FRIDAY, APRIL 14
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 15
As this chapter opens, we find where the Scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders of Judaism) made long journey from Jerusalem to area of Galilee to attack Jesus. That’s a pretty good hike or donkey ride. But it just goes to show you that religious folks will go out of their way to make it difficult on folks who do not adhere to their religious rules.
They mentioned “the tradition of the elders”. This was an attempt at an application of the Mosaic Law. Early on, it was a good thing. It helped people know how to apply God’s word to their lives. The problem is by the time Jesus came to the earth, this tradition of the elders had become more authoritative than the Mosaic Law. In other words, man’s opinion of God’s Word had become more important than God’s Word.
The tradition they came to accuse Jesus of breaking was washing hands before a meal. You might think if they came that far to attack Jesus, they would have had a signification accusation. But Nope! What they had was Jesus and His friends weren’t washing their hands before meals.
This wasn’t a washing the hands for cleanliness. This was a very ceremonial process of water being poured over someone’s hands and running off of his elbows. They did this to “wash off” any contact with anything or anyone they considered unclean they may have come in contact with.
Interestingly, Jesus never responded to their accusation. Sometimes the best thing we can do is ignore what someone has said about us. But Jesus did have something He wanted to ask those religious leaders. It had to do with some things they were doing and permitting others to do that simply violated the explicit command of God.
The command Jesus put on the table had to do with honoring parents which includes caring for them as they grow older. The religious leaders came up with a pretty ingenious way to skirt around this. They simply declared what they had to be a gift to God. That meant they didn’t have to give it to their parents because it “belonged to God”. But it did mean they could use it until they died. They had a pretty good racket going.
There is an obvious point that needs to be made here. That is we humans are very adept at justifying whatever it is that we want to do. In fact, we can justify what we want even while we are attacking what someone else wants. We can justify what we do even while attacking what someone else wants.
So, let me encourage you to make sure what you want and what you are doing line up with God’s Word. The only way we can avoid self-righteousness and live righteously is to live by God’s Word.