Beneath the Surface: It’s Always Beneath the Surface

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically today’s passage is found in the seventh chapter of this New Testament book. “Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwasahen hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” (Mark 7:1-13).

 

            “And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand. There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thin from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:14-23).

 

            “And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syrophonician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying, go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed” (Mark 7:34-30).

 

            “And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, though the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hands upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (Mark 7:31-37).

 

            When you come to the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark you will find the second account of the Pharisees and scribes coming forth from Jerusalem unto Jesus and His disciples. What makes this truly interesting when you read these words is when you ask yourself why the scribes and Pharisees would make their way from Jerusalem unto the region of Galilee. I have to admit the more I read the words which are found in this passage the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the scribes and the Pharisees and how there were multiple times when they would deliberately and intentionally come forth from the city of Jerusalem that they might examine the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without encountering and coming face to face with the continued opposition, accusation, condemnation and judgment of the scribes and the Pharisees. The four New Testament gospels are replete and abounding with example after example of the scribes and the Pharisees seeking to find fault with and accuse the Lord Jesus. There are a number of examples and accounts of the scribes and Pharisees coming forth from the city of Jerusalem that they might not only accuse the Lord Jesus but also find fault with Him. It is impossible to read the four gospel narratives written by the gospel authors and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and how He was continually targeted by the scribes and the Pharisees which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

 

            The more I read the four gospel narratives the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the continued accusation of religion toward and against the Lord Jesus Christ. The four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ are filled with various different accounts and narratives of the scribes and the Pharisees engaging themselves in accusation, judgment and condemnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact you cannot read any of the gospel accounts and not come face to face with the scribes and the Pharisees seeking to find fault with the Lord Jesus—and not only find fault with the Lord Jesus but also find means to accuse Him that they might destroy and put Him to death. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for on this particular occasion we find the scribes and Pharisees coming forth from Jerusalem—perhaps to spy out the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind the scribes and Pharisees which came forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem did so that they might spy out the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ that they might find grounds to accuse Him of wrongdoing.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but consider when I read the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s how the scribes, the chief priests, the Pharisees and the elders of the people would continually conspire together amongst themselves seeking for ways to destroy the Lord Jesus. Within each of the four New Testament gospels you will find the religious elite during the days of the Lord Jesus seeking to find fault and wrongdoing in Him that they might have grounds to put Him to death and destroy Him. What’s more is that when you come to the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find that not only did the religious elite during those days seek to destroy and put Jesus to death but the Jews also themselves found fault and wrongdoing within the Lord Jesus. As you take all four gospel narratives into consideration you will find that Jesus was at odds with the religious elite on multiple occasions—and not only at odds with the religious elite but also with the Jews. The New Testament gospel narrative calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth of the continued opposition and offense of the Jews toward and against the Lord Jesus beginning in the second chapter when the Lord Jesus would bring cleansing to the Temple by overturning the tables of money, driving out those who bought and sold as well as driving out the moneychangers and the sheep, the oxen, the doves and that which was sold in the house of His Father. The Jews would murmur and grumble among themselves and demand by what authority He would engage Himself in such behavior in the midst of the Temple of the Lord which was present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem during those days. It’s important to note that this would be the beginning of the opposition and resistance the Jews would exercise toward and against the Lord Jesus for they would continue to find fault with Him—and not only find fault with Him but also seek to destroy and put Him to death.

 

            What we find in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark is something that is truly intriguing when you take the time to consider it for it is the second account of the scribes and Pharisees coming forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem. That which is present within this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth regarding the scribes and the Pharisees which came forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem and would find fault when they came unto the person of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that as you read the words which are present in this passage of Scripture you will find that the fault the scribes and the Pharisees found on this particular occasion was not with the Lord Jesus Himself but with His disciples. Important to note about this is this would not be the only time the scribes and the Pharisees would find fault with the disciples of Jesus. Oh there were numerous times when the scribes and the Pharisees would find fault with the Lord Jesus, however, there would be two specific times when the scribes and the Pharisees would find fault with the disciples of the Lord Jesus. We must needs realize and understand that one of these times would be centered upon the sabbath and that which they found fault with them doing on the sabbath while the other time would be on this particular occasion when they would find fault with them for allegedly violating the traditions of the elders. The words and language we find in this passage of Scripture call and draws our attention to the fault and offense the scribes and the Pharisees would indeed find with the disciples of the Lord Jesus rather than and opposed to the Lord Jesus.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are present in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and how the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed witness and behold the offense of the scribes and Pharisees—not with Him but with His disciples. It is something worth thinking and considering when reading the four New Testament gospels how there would be specific times when the scribes and Pharisees would find fault—not with the Lord Jesus Christ but with His disciples. The words which we find in this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the truth of the scribes and the Pharisees and how they sought to find fault—not only with the Lord Jesus but also with His disciples. It would be on this particular occasion when the scribes and Pharisees would come forth out of Jerusalem they would witness and behold something about the disciples which they perceived as violating the tradition of the elders. What’s more is that not only did they find and observe something within the disciples which violated the tradition of the elders but they would also proceed to confront Jesus about it. Pause for a moment and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and how the scribes and Pharisees would come forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem and in the process would witness and observe something about the disciples that would indeed cause them to find fault—and perhaps not only find fault with but also be offended by and at the disciples of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will be brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the offense and fault the scribes and the Pharisees found with the disciples of the Lord Jesus.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the words found in this passage it’s that it’s not the first time we encounter it within the four gospel narratives. The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture are indeed present within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. That which we find in the seventh chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative presents us with the second of three accounts of the scribes and Pharisees coming forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem seeking to find some type of fault with the Lord Jesus. Scripture isn’t specifically clear when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture, however, we must needs recognize aqnd understand when reading these words that the scribes and Pharisees undoubtedly came forth from the city of Jerusalem to search and to spy out the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that they would conspire together amongst themselves to destroy and put Jesus to death and they would continually seek to find fault with Him that they might have grounds to accuse Him—and not only accuse Him but also to put Him to death. This is something we must needs understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the offense of the scribes and the Pharisees. On this particular occasion both religious groups would come forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem seeking to find some type of fault with the Lord Jesus. What’s more is I would dare say that they were not only seeking to find fault but they were seeking to find some new fault with the Lord Jesus.

 

            I read the words found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and how the scribes and the Pharisees sought to find fault and wrongdoing with the Lord Jesus. On most occasions the wrongdoing and fault they found with the Lord Jesus centered upon the sabbath and His healing men on the sabbath thus seemingly to disregard the Law of Moses and that which was spoken through Moses the servant of the living God. What we must needs recognize and understand within this passage of Scripture is how the scribes and Pharisees would come forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem—perhaps seeking to find fault with the Lord Jesus Christ—and how they found fault with His disciples instead. Pause for a moment and consider the words which we see in this passage of Scripture and how the scribes and the Pharisees undoubtedly came forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem seeking to find new fault and wrongdoing with the Lord Jesus and yet what they would find instead would be fault and wrongdoing with His disciples. The scribes and Pharisees would indeed come forth from the midst of Jerusalem to spy out and spy on the Lord Jesus and the words and works which He would engage in during those days and on this particular day they would find grounds to have offense with the disciples of the Lord Jesus. The scribes and the Pharisees would come forth from Jerusalem and would witness and observe SOME of the disciples of Jesus eat bread with defiled—that is to say with unwashed hands. As a direct result of this they would find fault with the disciples of Jesus—and I would dare say not only with the disciples of the Lord Jesus but also with the Lord Jesus Himself.

 

            I can’t help but imagine what went through the hearts and minds of the scribes and Pharisees when they witnessed and observed the disciples of Jesus eating bread with unwashed and what they perceived as being defiled hands. The scribes and the Pharisees which came forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem would indeed come forth from the city of Jerusalem seeking to find fault and grounds for offense and wrongdoing within the Lord Jesus and what they would find instead would be fault and wrongdoing with the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we must needs recognize and what I have already alluded to is that this wouldn’t be the first time the scribes and the Pharisees would find fault with the disciples but there would be a second time they would find fault with them. What’s more is that this would be the second time within the New Testament gospel narratives we find the account of the scribes and Pharisees finding fault with the disciples of Jesus—and not only find fault with the disciples of the Lord Jesus but also accusing them before and unto the Lord Jesus. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the first account of this particular occasion when the scribes and Pharisees would come forth from the city of Jerusalem unto the place where Jesus was and observing something which would cause them to find fault. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the fact that this fault had absolutely nothing to do with the words or the works of the Lord Jesus but would have everything to do with the behavior and practice of the disciples of the Lord Jesus. The fault which they would have with the disciples of the Lord Jesus would be centered upon the tradition of the elders and not even the Law of Moses. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth of the fault the scribes and Pharisees would find with the disciples and their accusing them before and unto the Lord Jesus.

 

            Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are present in the midst of the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is within this passage of Scripture we encounter and are brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the scribes and Pharisees perhaps seeking to find fault with the Lord Jesus Christ and yet finding fault with His disciples instead. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which the apostle Matthew wrote within his gospel account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ for it would serve as additional context for what we find in this passage of Scripture is the first narrative and account of the scribes and Pharisees finding fault with the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and accusing them before and unto the Lord Jesus. Oh it wasn’t enough for the scribes and Pharisees to find fault with the disciples of the Lord Jesus but they would accuse them before the Lord Jesus as though they were expressing some type of grievance within their hearts and minds. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize is that the scribes and the Pharisees not only found fault with the disciples of the Lord Jesus but also thought it necessary to accuse them before and unto the Lord Jesus. Perhaps the question which must needs to be asked is why the scribes and Pharisees would accuse the disciples before and unto the Lord Jesus. What did the scribes and Pharisees hope and seek to gain by accusing the disciples of the Lord Jesus on this particular occasion? Did the scribes and the Pharisees somehow think the Lord Jesus would condemn and rebuke the disciples—not only according to the tradition of the elders but also according to the offense of the elders?

 

            We are absolutely and entirely unsure and unclear as to what the scribes and Pharisees sought to accomplish on this particular occasion when they would accuse the disciples of Jesus unto Jesus Himself—and not based on some violation of the Law of Moses but rather based on an alleged violation of the tradition of the elders. Oh there is something we must needs recognize and understand concerning this for it calls and draws our attention to what the scribes and Pharisees sought to accomplish when they accused the disciples of the Lord Jesus unto Him on this particular occasion. Did the scribes and Pharisees actually think they could accuse the disciples of the Lord Jesus unto and before Him and that Jesus would somehow rebuke, accuse, condemn and judge His own disciples? Oh I have to admit that there is something truly unique and astonishing about the words we find in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the incredible reality of these scribes and Pharisees who would essentially leave their religious bubble in the midst of the city of Jerusalem that they might find and come unto the Lord Jesus seeking after and looking for fault. There is not a doubt in my mind the scribes and Pharisees came forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem seeking to find fault and offense with the Lord Jesus. I would dare say the scribes and Pharisees would indeed come forth from Jerusalem with the sole intention and purpose of finding fault with the Lord Jesus Christ as they had done countless other times. These scribes and Pharisees would leave their religious bubble with and for the sole purpose of coming unto Jesus hoping to find some new means of accusing Him. I firmly believe the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ would become the target of the offense, the fault, the accusation, the judgment and the condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees and would find themselves accused before and unto the person of the Lord Jesus.

 

            It is with this in mind I call and invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Beginning with the first verse of this New Testament gospel narrative we are brought face to face with the incredible reality of the scribes and Pharisees who did indeed come forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem seeking to find fault with the Lord Jesus Himself and yet would find fault with His disciples. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the first verse:

 

            “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 night unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:1-9).

 

            “And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoguhts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:10-20).

 

            With this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the twenty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah. It is the words which we find here in this prophetic book that serves as the foundation and background for that which the Lord Jesus on this particular occasion for He would quote the words of the prophet Isaiah when speaking unto the scribes and the Pharisees. It would be the words which the prophet Isaiah would speak within his generation that would be used of the Lord Jesus to speak unto the scribes, unto the Pharisees and unto the religious leaders which were present during those days. Having said this I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the twenty-ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah beginning with the ninth verse:

 

            “Stay yourselves, and wonder; Cry ye out, and cry: They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered, and the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? And who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: For shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? Or shall the thing formed say of him that framed it, He hath no understanding? Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought” (Isaiah 29:9-21).

 

            It is absolutely necessary to consider the words which are found in the twenty-ninth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah as well as the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. What we find in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is a description of this event when the scribes and the Pharisees came from Jerusalem unto Galilee that they might find fault and grounds to accuse and condemn the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something incredibly intriguing about the scribes and Pharisees seeking to find fault with the Lord Jesus for on this particular occasion we don’t find them finding fault with Jesus but rather His disciples. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it calls and draws our attention to the scribes and the Pharisees and their attempts to find anything and everything to accuse Jesus of. Time and time the scribes and the Pharisees would look for grounds to accuse Jesus of Nazareth and would ultimately seek to destroy and put Him to death. This is something we must needs recognize when reading the words found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by John Mark for within this passage we find the scribes and the Pharisees coming forth from Jerusalem and seeing some of the disciples of the Lord Jesus eating bread with defiled hands—that is hands which weren’t washed prior to eating. What’s more is that John Mark—like the apostle Matthew—would go on to write how the Pharisees and all the Jews would not eat except they washed their hands. Not only this but as you read the words which are found in this passage you will find that there were many other things they held to such as the washing of cups, and pots, and brazen vessels and tables.

 

            As we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be reminded of the words which we read in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is within this particular passage we are brought face to face with the incredible indictment the Lord Jesus brought against the scribes and the Pharisees. The same two groups of religious elitists which journeyed from Jerusalem unto Galilee to find fault with Jesus and find fault with His disciples would be the same ones whom Jesus indicted and rebuked on this particular occasion. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how when indicting the scribes and the Pharisees Jesus would speak even further about washing the outside rather than the inside. In indicting the scribes and the Pharisees the Lord Jesus would call and draw the attention of His disciples unto the scribes and the Pharisees and how these scribes and Pharisees focused on the external and outward parts of a man. In fact when indicting the scribes and Pharisees the Lord Jesus would indeed paint a powerful picture of how they would indeed spend a considerable amount of time cleaning the outside of the cup and of the platter without at all cleaning the inside of the dish. Not only this but Jesus would liken them unto white-washed sepulchres which outwardly appeared beautiful and yet inwardly was full of the dry bones of men. This is something we must needs understand and acknowledge for it helps shine a tremendous light on to that which is present within this passage of Scripture.

 

            It would be on this particular occasion when we are first brought face to face with this idea of the contrast between the internal and external sides of an individual. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must needs admit there is a vast difference between that which we show others on the external side of us and the actual internal side of us. There are countless men and women who spend more time focusing on their external appearance and making themselves look good than recognizing the tremendous need to cleanse the inward part of their beings. This is something we must needs understand and recognize for when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the powerful reality of Jesus emphatically declaring that it was not that which went into the man that defiled the man but that which proceeded forth from the man that would defile him. What’s more is that Jesus would declare that what proceeded forth from the mouth of a man would proceed specifically from his heart. The Lord would deliberately and intentionally declared unto His disciples when explaining His words that it would be out of the abundance of the heart the mouth would speak. Not only this there is something we must needs understand concerning the words which James would write in the third chapter of his epistle and the words which would also be found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It would be James who would speak of the danger(s) surrounding the tongue and how the tongue is a raging fire and a restless evil which must be tempered and controlled. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written by James as well as the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “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;a nd 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 3:1-12).

 

            Consider now the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the twenty-second verse:

 

            “Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amzed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Bellzebeub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But I if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong men? And then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:22-37).

 

            There is a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture as it invites us to consider the words which the Lord Jesus said. The Lord Jesus would emphatically declare how it would be out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and how it is by our words we would be justified and by our words we would be condemned. The words which the Lord Jesus spoke here on this particular occasion must needs be carefully considered as they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the condition and nature of our hearts. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we consider Jesus’ words unto the disciples after the Pharisees sought to indict them for somehow violating the tradition of the elders would reveal unto them that it was not that which went in through the mouth and not that which was consumed by a man that defiled him but rather that which came forth and proceeded out of it. The Lord Jesus would declare that it would be out of the storehouse and abundance of the heart the mouth would speak—and not only would the mouth speak but also would all manner of life flow. Remember the words of Solomon the son of David and king of Israel who instructed his sons to guard their heart for it is the well spring of life. There is a translation that presents the words of Solomon as being the need to guard our heart for out of it flow the issues of one’s life. This is where the words which James wrote are so incredibly telling and revealing for if you want to truly understand the condition and nature of your heart you need only listen to the words which proceed out of your mouth. There is perhaps not greater barometer to and for the condition of your heart than the words which proceed out of your mouth and from your lips.

 

            It’s absolutely incredible to read the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark for after the scribes and Pharisees tried indicting and accusing the disciples in the presence of the Lord Jesus He would flip the script on them and declare how Isaiah did well prophesy of them who were hypocrites. This would be the first time the Lord Jesus would directly refer to them as hypocrites—or at least I should say this particular encounter is the first time the Lord Jesus referred to them as hypocrites. If you read the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will encounter the countless times Jesus referred to the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites. Not only this but within that passage you will find the Lord Jesus referring to them as blind guides leading the blind, thus indicting them for their blindness and hypocrisy. The Lord Jesus would indict the scribes and Pharisees for honoring the living God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. What’s more is they would in vain worship the living God for they would teach as doctrines the commandments of men. OH please don’t miss and lose sight of this for what we find here is a strong indictment of the scribes and Pharisees for taking their own traditions and their own commandments and passing them off as doctrines. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning these days it’s that the people of Judaea and Galilee were living under the oppression and tyranny of the religious task masters. It would be during these days when the scribes and the Pharisees would indeed take their own commandments and their own rules and regulations and pass them off as doctrine and that which came and proceeded straight from the living God.

            I am absolutely convinced there is a need to consider the words found in this passage of Scripture and compare it to the words which we see in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. We must needs understand the words which the Lord Jesus taught and spoke unto His disciples concerning the scribes and the Pharisees for that which the Lord Jesus would do was indict the scribes and the Pharisees for their blindness and hypocrisy. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would indict the scribes and the Pharisees for being cruel and oppressive taskmasters during those days—a reality which we must needs understand. There is not a doubt in my mind we must consider the words which we find in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of the cruel oppression and affliction of the religious leaders which were present within the days of the Lord Jesus. We know that Rome oppressed those in Judaea and Galilee, however, we must also recognize that the religious leaders of that day oppressed them with their rules, their traditions and that which they passed off as the doctrines of the living God. In fact I would dare say it is for this reason the Lord Jesus called and invited all those who were tired and weary and heavy laden to come unto Him and He would give them rest. It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew before considering the words found in the twenty-third chapter of the same New Testament book:

 

            “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

            “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you to observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: For they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:1-12).

 

            “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).

 

            “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater condemnation” (Matthew 23:14).

            “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

 

            “Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall sear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall sear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon” (Matthew 23:16-22).

 

            “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mine and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:23-24).

 

            It is here at this particular juncture within the twenty-third chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are brought face to face with Jesus’ words spoken concerning the scribes and Pharisees—and not only concerning the scribes and Pharisees but concerning their focus on that which is external. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that the scribes and the Pharisees spent a considerable amount of time trying to make themselves appear righteous in the sight of those before and around them while inwardly they were full of hypocrisy and legalism. Despite their best efforts to make themselves appear righteous it would be the Lord Jesus who would declare in His Sermon on the Mount that unless the righteousness of His disciples exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. There is not a doubt in my mind that during these days we find the religious leaders focused so much on an external righteousness which was visible before and in the sight of men rather than an inward righteousness that was visible before and pleased the living God. What we find in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is a powerful declaration concerning the scribes and Pharisees and how they spent a considerable amount of time making the outward appear beautiful while the true person and the true reality was found beneath the surface. BENEATH THE SURFACE! IT IS ALWAYS BENEATH THE SURFACE!

 

            There is a great need to pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for that which the Lord Jesus sought to convey unto His disciples and those who gathered to hear and listen to Him speak was that we must needs be those who live our lives beneath the surface. What’s more is that we must not only live our lives beneath the surface but we must acknowledge that there is more beneath the surface than there is above the surface and upon the external presentation of our persons and lives. The Lord Jesus would indict the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy for they would devote themselves to making themselves appear outwardly righteous and pious in the sight of men while inwardly they were full of lies, extortion, hypocrisy and the like. Not only this but they were also blind leaders of the blind who could not lead anyone into the righteousness which pleased the one true and living God. This is something we must needs consider when reading these words for they bring us face to face with a religious group of people who were more concerned with how they appeared to others rather than how they appeared before and in the sight of the living God. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter of this same New Testament gospel beginning with the first verse:

 

            “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchures of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. YE serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:25-33).

 

            “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).

 

            “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as they hypocrites are: For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heath do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8).

 

            “Moreover when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:16-18).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the hypocrisy that was found at the very heart of the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees not only taught as doctrine the commandments of men but they allowed themselves to be bound by their own rules, their own regulations, their own traditions and the like. There is something within this passage of Scripture that calls us to recognize and understand the absolutely wonderful reality of the scribes and the Pharisees and how they sought to find fault with the disciples—not based on the Law of Moses and that which was commanded by the living God but rather by their own traditions. The scribes and the Pharisees were such that continually sought to find fault with the Lord Jesus and on two different occasions would find fault with the disciples. There would be one occasion when the scribes and the Pharisees would find fault with the disciples after observing them plucking ears of corn and eating them on the sabbath while there would be another occasion when the scribes and Pharisees would find fault with the disciples for observing them eating bread without washing their hands. Perhaps the question which must be asked is whether or not the scribes and Pharisees actually thought the disciples could have potentially defiled themselves because of this or whether or not they were solely worried about their own traditions. I can’t help but get the sense the scribes and Pharisees were not at all concerned with whether or not the disciples of Jesus defiled themselves by eating bread with unwashed hands but were instead concerned with the violation of their own traditions. The scribes and the Pharisees placed and exorbitant amount of emphasis on their traditions, their rules, their regulations and the like and as a direct result of this they would not only find fault with the disciples but would also accuse them before the Lord Jesus.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw unto your attention to the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture. If you take the time to read the words present in this passage you will find the second account of the Lord Jesus Christ being confronted on account of His disciples concerning the traditions of the elders. The scribes and the Pharisees came forth from the city of Jerusalem—perhaps without warning and without advanced notice—and upon coming unto the place where the Lord Jesus was they would witness and observe His disciples eating bread with what they perceived as defiled hands. It’s important to note that not only did the scribes allege that the disciples ate bread with defiled hands but they also alleged that the disciples had violated their traditions. It is based on this allegation we find the scribes and the Pharisees finding fault with the disciples and accusing them before and unto the Lord Jesus. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how upon hearing their words the Lord Jesus would declare concerning them how Isaiah prophesied well of them as hypocrites when he spoke of those who honored God with their lips and yet their heart was far from Him. What’s more is that Isaiah would go on to describe them as those who worship God in vain teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. As if this weren’t enough Jesus would go on to indict the scribes and Pharisees for laying aside the commandment of God that they might hold the tradition of men such was the washing of pots and cups. That which the Lord Jesus indicted the scribes and Pharisees was not only of worshipping God in vain, and not only worshipping God with their lips while their hearts were far from Him but also cleansing the outside of the person rather than the inward. The Lord Jesus would indeed indict the scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy as they chose to focus on the outward appearance in the sight of men rather than in the inward appearance which is visible unto the living God alone.

 

            It is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand the words which we find in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the same reality which we see in Jesus’ Sermon on the mount and His indictment of the scribes and Pharisees as mentioned in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is within both of these passages Jesus indicted religion and hypocrisy for professing to worship God and yet the heart is far from Him. Moreover Jesus would indict religion and hypocrisy for honoring God with ones lips while the heart is completely and utterly detached and removed. What’s more is Jesus would indict religion and hypocrisy for cleansing the outside of the vessel while leaving the inside of the vessel completely tarnished and defiled. Jesus would indict religion and hypocrisy for its focus on the outward and external appearance through His reference of the white washed tomb that outwardly appeared beautiful and yet inwardly was full of dead men’s bones. Jesus would indict them for wearing such elaborate and elegant garments within their generation and even spending time making themselves appear righteous unto men and yet inwardly they were full of extortion, idolatry, iniquity and the like. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning this particular account it’s just how incredibly important it is to confront and deal with any and every trace of religion and hypocrisy within our hearts. There is a great need for us to confront the Pharisee and the scribe that is present within our own hearts and lives that we might be those who are found righteous and worthy of the kingdom of the living God in this life and in the next. Oh that we would be men and women who would recognize and understand the tremendous importance of completely and utterly destroying and decimating every trace of religion and hypocrisy within our hearts and lives that we might be those who walk in righteousness and holiness in the sight of the living God.

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