Song: Only Wanna Sing
Artist: Young & Free
Purity, but really…
1 Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, 2 “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” Mt 15:1-2
While they’re talking about purity, they’re not really talking about purity. For the Pharisees, the main thing was their tradition. On the surface, their traditions appeared to be focused on all the right things…like purity. In this case, the purity rite of ceremonially washing before they eat.
I’ll bet the Pharisees would have loved Ikea. There’s a perfectly crafted nook and cranny to meet every conceivable purity need.
They often get a bad rap (Pharisees…and Ikea). But sometimes I think the Pharisees give expression to that little part of me that I’d rather ignore. I mean, if I’m honest, I like traditions too. Especially those traditions that help me parse the difference between right and wrong, pure and impure. It’s just easier when everything has it’s place – even if the instructions are all pictures, no words!
Honoring Parents, but really…
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? 4 For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 5 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’6 In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. 7 You hypocrites! … Mt 15:3-7
But Jesus pushes back. And he uses one of the Ten Commandments to make his point. Honor your parents.
While Jesus is talking about honoring parents, he’s not really talking about honoring parents. He’s talking about hypocrisy. About valuing tradition over command. About so emphasizing tradition that you miss the spirit of the command.
It’s about the Heart
And so he says,
16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” Mt 15:16-20
If only it were as simple as washing hands! But the heart is hard and messy work.
So, go ahead! Enjoy those delicious Ikea cinnamon rolls…but pay attention to your heart! Especially what’s flowing out of it.