Matthew 14:34-15:20 Its what’s on the inside that counts

They arrived in a town after the storm but it was not the town the originally set out for. The storm had blown them off course on their way to Capernaum. Storms in life sometimes take you to God Planned places you would have never been on your own. So if you think you are not where God wants you just remember He is still in control.

Storms take you to God planned places you would have never gone on your own.

Jesus popularity had grown so much that this farm town started to recognize Him right away and sent word out to everyone so they could come and see Jesus.  Because it grew to be so many people they begged to just even touch His garment or tassel on His robe. Jesus  disregarded all the ceremonial rules for being clean that any other Rabbi would have had because He allows Himself to be touched by those who are diseased. This as much as anything sets up the debate that the religious leaders would have with Him.

1)   Follow God’s Word Not Human Teaching

15:1-6

This was more than likely a planned delegation with a plan of what they were going to ask and what they were going to say. This town was a place that was out in the country and would not have been a place that this group would have just been passing through but they had to of planned to find Jesus. The popularity of Jesus along with His confrontation of how they had become obstacles to others was growing and they needed to discredit Him before the people turned all their loyalty to Jesus.

People who despise you will always try and catch you doing something wrong.

Although their goal was to really trip up Jesus they pointed at His disciples and what they thought they were doing wrong. As Christians we are to hold each other accountable to the word of God but not to twist scripture and make everyone follow what we believe.

The tradition of the Elders

To try and keep people from sinning the religious leaders made extra man made rules that were not God made rules. The extra rules were not bad in and of themselves but what they did was that they made their man made rules just as valid as Gods rules.

For example a person that struggles with getting drunk might set the rule to never go into a place that has a bar. That is a good extra rule for someone who does not want to sin by getting drunk but if they made their rule everyone else’s rule then that would be wrong.

Gods rules are always to protect us and now more rules were added making it a burden. If you have your own man made rule to help protect yourself make sure you do not place those on someone else.

Romans 14:4-6 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

We are not talking about sin areas that are clear in the Bible but areas that people want to make sin areas that are not. If someone chooses to worship on Saturday Night and never on Sunday that is alright because the Bible says to meet together for encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25) not which day or night it should be on.

There are many rules that we all establish for ourselves to help us in our walk with Christ and they are good but we cannot force them on others. The one thing I do want to reemphasize is that the Bible is clear on sins that our society and even Christians are twisting to say they are not sins. Those issues will be handled another time but I do not want someone justifying a lifestyle or sin habit because they believe man has set extra rules them that are not from God. Each one of us will give an account before God but we need to pay extra attention if we are causing someone to stumble in sin areas because of our carelessness in interpreting scripture.

For they do not wash their hands

This was not a requirement for people other than the priest of the time (Exodus 30:17-21)Some of the Jewish Leaders believed that a demon would attach himself to your hands while you slept and if you did not clean them you could put him in your body when you ate. They would have this ritual where a small amount of water was poured while their fingers were straight up and do the same thing with their fingers down.

Jesus Answered

Jesus does not explain His side He goes and asks them a question. People that like to point out problems do not always look at their own problems so Jesus was having them evaluate their own lives by asking them a question.

What the Religious leaders were teaching is that if you wanted to get out of helping your mom and dad when they got older you only had to say that this extra money  you have is dedicated to the Lord. So instead of helping your parents financially you could keep all your money by dedicating it to the Lord. That did not mean you were giving it to the Lord because you could reverse the dedication of the money anytime you felt you needed it for something. This was a very selfish act that people were committing against their parents especially in a time where there was no other help for them except family members.

Jesus was reminding them of the scriptures they should have already known.

Exodus 21:15-17 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.16 “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.17 “Whoever curses[a] his father or his mother shall be put to death.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Nullify the Word of God

This was no small accusation because they should have been the ones who thought they were upholding Gods laws studying and knowing them better than any other person.

Jesus was accusing them of invalidating the Word of God by hiding the word of God by all the traditions. The Scribes would copy the word of God and then they would also have other books (commentaries) that they wrote to help explain the difficult passages. These commentaries grew until the extra books became more abundant and more of the focus than what God actually said.

New Jewish believers were so into these traditions that even after they converted to Christianity they had a hard time leaving these traditions even though they accepted Jesus as their Saviour. Denominations can do this when they make their man made traditions take precedence over the word of God.

15:7-9

Hypocrites

Jesus was showing them that they were doing the same thing the people were doing in Isaiah’s day. Hypocrites are always offended by truth. They said the right things but did not think the right thoughts and Jesus is reminding them that their man made rules have no value before God.

Jesus always rebuked the self righteous and had mercy for those who were lost in their sin.

Jesus heals those who come for healing and He rejects those who reject Him. 

15:10-11 Addressing the Crowd

I love how Jesus turns His attention away from the critics and towards the people. The people are the ones who usually get lost in all the religious rhetoric and the ones who are usually hurt by it. By Jesus calling them forward He took them from being spectators to part of what was going on. This was unusual because the crowd was always left on the outside and almost ignored while the religious teachers discussed matters.

Listen and Understand

Two things that a true disciple of Christ must do. To many Christian either do not listen or they do not try and understand what God is saying. Jesus is calling all of those who would follow Him to listen and understand. Jesus wants to reprogram all the things they have been taught wrong from religious leaders and traditions. For many today it is they are not willing to change their thinking about certain subjects and especially what the Bible calls sin. A stumbling block to accepting Jesus is that people will just not listen.

Proceeds from your mouth

What comes out of your mouth shows whether you are clean or unclean.

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Your mouth is the check engine light of your life indicating that there is an internal problem.

If your mouth has stuff coming out that it shouldn’t then you know you have problems on the inside. Your mouth is not the problem it is the indicator of the problem. Blaming your mouth for what is said is like blaming your check engine light in your car. Listen to what is coming out of your mouth and then you will know if there are some spiritual problems you need to work on.

15:12-13

Every plant my heavenly father has planted

Jesus is making it clear that they were not from God.(Psalm 44:2, 80:8-11; Isaiah 60:21)

Matthew 13:40-42 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Leave them

Some people no matter what you say to them are going to be stuck in their ways and you might as well not waste your time. No matter what you say they are not interested in the truth only proving their point. This is difficult for many people because they think that by one more conversation or if they make a good enough point they will change but that is just not reality.

1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

2 John 1:10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

In our society  many people are coming together under the banner of unity and we have to make sure that we are not surrendering the true message of the gospel for the sake of another cause.

They are Blind Guides

The Jewish people were to be guides for those trapped in darkness and open their eyes to God.

Isaiah 42:6-7 I am the Lord; I have called you[a] in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

What the religious leaders did not understand is that they were more blind and doing more damage to the Kingdom of God because they were leading people to destruction. A blind person cannot lead a blind person because they will both fall into the same pit. Pits were dug out in fields to hold water for animals and so a person walking could fall into them if not watching where they were going.  They thought they were leaders of the blind, just like many religious leaders today, but they are just as blind as those they are leading.

Just because someone is leading does not mean they know where they are going.

2)   True worship is about the Heart not our actions

Out of the Heart

Jesus is showing the real problem with people was on the inside but the religious leaders were all about looking good on the outside. They should have known what was taught about King Davids brothers.

1 Samuel 16:7 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

The religious leaders just like many church people today feel as though if they look good enough then they are good enough. We know how to hide our true feelings on the outside but inside we are full of murderous rage or lust and God sees it. We cannot clean ourselves up with all of our external practices it takes a transformation from the inside out.

The problem with everyone is a heart problem.

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

People can do the right things for the wrong reasons. Hypocrites hate when they hear this because they are all about the appearance and what they have done.

Christianity is not behavior modification it is life transformation.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

The problem of the Pharisees was the false order of their priorities, and that is our difficulty as well. Until the heart is changed, actions will never suffice.” (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

May we not fall into the trap of worshiping God in vain like the people of Isaiah’s day.

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