In reply he said to them: ¨Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition?¨ Matthew 15:3 (Reference Bible)
Our Savior was approached by the religious leaders of His time. They demanded an explanation as to why His followers were overstepping the obvious acceptable traditions. Instead of entering a complex discussion on who was right, He exercised His deeper understanding of God´s will. Quite directly He pointed out to them that they were standing on Human ways and had wandered from what God intends and desires.
There may be some even today who would seek the Lord´s appraisal of our current situation. These precious few will want to bring their own case before God whether it incriminates them or not. There are many ¨accepted¨ ways of worship, but to who are they acceptable.
The Pharisees thought that their ways of living and worshiping were what pleased their God. But Jesus showed them their deception. In Matthew 15 verses 1 to 20 we find this account and with a careful eye for instruction, we may benefit ourselves greatly from this story.
God has not hidden from us His intentions for the human race. Rather, He has worked hard like a loving father throughout history to draw all men back unto Him. But let us make no mistake, the Bible texts and testimonies are too many for us to get the idea that we can do this by method, actions or being part of a special group of people. He goes so far past all those externals and asks for the very heart and soul of each would-be worshipper.
Therefore, as the created beings, we should learn to look up and to listen. When God asks for the complete person or our all, He goes past all the external things and to the center core of our existence. The words Jesus used when He referred to this center, was our hearts or our souls. This center is what controls the external thoughts and actions but should not be confused with the outward expression.
In verses 7 to 9 Jesus states directly;
¨You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you when he said: ´This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.´¨ (New World Translation)
Then later in verses 15 to 20, Jesus draws His followers closer and encourages them to understand by showing them that food or drink that enters only passes through the body. Actions and words that come out of us stem from something deep within our nature. The heart Jesus refers to is what may be contaminated and therefore whatever thought or actions may follow are sure to be unpleasing to our God.
By our merit or effort we do not make anything holy. This work must be done by the Lord. He has to be able to work inside the heart of the individual to remove the fallen nature that lives in that center core and replace it with His own nature and His own righteousness.
Therefore we should make every effort to bow humbly before God each day. We should never rest while we are in the flesh or pride ourselves in any way.
Dear God, please show us our need for Your Son. Give us an acute awareness of the nature of our hearts. Empty and scour the very center of our beings so as to make a place fit for Your nature to enter in. Then we would be free to truly worship You and come to know what Your will for us is.
In humble honesty we would turn from our ways and look away to You. We pray this in the name of Your Son who has paid the price for the surgery of removal and replacement of hearts.
And may Your name be glorified in all the earth!