Offending the Religious Elite: Sacrificing the Commandment of God for the Traditions of Men

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-eight verses of the fifteenth chapter. When you come to this particular point in Scripture you will find Jesus once more finding Himself encountering the scribes and the Pharisees. It would be in the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel when you encounter and come face to face with the beginning of the offense of Jesus. As you come to the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will encounter and will find Jesus beginning to offend the scribes and the Pharisees—a theme which is found within and throughout the four gospel narratives. In fact, I would dare say that you cannot read and cannot have the four gospel narratives without and apart from the opposition Jesus faced and experienced from the scribes and the Pharisees—and not only from the scribes and Pharisees, but also from the chief priests, the elders of Israel, the Sadducees, as well as the Jews. It is when you come to the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John you will begin to encounter this opposition extending beyond simply the religious system and leaders of His day, but also offending and upsetting the Jews as well. What’s more, is that when you read the gospel narratives you will find that there were even times within the ministry of Jesus the Christ when He angered and upset those within His own hometown because of the words which He spoke. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding truths surrounding the gospel narratives is when you read and consider the fact that Jesus did indeed fulfill the will of the Father in heaven, but with that pleasing the Father would come the tremendous truth that pleasing the Father would at times placed Him at odds with certain of those individuals who were before and all around Him—mainly, the religious leaders of that day, but also the Jews themselves, as well as those who were present within His own hometown.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the four gospel narratives and I can’t help but encounter the tremendous truth that we must beware and be leery of that individual who pleases everyone while at the same time angering and offending no one. If you study the four gospel narratives which were written by the gospel authors you will find the powerful picture that Jesus was indeed the Son of God who was the only begotten and beloved Son of the Father, and that One who brought great pleasure, joy and delight to the Father, and yet with that being said we must understand that not even Jesus could please everyone whom He encountered. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that as you read and study the New Testament gospel narratives you will find that more often than not Jesus angered, offended and upset the religious system of His day—and not only this, but Jesus also angered and offended the Jews which were present during those days. Not only this, but you will find that eventually there would come a point when Jesus would offend Judas Iscariot—one of the twelve disciples whom He had called and chosen. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without and apart from recognizing and understanding the awesome and tremendous truth that within and throughout the public life and ministry of Jesus He would anger and offend many of those during those days. He would offend the religious system based on their traditions, their rules, their regulations and their interpretation of the Law, and Jesus would anger and offend those within His own hometown of Nazareth because of the words which He spoke while teaching in their synagogue. What’s more, is that we will find Jesus angering and offended the Jews when He not only healed on the sabbath day, but also spoke in terms that suggests He was the Son of the living God. Not only this, but we also find Jesus offending many of those who walked with Him when He spoke concerning the bread which came down from heaven—and not only this, but also eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

            The more I read and the more I consider the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that one of the greatest truths surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ is that by walking in and following the will of the Father, He would ultimately anger and offend those who were present during those days. What’s more, is that I can’t help but think about the fact that for the first thirty years of His life within and upon the earth—those years when Jesus was the Word made flesh which dwelt among us in obscurity—He angered and offended no one. If you think about and consider the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ you will undoubtedly encounter and come face to face with the fact that the offenses didn’t truly begin until around the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Scripture offers and provided very little language and text concerning the early years of Jesus the Christ other than when He was twelve years old and His parents had to return to Jerusalem to locate Him. It would be upon their returning Jerusalem they found Him in the Temple of the Lord reasoning and speaking with the scribes, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Israel. Outside of and aside from this there is very little language that is found within the New Testament gospels that provides any type of context surrounding Jesus the Christ. I would dare say that during and for those first thirty years of His life within and upon the earth Jesus would indeed anger and upset no one who was present during those days. It’s interesting to read and consider the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke, for I would dare say that prior to Jesus public revealing and manifestation at the Jordan River, and before Jesus would be driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, He angered, upset and offended none within His hometown. In fact, I would dare say that those who were present within His hometown had indeed become familiar and acquainted with Him, for even later on in the gospels you will find them speaking of Jesus as being the son of Joseph, and how His mother and brethren were present there with Him.

            It is truly interesting and intriguing to think about and consider this particular truth and reality, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely tremendous truth that for the first thirty years of His private life Jesus undoubtedly angered and offended no one. After Jesus would return from the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit where He was tempted of the devil He would teach and speak in the synagogue which was present in Nazareth. It would be there in the synagogue Jesus would read from the words which we know to be found in the sixty-first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book. Jesus would read the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet prophesied concerning “the Spirit of the LORD is upon me,” and how the Spirit of the Lord had anointed Him to fulfill and carry out a very specific assignment, task and mission within and upon the earth. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to speak unto them concerning the unbelievable truth that on that particular day the words of the prophet Isaiah were fulfilled within their hearing. What makes this encounter all the more interesting and unique is when you stop and consider the fact that Jesus would also go on to declare unto them how they would make the statement, “Physician, work among us the same miracles and works you worked in other areas and regions.” Jesus would take this a step further when He would speak of how there were many widows which were present in Israel during the days of Elijah the prophet, and how the Lord sent Elijah unto a widow in Zarephath as opposed to any of the widows which were present within the land of Israel. What’s more is that you will also find Jesus speaking and declaring how there were many lepers in the land during the days of Elisha the prophet, and how the Lord would heal Naaman who was a Syrian general  in their army.

            We dare not miss and lose sight of just how truly remarkable this reality is, for it is when we think about and consider this we are brought face to face with the incredible and astonishing truth that after Jesus was publicly revealed and manifested in the midst of the earth, His ministry—that which was ordained and appointed unto Him by the Father—would ultimately begin angering, upsetting and offending those who were present during those days. You cannot read the four gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there were countless times—perhaps even more than what we find written and revealed within the four gospels—when Jesus angered, upset, and offended those which were present during those days and times. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found within this particular gospel written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter the tremendous truth that the beginning with the ninth chapter we find Jesus starting to anger, upset and offend the scribes and the Pharisees which were present during those days. Oh I continue to find it absolutely astounding to think about and consider the fact that the more you read and the more you consider the four gospel narratives the more you will find that while there were many who would indeed enter into the kingdom of heaven, and while there were many who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—there were a number of men and women at that time who would grow angry, upset and offended with the Lord Jesus Christ. From the Jews to many of those who walked with and followed Jesus, to the scribes and the Pharisees, to the chief priests and elders of Israel, to those within His own hometown, and even to one of His own disciples, Jesus would anger and offend a great number of people which were present during those days. You cannot have the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ without and apart from His angering and offending those around Him—and not only angering and offending those around Him, but also angering and offending them with the words which He spoke and the actions He carried out among them in their midst.

            I have previously made the statement that we must beware of those who can anger and offend no one and who please everyone they encounter during the course of their lives. In fact, I would dare say that if you anger and offend no one—particularly and especially if you are a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ—you might need to reevaluate and examine whether or not you are actually walking with and walking in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus made it very clear that if they called the Master Beelzebub who was the prince of devils, so also would they rise up and speak against them. Moreover, Jesus would also declare unto His disciples that if they hated Him they would hate His disciples, and they would be hated of all nations and all peoples for His name’s sake. Jesus prepared His disciples and His followers to be brought before kings and rulers, and to be scourged in and cast out of the synagogues within the land. We must needs realize and understand this, for when you read and consider the four gospels you will encounter and come face to face with the absolutely tremendous truth that not only did Jesus prepare His disciples to be hated by men for His name’s sake, but Jesus also prepared His disciples to indeed anger, upset and offend those whom they would encounter and come in contact with. The more I read the words which are found within the four gospels the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth that you cannot read the narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that more often than not we find Him angering and offending the scribes, the Pharisees, and those who were among the religious elite and leaders during those days. It is impossible to read the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter and come face to face with this truly awesome and astonishing truth, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and tremendous truth that Jesus was one whose words and whose actions angered and offended many who were present during those days.

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that we once more find Jesus and His disciples angering and offending the scribes and the Pharisees. In fact, when you begin reading the words found in the beginning of this chapter you will find the scribes and the Pharisees which were of Jerusalem coming unto Jesus and asking Him why His disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders. Moreover, the scribes and the Pharisees would go on to describe this transgression, for they would speak of them as not washing their hands when they eat bread. What we must needs realize and recognize when reading the words which are found within this passage is what is found in the second section of this chapter, for what we find within the second section of this chapter is the disciples coming unto Jesus privately declaring unto Him that the Pharisees were offended after they heard the words which Jesus Himself had spoken unto them. Pause for a moment and consider just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this is when you think about it, for what would begin with the scribes and the Pharisees coming unto Jesus concerning His disciples—presumably because they viewed His disciples as violating and transgressing the traditions of the elders of Israel—would transition to the scribes and Pharisees being offended with Jesus because of the words which He would speak unto them. What we must needs realize and recognize is that this wouldn’t be the first time the scribes or the Pharisees came unto Jesus concerning His disciples, for if you transition back to the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative you will find the account of the scribes and Pharisees approaching Jesus concerning that which His disciples did which was not lawful to do on the Sabbath day. It is when you come to the words which are found in the ninth chapter that you find those within the religious community initially being offended with the disciples because of their actions on the sabbath, and transitioning to their offense with the Lord Jesus Christ because of His own actions—namely, eating, drinking and fellowshipping with publicans and sinners.

            It is quite remarkable and astonishing to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which are found within this passage bring us face to face with the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ—not even Jesus Himself—angering, upsetting and offending the scribes and the Pharisees. We must needs realize, recognize and understand this, for it is actually quite unique to think about and consider the fact that her—once more—we find the disciples of Jesus angering and offending the scribes and the Pharisees. Initially we find the disciples of Jesus angering and offending the scribes and Pharisees because they did that which was unlawful according to their traditions to do on the sabbath. As you come to the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find that Jesus and His disciples would walk through the fields on the sabbath day and how the disciples were hungry. As a direct result of the disciples being hungry and walking through the fields on the sabbath day they would pick the ears of corn and eat. The scribes and the Pharisees would behold the disciples doing this and they would immediately speak unto Jesus asking Him why His disciples did that which was unlawful to do on the sabbath. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth, for when the scribes and Pharisees spoke unto Jesus they would speak unto Him concerning the disciples engaging in actions and behavior which was not lawful to do on the sabbath. Here were the disciples of Jesus picking ears of corn from the stalks and eating them, and the scribes and Pharisees could not handle their actions, for they viewed them as an affront and violation of that which they deemed as being lawful. What’s more, is that we must needs realize and understand that their words to Jesus wasn’t necessarily even spoken concerning that which was commanded in the Law of Moses, but rather their own interpretation of the Law which was given by Moses.

            The more I think about and consider this the more I am brought face to face with the fact that what the scribes and Pharisees viewed as a violation of the law was not necessarily an actual violation of the Law, but rather a violation of their interpretation of the Law, and that which had been passed down through the ages. What we must needs realize and understand concerning the scribes and the Pharisees is that their sects within the land of Judaea were founded and established during the four hundred silent years which occurred between the ending of the prophetic word which Malachi spoke and the beginning of the prophetic words which John the Baptist spoke. What we must needs realize and understand concerning the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, the Sadducees and the teachers of the Law was that not only were they formed during the four-hundred years of silence which would be present within and in the midst of the earth, but so also would many of their traditions be formulated and established during those times. This is actually something which we must needs realize and understand, for these words powerfully and wonderfully point to the fact that more often than not—when God is silent, and when God appears to be absent, we tend to allow our imagination and our interpretation rise up within us. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which are found within the ninth and fifteenth chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that what angered and offended the scribes and the Pharisees was not necessarily that which the disciples did in violation of the Law of Moses, but rather that which they did which was in violation of their own traditions. It is in the fifteenth chapter where we find and read the scribes and Pharisees not speaking of the Law, nor even that which was commanded and instructed in the Law, but rather than which was found within their own traditions. Moreover, the scribes and the Pharisees would speak unto and concerning Jesus concerning that which the disciples did which they viewed as being a direct violation of the traditions of the elders—traditions which were largely and widely based on the interpretation and understanding of the Law which was commanded according to Moses.

            While I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs beware of that leader or that individual who can anger and offend no one and who pleases everyone, I am also convinced that we must beware of those times when the voice of God seems to be silent and the presence of God seems to be absent. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that we have a great need to beware within our hearts and our minds when the voice of God is silent that we do not attempt to engage in our own understanding and our own interpretation of that which is found within the Law of Moses, and that which is found within the word of God. Oh there is a tremendous and incredible danger when God is silent and when we feel as though God is not speaking to engage ourselves in an understanding and interpretation of that which we think and that which we feel the living God has spoken and that which God has said. I am sitting here today thinking and considering just how absolutely incredible this truly is, for there is an inherent danger when God is silent and when He is not speaking within our hearts and our lives to provide our own interpretation concerning what was written within the Scriptures. There is a tremendous danger and temptation when God is silent to seek to provide our own interpretation and understanding of what was written in the Word of God—and not only this, but to make it say something which it was never intended on saying. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are brought face to face with the truth that what the scribes and Pharisees spoke of and referred to as “the traditions of the elders” was that which was brought into existence during those four-hundred silent years.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, and I am brought face to face with just how dangerous it is when God is silent to make Him say something which He didn’t—and not only making Him say something He never said, but also in providing our own interpretation on that which was spoken in the Word of God. There is not a doubt in my mind that during those four hundred years of silence man was not only given the ability to rule and reign within and upon the earth as the Grecian and Roman Empires would emerge in the midst of the earth, but so also would man seek to provide their own understanding and their own interpretation concerning that which was written in the Law of Moses. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and just how incredible powerful it truly is, for there is a great danger when God is silent to make Him say and speak something He never spoke. There is a great danger when God is silent to declare that He has spoken something He never said, and to lead others in believing that particular truth we are spinning. If I am being honest with you who are reading these words I would dare say that two of the greatest challenges we face when God is silent—or at lease when God appears to be silent—is not only making God say something He never said, but also seeking to put our own interpretation and understanding on that which is found within the Word of God. Throughout history man has gotten himself in a tremendous amount of trouble when they have passed off their own understanding and interpretation of what is found in Scripture as being revelation and have taught men and women to do so. It’s interesting and worth noting that when Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount He emphatically declared that unless our righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees we would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. We must pay close attention to this, for there is something unique about the “righteousness” which the scribes and Pharisees thought and believed themselves to have possessed that Jesus sought to indict, rebuke and correct.

            When we speak of this “righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” we must needs think about and consider the fact that it is entirely and altogether centered upon their own traditions and their own rules and regulations rather than on the Law which was spoken by Moses. “The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” was largely based on their own interpretation and understanding of that which was commanded in the Law of Moses, and very rarely was what they viewed as being offensive actually in direct connection to the Law of Moses. In fact, later on within this gospel we find Jesus speaking of the scribes and Pharisees and how they say in Moses’ seat—that place were they would not only teach, but also that place where they would attempt to uphold the Law which was spoken by Moses. What we must needs realize and understand, however, is that more often than not that which the scribes and the Pharisees believed to be their understanding and their interpretation of the Scriptures and of that which was written in the Law and the prophets that caused them to be so angered and offended by Jesus and His disciples. Perhaps one of the most striking realities I can’t help but think about and consider when reading these words is when I think about the fact that when you read the gospel narratives you seem to find Jesus and His disciples at the very heart and center of the anger and offense of the scribes and Pharisees. I can’t help but think about the fact that there were countless others which were present in the midst of the land during those days who didn’t anger and offend the scribes and the Pharisees, however, when Jesus stepped on to the scene—both He and His disciples would anger, upset and offend the religious elite and the religious leaders of that day.

            Pause for a moment and think about this particular truth, for the more you think about and consider it the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that during those days—not only did Jesus seem to anger and upset the religious elite, but so also did His disciples anger and offend the same religious elite. OFFENDING THE RELIGIOUS ELITE! OFFENDING THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW! OFFENDING RELIGION AND THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM! It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for the words which we find in this chapter are in direct alignment and relationship to the words which are found in the ninth chapter. It is in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are first introduced to this offense of the scribes and Pharisees, for it is on this particular occasion where we find the disciples of Jesus upsetting the scribes and the Pharisees—and not only angering and offending them, but doing so according to that which they thought and believed was lawful and unlawful. It’s something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for essentially what you find are the religious elite during those days apparently having a monopoly on that which was lawful and that which was unlawful. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for when you read the ninth and fifteenth chapters of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find the scribes and the Pharisees being those who allegedly and apparently had a monopoly on truth—and not only a monopoly on truth, but also a monopoly on that which was lawful and that which was permissible. Pause for a moment and think about this, for the scribes and the Pharisees were in a position and place sitting in the seat of Moses, and it was there in the seat of Moses they were in a place and position to lead men and women into thinking and believing that they were the guardians of the truth, and that they were guardians of that which was lawful and that which was permissible during those days.

            I cannot help but be absolutely captivated and gripped when thinking about and considering this absolutely tremendous and powerful truth, for the scribes and Pharisees were in an incredibly dangerous place during the days of Jesus, for with their sitting in the seat of Moses they not only viewed themselves as the authority on all matters pertaining to the Law and the prophets, but they also viewed themselves as having a monopoly on truth. What’s more, is that the scribes and the Pharisees viewed themselves as having a monopoly on the law and that which was permissible according to what was written in the law and the prophets. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for those who believed themselves to be the guardians of truth, and those who viewed themselves as being guardians of the Law and of the prophets were those who sought to condemn, judge and criticize those who they perceived violated that which was written and contained within the Law and the prophets. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that those who thought and those who believed themselves to have a monopoly on the truth were those who were quick and easy to judge, condemn and criticize those who they viewed as violating their traditions, their laws, their commands, their rules, and that which they thought and believed ought to be observed. It’s even more interesting to think and consider how Jesus the Christ emphatically declared unto and instructed His disciples and followers to not do that which the scribes and Pharisees did, but to do what they said and what they commanded. It’s something worth thinking about and something worth considering when you consider the fact that these guardians of the truth and these guardians of that which was found and contained within the Law and the prophets were those who were always so quick to judge and so quick to point the finger. What’s more, is that more often than not they pointed their finger(s) of judgment and criticism at Jesus and at His disciples.

            The words which we find within these chapters is something that is absolutely astonishing when you think about it, for the scribes and the Pharisees—and not only the scribes and the Pharisees, but also the chief priests, the elders of Israel, the Sadducees, and the like—were those who thought and perceived themselves having a monopoly on the truth. The religious elite which were present during those days were those who believed they had a monopoly on what was lawful and what was actually commanded in the Law of Moses. What makes this truly unique is when you think about and consider the narratives which were found in the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find that more often than not the anger, the offense, the resentment and the animosity of the scribes and the Pharisees was not necessarily in direct connection to and direct connection with that which was written in the Law and the prophets, but rather that which was written in their traditions, and that which they themselves had provided as understanding and interpretation of the Law and the prophets. The scribes, the Pharisees and the religious elite during those days believed they were the ultimate authority on what was written in the Law and the prophets, and here comes Jesus on to the scene demonstrating that they themselves were not the ultimate authority on what was written in the Law and the prophets. It is intriguing to think about and consider the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for the words we find written within these passages of Scripture demonstrate and reveal that despite what they believed concerning their being the ultimate and final authority on what was written in the Law and the prophets, Jesus the Christ came—not only challenging their understanding of what was found within the Law and the prophets, but also challenging their traditions, their rules and their regulations. Perhaps one of the most remarkable truths surrounding the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that more often than not His words and His actions would fly directly in the face of, and directly against that which was found within their traditions, their rules and their regulations. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely true and powerful this is, for it must needs be understood when seeking to read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse of the fifteenth chapter:

            “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:1-9).

            WHY DO THY DISCIPLES TRANSGRESS THE TRADITION OF THE ELDERS? WHY DO YE ALSO TRANSGRESS THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD BY YOUR TRADITION? Stop and consider just how incredible this exchange would have been between Jesus and the scribes and the Pharisees. Here we have the scribes and the Pharisees coming unto Jesus concerning His disciples and why they transgressed the tradition of the elders, and yet in response to their coming unto Him Jesus would speak unto them and ask them why they transgressed the commandment of God. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus ask them why they transgressed the commandment of God, but also seemed to indicate and suggest that their tradition(s) violated the commandment of God. Here we have the scribes and the Pharisees who were worried about and concerned with the disciples violating and transgressing the tradition of the elders, and yet Jesus would flip the script and declare unto them that they would indeed violate the commandment of God. Not only this, but Jesus would declare that they violated the commandment of God by, with and through their tradition. Oh we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, and the religious elite which were present during those days believed themselves to be the guardians of the truth, and guardians of the Law and that which was right  in the sight of both God and man, and yet what Jesus would indict them on was how they themselves violated the living God and His commandments through their traditions. That which the scribes and that which the Pharisees held to concerning their traditions would actually fly against the commandment of the living God. Their belief and their understanding of their own righteousness—a righteousness which was based largely on traditions—would actually be a direct affront to the righteousness which was found in the kingdom of heaven, and a righteousness which Jesus came to preach and present unto those which were present during those days.

            THE DISPARITY BETWEEN THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD AND THE TRADITIONS OF MAN! I sit here thinking about and considering just how truly challenging and captivating these words are, and I can’t help but see a tremendous and powerful picture of what is present within our culture and society today. Those who think and those who believe that they somehow have a monopoly on the truth, and those who somehow think they are the guardians of what is right and wrong are actually those who are the biggest perpetrators of transgression and iniquity against the commandment of the living God. In their pursuit of knowledge, and in their pursuit of what they believe to be right and wrong they are actually in direct violation to the commands and statutes which are found in the Law of Moses and in the prophets. I can’t help but be directly confronted with the strong and powerful truth that within our culture and society there are those who have been entrusted to uphold the law and those who have been entrusted to uphold that which is good and right, and yet what we have found—particularly and especially in recent years—is anything but this. Oh we have indeed found those who are in charge of upholding the law getting it right on certain issues and in certain regards, however, those who are and those who have been entrusted with being the guardians and keepers of the Law have actually changed the laws, and those who have actually redefined what is actually good and what is actually right. Ever since the middle of last century we have found that which is right in the sight of God being dramatically redefined and being dramatically shaped into something that is entirely and altogether contrary to what is actually written in the Law of Moses and that which is written in the word of God. What’s more, is that during the days in which we are living right now we are finding ourselves encountering and coming face to face with the fact that those who have been appointed, elected and entrusted to guard and protect the laws upon which this nation have been founded have actually worked to violate and transgress that which they have been called to uphold.

            I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for within this chapter we find the scribes and Pharisees speaking unto Jesus concerning His disciples violating the tradition of the elders. The scribes and the Pharisees believed that the disciples of Jesus were in direct violation of the tradition of the elders because they didn’t wash their hands, and it was this belief that caused them to speak directly to Jesus concerning this matter. The question I can’t help but wonder and ask myself when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is what the scribes and Pharisees hoped to accomplish when speaking unto Jesus concerning His disciples. Did the scribes and Pharisees actually think and believe that Jesus would somehow correct and rebuke His disciples? Did the scribes and Pharisees actually believe that Jesus would speak to His disciples concerning their behavior and their violation of the traditions of the elders? There is not a doubt in my mind that within their question spoke unto Jesus the scribes and the Pharisees sought to accuse, indict and condemn the disciples of Jesus. I find it truly unique to think about and consider the fact that the scribes and the Pharisees thought they could come unto Jesus and indict, condemn, judge and accuse His disciples of violating the traditions of the elders, and yet what they would find is something they undoubtedly didn’t expect. The scribes and the Pharisees came unto Jesus speaking to Him concerning His disciples and their alleged violation of the tradition of the elders—that which they believed they were qualified to make as not only being guardians of the Law, but also having a monopoly on truth and righteousness. Oh how truly intriguing it is to think about the fact that the scribes and Pharisees believed themselves to have a monopoly on truth and on righteousness, and they believed themselves to be the ultimate and final authority on what was good and pleasing in the sight of God. The truth of the matter, however, is that when we read the narrative which the apostle Matthew wrote we find Jesus correcting their thinking—and not only correcting their thinking, but also indicting them for their violation of the commandment of God by their tradition.

            WHEN JESUS FLIPS THE SCRIPT! I find it truly and absolutely awesome and powerful to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for within it we find the scribes and Pharisees attempting to indict, judge, condemn and accuse the disciples for what they believed to be a direct violation of the tradition of the elders of Israel. What Jesus did, however, was turn their accusation upside and on its head, for Jesus would speak unto them concerning their violating the commandment of God by their tradition. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely incredible this truly is, for although the scribes and the Pharisees thought and believed that the disciples were guilty according to their tradition—Jesus would declare unto them that they themselves were in fact the guilty ones. Jesus would declare unto the scribes and Pharisees that they themselves were the guilty ones, for they were those who would violate the commandment of God by and through their tradition. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of particular truth and reality, for it calls and draws our attention to something truly remarkable and powerful when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture. It is within this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the attempt of the scribes and Pharisees to indict and charge the disciples with violating the tradition of the elders as though they thought and believed that Jesus adhered to their traditions. JESUS DOESN’T OPERATE WITHIN YOUR TRADITIONS! WHEN YOUR TRADITIONS VIOLATE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD THEY WARRANT THE INDICTMENT AND REBUKE OF JESUS! That which Jesus spoke unto the scribes and Pharisees was a powerful statement concerning their traditions violating the commandment of God, thus demonstrating the awesome and powerful truth that they were more concerned with their own traditions and their own understanding of what was written in the Law of Moses than they were actually obeying that which the Lord had commanded. Not only this, but Jesus would speak and declare unto them that in their pursuit of what they believed to be good and right they were actually violating the commandment of God.

            I find the words which are found in this passage of Scripture so incredibly astonishing and captivating when you take the time to think about it, for the words which we find in this passage of Scripture not only reveal how through their tradition they violated the commandment of God, but Jesus would also go on to expose their hypocrisy. As you continue reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will be brought face to face with the fact that Jesus spoke and declared unto the scribes and the Pharisees that Isaiah did well speak of them when he spoke of those who drew nigh unto the Lord with their mouth, and those who honored the Lord with their lips, and yet their heart was far from Him. What’s more, is that Jesus would also go on to declare unto them that they in vain did worship the Lord as they taught for doctrines the commandments of men. Oh stop and think about that last part, for it is within that last part we are truly brought face to face with the very heart of that which the scribes and Pharisees held to and trusted in. The prophet Isaiah declared how there were those who worshipped the Lord in vain, for they taught for and they taught as doctrine the commandments of men. Essentially that which Jesus the Christ was speaking unto the scribes and Pharisees was that what they were doing was teaching as doctrine the commandments of men. That which Jesus spoke unto the scribes and Pharisees was the powerful declaration that what they were passing off as doctrine, and what they were passing off as good, and righteous, and holy in the sight of the living God was actually nothing more than the commandments of men. In other words, that which the scribes and the Pharisees taught as doctrine was nothing more than their own commandments, their own reasoning, their own understanding, their own interpretation, and that which they believed to be true and righteous in the sight of the living God. The scribes and the Pharisees taught as doctrine the commandments of men and actually thought and believed that the commandments of men could indeed be passed off as the commandment of God.

            The words we find in this portion of Scripture must be carefully understood, for the scribes and the Pharisees would come unto Jesus thinking and attempting they could indict His disciples on the basis of their own traditions and their own commandments—traditions and commandments which were implemented and instituted by men—and yet Jesus would not have any of their accusation, any of their judgment, any of their criticism. Jesus would hear their argument and their accusation, and in direct response to it He would speak unto them and declare how they themselves would transgress and violate the commandment of God by and through their tradition. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare that it is not that which goes into the mouth which defiles a man, but that which comes out of the mouth. It is not that which enters into the mouth that defiles a man, but rather it is that which comes out of the mouth of a man which actually defiles Him. It would be in response to these words Jesus’ disciples would declare unto them that the Pharisees were offended with the words He had spoken when they heard His saying. To this Jesus would respond by declaring that every plant which His heavenly Father did not plant would be rooted up. Not only this, but Jesus would also declare unto the disciples that the scribes and the Pharisees were blind leaders of the blind—and if the blind lead the blind then both would fall into the ditch. Oh how we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find in this passage directly confront one of the single greatest troubles, dangers and temptations we face within this life in the flesh. Jesus would call the multitude unto Himself and declare that it is not that which goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but it is that which comes out of the mouth that defiles a man. These words would initially not be understood by Jesus’ disciples, and Simon also called Peter would come unto Jesus and ask Him to reveal and speak unto them the meaning and interpretation of the parable.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which are found within the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs consider the words which James the half brother of Jesus spoke unto those who were scattered and dispersed among the nations. It is when you come to the third chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by James you will encounter and come face to face with strong and powerful language concerning the tongue—and not only concerning the tongue, but also the tremendous power that is found within the tongue. It is in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James we are brought face to face with just how absolutely incredibly powerful—and even dangerous—the tongue can indeed and be. We cannot read the words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle which was written by James and not be brought face to face with just how deadly and dangerous the tongue can be. What’s more, is that not only are we brought face to face with how deadly and dangerous the tongue can be, but also how the tongue can indeed a source of all types of evil, all types of filth, and all types of corruption. James wrote unto those which were scattered abroad concerning the tongue, and how the tongue was indeed that which needed to be brought under control, and that which needed to be controlled by and according to the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs read and consider the words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written by James—and not only the epistle which was written by James, but also the words which were written by the apostle Paul in the eighth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Rome. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these two passages of Scripture:

            “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:12).

            “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but rather after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is anmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:1-11).

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider the words which are found in Jesus’ encounter with His disciples. It is as you read the words which are found in Jesus’ encounter with the disciples that you will find what is at the very heart of that which James wrote in the epistle which bears his name. If you read the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter beginning with the seventeenth verse you will find that Jesus would again declare how that which enters in at the mouth goes into the belly and is cast into the draught. Moreover, you will find Jesus declaring that those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart—thus indicating and pointing to the fact that there is this strong and intrinsic link and connection between the heart and what is within the heart and the mouth and what comes out of it. That which Jesus is speaking within this passage of Scripture is a truly astonishing and powerful picture and declaration that if we want to truly understand the nature and condition of our heart we must needs hear and listen to the words which proceed forth from our mouths. Oh if you want to truly understand the nature and the condition of your heart you need only hear and listen to that which proceeds forth from your mouth, for what proceeds forth from your mouth is the true litmus test of that which is found within your heart. The words which proceed forth from your mouth are indeed the barometer and thermometer for the temperature of your heart. We must needs realize and understand that if we want to truly understand the condition of our heart we have great need to pay close attention to the words which proceed out of our mouths. Not only this, but the words which proceed out of out mouths are directly linked and directly impacted by what is found within our hearts. The words which proceed from our mouths are directly linked to that which is found within our hearts, and it is our hearts which directly controls and dictates that which proceeds forth from our mouths. We cannot hear and listen to the words which proceed out of our mouths and not be directly and completely gripped with the fact that the words which we speak are first found buried within the inner recesses of our hearts.

            When you read the words Jesus spoke within this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus going on to declare that it is out of the heart which evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, and so much more flow from and proceed. Moreover, Jesus goes on to declare that it is these things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man. Oh we must needs realize and understand this, for the scribes and the Pharisees not only believed that the disciples violated and transgressed the tradition of the elders—that which Jesus described as being the commandment of men parading itself as doctrine. Jesus would then go on to emphatically declare unto the multitude that it was not that which entered into the mouth which defiled a man, but rather that which came out of the mouth that defiled a man. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to further declare that this defilement would begin in a place most would not even think or even consider. Jesus would indeed declare that what proceeds forth from the mouth would defile a man, however, Jesus would go on to further explain and declare that this defilement actually began within the heart. Much like that man who lusted after a woman within his heart was guilty of committing adultery, so also are men and women defiled—by and what is found within their heart. Jesus would indeed and would in fact declare that what comes out of the mouth of a man is that which defiles them, however, Jesus would go on to further declare and expound that this defilement would begin within the heart of that man or that woman. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this is, for it calls and draws our attention to an incredibly powerful reality that not only does defilement come from that which proceeds forth from out mouths, but so also does it begin with the heart. Jesus emphatically stated and declared that what proceeds forth from our lips and our mouths defiles us, and then goes on to further explain and declare that this defilement actually begins within the heart, as it is within the heart where all matters of life originate.

I bring this writing to a close by calling and drawing your attention to the absolutely tremendous and powerful truth that we as the people of God need to recognize and understand the true nature and condition of our hearts, for the condition of our hearts—and not only the conditions of our hearts, but that which is found within our hearts—directly impacts every area of our lives. It was Solomon the son of David king of Israel who instructed his sons to guard their hearts for out of it flowed the issues and matters of life. Oh we must needs realize and recognize this truly astonishing and powerful truth, for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible powerful truth that the single greatest source of defilement, corruption and pollution is the heart, and even Jeremiah declared that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things. Not only this, but Jeremiah would also ask who could indeed know the heart since it was deceitful and desperately wicked. IT was the psalmist who declared that they hid the word of God in their heart that they might not sin against Him. Oh please do not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that we must needs not only guard our lips, our tongues and our mouths carefully, but we must also guard our hearts. Solomon was absolutely and undeniably correct when speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and writing how we need to guard our hearts, for out of it flow the issues and matters of the life. There is a great and present need within our lives within this culture, within this society and within this generation to carefully examine the condition of our hearts—and not only the condition of our hearts, but also that which flows forth from our hearts. Whatever our heart looks like and whatever is found within our hearts can and will indeed be manifested within every area of our lives, and can and will be manifested in and with the words which proceed forth from our mouths. Oh that we would be a people who not only guard their hearts, but a people who realize and recognize the great importance of knowing what is in their heart, and allowing the Holy Spirit to extract anything within it that is not pleasing in the sight of the living God.

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