William Howell

Transparent | Innovative | Relational

Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.
Mark 7:7

Could you imagine a time when the religious hierarchy had more power than most governors or kings? It certainly appeared to be that way when the Pharisees walked into a room. But Jesus, in His typical fashion, did not shy away from the elephant in the room. During this time, the Pharisees had written rules and regulations that the common townspeople had to follow if they wanted to be a part of the religious community.  When Jesus began to question their practices and religious regulations, the Pharisees began to push back.

“Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him,  “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”
Matthew 15:1-2


Regardless, Jesus never backed down from a righteous fight. He pointed out the elephant in the room and then went further;

 

“Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.”
Matthew 15:3-6

 

Like salt in the wound, Jesus made it clear that you cannot have spiritual hypocrisy. There were things going on with the Pharisees that ought not to have been happening. And with that, Jesus reminded them of the prophecy in Isaiah;

 

“You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
 ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
 for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
Matthew 15:7-11

Ouch! He didn’t mince words, that is for sure.  A few feathers were ruffled during this confrontation. Jesus did not care about being politically correct in this situation. He only wanted to say what was true and right. He wasn’t impressed by their clout and He wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is. However, His disciples were concerned.

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
Matthew 15:12

In His typical fashion, Jesus made sure that His disciples would not be as alarmed. Again, He wasn’t impressed by the clout that the Pharisees carried over the townspeople.

 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,  so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
Matthew 15:13

Just another jab at the religious elite.  Jesus’ words pierced through the scriptures to us today as we are each called to be light in a dark place. Here’s the problem though. The religious elite is not our pastors or teachers. They are you and me. I easily get caught in the trap of pointing my finger at someone else’s sin when my own is still glaring at me in my face.  Jesus even spoke on this;

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
Matthew 7:3

Jesus wants us to take out our own business before we try to take out someone else’s business. Let us be careful to not become part of the religious elite and believe that we are better than any other person. Let our hearts be open to better ourselves without judging another.

 

 

 

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