The in and out
He responded, â€œWell did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: â€˜This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.â€™ You disregard Godâ€™s commandment but cling to human tradition.â€
A few weeks ago, Jesus upset His listeners when He offered them His body and blood. To them, He was violating one of the most basic precepts of Kosher law.
Today, the Pharisees and some scribes confront Jesus. This was at a more basic level; Jesus disciples were violating traditional rules about hand washing. They confronted Jesus about this.
These Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem: They were an official delegation coming to evaluate the ministry of Jesus. A prior delegation had already condemned Jesus so this one already made up their minds. They just had to see it to confirm their opinion. Their minds and hearts were not open to God.
As to the washings we do not mean getting rid of the yuck factor. The Pharisees rather meant elaborate ceremonial washings. The Pharisees had raised a small â€˜tâ€™ tradition to the level of Godâ€™s direct commands. In fact, by the time of Jesus, this oral law was being honored as at least equal to, if not more important than, Godâ€™s Law. Jesus was trying to refocus Israel. Open your hearts and your whole selves to my Father. See in Me the goodness and generosity of your Heavenly Father.
It is easy for us to enter into the same kinds of error; to find salvation in outward practice, and in doing so to lose our way. We need refocusing too.
We can easily lose our focus and place trivial traditions in the way of our relationship with God. These can even become roadblocks that discourage others from coming to God. We can think that we are close to the Lord by what we say and practice â€“ having the image of being religious or spiritual, but actually be far from God. We should regularly ask ourselves some serious questions: I attend church, read the Bible, pray, pitch in, minister, sing, even talk to others about Jesus but is my heart close to God? Is my entire being about being in Jesus?
If our entire being is one in God then all we do is about being part of His life. We worship in church, not to be exceptional or even to follow Godâ€™s law, but because we need to be with Him and offer Him the worship He deserves. We read the Bible, pray, pitch in, minister, sing, and talk to others about Jesus because our hearts are His. We are truly and fully in love with God. Lord, refocus us so that all coming from us is Yours!