The Enemy Murmurs

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.  Luke 15:2

Commentary from Matthew Henry…

The offence which the scribes and Pharisees took at this. They murmured, and turned it to the reproach of our Lord Jesus: This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them, Luk_15:2. 1. They were angry that publicans and heathens had the means of grace allowed them, were called to repent, and encouraged to hope for pardon upon repentance; for they looked upon their case as desperate, and thought that none but Jews had the privilege of repenting and being pardoned, though the prophets preached repentance to the nations, and Daniel particularly to Nebuchadnezzar. 2. They thought it a disparagement to Christ, and inconsistent with the dignity of his character, to make himself familiar with such sort of people, to admit them into his company and to eat with them. They could not, for shame, condemn him for preaching to them, though that was the thing they were most enraged at; and therefore they reproached him for eating with them, which was more expressly contrary to the tradition of the elders. Censure will fall, not only upon the most innocent and the most excellent persons, but upon the most innocent and most excellent actions, and we must not think it strange.

III. Christ’s justifying himself in it, by showing that the worse these people were, to whom he preached, the more glory would redound to God, and the more joy there would be in heaven, if by his preaching they were brought to repentance. It would be a more pleasing sight in heaven to see Gentiles brought to the worship of the true God than to see Jews go on in it, and to see publicans and sinners live an orderly sort of life than to see scribes and Pharisees go on in living such a life. This he here illustrates by two parables, the explication of both of which is the same.

The Old Fox

“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, ‘Get Thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill Thee.  And He said unto them,

‘Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third I shall be perfected.’” Luke 13:31-32  (KJB)

It seems to me from the history which Jesus has had with these Pharisees, that they are only, themselves doing the real tempter’s work (that is the devil’s); trying to get Jesus out of Jerusalem before He was to die, and run from the work He came to do.

Jesus’s response was to respond without evil intent but to really assure His tempter’s help that He was aware of Herod’s  and of their feeble attempts.

Jesus was going to continue His work of healing and ministry right on up to the time of His death on the cross.  He would continue to heal, to cast out demons; and when He died on the third day He would be  perfected – He would rise from the grave in His glory.

That is the response every man and woman of God should do.  Let us continue being faithful to God’s will and glory until our  time of death, then He will raise us up with perfect bodies.

Come to  Jesus.  He died for you.  He carried away the guilt and condemnation of your sin in His burial. He arose from the grave conquering death and the grave, and He will raise you up alive too.

Leaven and Bread

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.  And He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, ‘Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened?  Having eyes, see ye not?, and having ears, hear ye not?, and do ye not remember?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’
They say unto Him, ‘Twelve.’  ‘And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’  And He said unto them, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?’” Mark 8:14-21  (KJB)

Leaven is an ingredient which causes bread to rise giving the appearance of being more than what it is.  It is puffed up.  It is often used in Scripture as representative of evil and its influence in people, and doctrines of religion and men.

The leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Herodians which the Sadducees were part of and was more political than religious.  The Pharisees were always twisting Scripture to fit their own understanding to keep the people in bondage to them, and their understanding of Scripture.  They put burdens on others that they would not do themselves.

I realize there is more to understand in the above verses than of leaven, but it was the words of Jesus ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ which aroused my attention this morning.

Using Scripture to control others as did the Pharisees, and they tried to control Jesus too but could not; is an evil beyond description.  The preacher, the messenger of the word of God is to proclaim the truth of the word of God [Scripture] with clarity, understanding, and love letting the word and the Holy Spirit convict, comfort, encourage, and draw the lost, condemned soul to God.

Having a “Must do” list in order to be saved is leaven to the Scripture.  Salvation, sanctification, and glorification is solely the work of God.  Let us leave it there.

The Plants Our Father Has Not Planted

“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.’” Matthew 15:12-14  (KJB)

From the Matthew Henry Commentary…

The rooting out of them and their traditions (Mat_15:13); Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Not only the corrupt opinions and superstitious practices of the Pharisees, but their sect, and way, and constitution, were plants not of God’s planting. The rules of their profession were no institutions of his, but owed their origin to pride and formality. The people of the Jews were planted a noble vine; but now that they are become the degenerate plant of a strange vine, God disowned them, as not of his planting. Note, (1.) In the visible church, it is no strange thing to find plants that our heavenly Father has not planted. It is implied, that whatever is good in the church is of God’s planting, Isa_41:19. But let the husbandman be ever so careful, his ground will cast forth weeds of itself, more or less, and there is an enemy busy sowing tares. What is corrupt, though of God’s permitting, is not of his planting; he sows nothing but good seed in his field. Let us not therefore be deceived, as if all must needs be right that we find in the church, and all those persons and things our Father’s plants that we find in our Father’s garden. Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; see Jer_19:5; Jer_23:31, Jer_23:32. (2.) Those that are of the spirit of the Pharisees, proud, formal, and imposing, what figure soever they make, and of what denomination soever they be, God will not own them as of his planting. By their fruit you shall know them. (3.) Those plants that are not of God’s planting, shall not be of his protecting, but shall undoubtedly be rooted up. What is not of God shall not stand, Act_5:38. What things are unscriptural, will wither and die of themselves, or be justly exploded by the churches; however in the great day these tares that offend will be bundled for the fire. What is become of the Pharisees and their traditions? They are long since abandoned; but the gospel of truth is great, and will remain. It cannot be rooted up.

Follow the One who gave His life on the cross for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of that grave.  He forever lives making intercession for sin.

Division

“Therefore said some of the Pharisees, ‘This Man is not of God, because He keepeth not the sabbath day.’ Others said, ‘How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?’ And there was a division among them.”  John 9:16  (KJB)

This division started over Jesus giving sight to a blind man on the sabbath day.  Once again the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the sabbath law.  Jesus has addressed this foolish accusation several times before, but these accusers refuse to listen.

When we do not hear what our Lord says, and choose to believe wrongly there will continue to be division and discord.  This is so in groups, churches, and the individual’s own personal life.

The answer to that?  Hear what Jesus says, believe Him and do it.

When the New Comes

“And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Thy disciples fast not?’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.’
” Mark 2:18-22  (KJB)

The religious leaders of Jerusalem, of Israel, had made traditions laws; and those traditions were in many cases loopholes around the law of Moses.  Of course the Pharisees held the law of Moses in high esteem, but then violated it; and that is what Jesus is confronting.

The question was asked about fasting. From the previous verses we see that it was the scribes and Pharisees who were asking Jesus this question.  They needed the confrontation.  O, if only they would have heard.

There are two New things which Jesus mentions; the first is a “New cloth”.  The old garment was the old religion of the Hebrews which had been tainted by their traditions which provided loopholes; which was mostly for those in the know about the loopholes which would have been the priests and the scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus confronted their sin.  You cannot sew a new piece of cloth onto a old piece of clothing with a good outcome.  When you wash the garment the new piece will shrink, and tear the old garment, because the old does not shrink.  Jesus brought in, brought us the new way of faith and life, fulfilling the law to the max.

The second New thing is “New wine”.  Old wine skins have reached their max with the fermentation process, so new wine skins would be needed for new wine.  The Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) is given to all who are born again in Christ Jesus and His finished work on Calvary. The New wine is a picture of that work of the Spirit of God making us new in Him.  He is not available for those who refuse to repent of their sins, and refuse to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Like the New wine needs in a new wine skin, so too does the Spirit of God work in a new heart given to Christ.

Missing The Sign

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired Him that He would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” Matthew 16:1-4

The Sign of all signs was standing in front of them. The Sign was the One whom they was challenging, confronting; and so rudely. These were men who should have known – the Pharisees and Sadducees; men of the Bible, the Law and the Prophets, and they could quote it. That only proves that being able to quote the Bible does not guarantee you a spot in heaven.

These were men who had seen Jesus do many mighty things.  He had made the lame to walk, opened the eyes of the blind, and raised a dead girl to life; just to name a few.  Yet they wanted a sign from heaven.

Would they have believed if He had given them one?  NO!  Jesus knew that.  They would not believe even though one would rise from the dead (Luke 16:31).

What about you?  What will it take to convince you that Jesus Himself is the Sign sent from God; that He is the gift of God for eternal life?  The sign is that He went to the cross to die for the sins of the world, made atonement for us; He was buried, and He arose from that grave, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Do not Miss The Sign.

Blessings Under the Table

“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 Syrophenician 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 7:24-30  (KJB)

For the commentary today I turn to Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture…

“CHILDREN AND LITTLE DOGS
Our Lord desired to withdraw from the excited crowds who were flocking after Him as a mere miracle-worker and from the hostile espionage of emissaries of the Pharisees, ‘which had come from Jerusalem.’ Therefore He sought seclusion in heathen territory. He, too, knew the need of quiet, and felt the longing to plunge into privacy, to escape for a time from the pressure of admirers and of foes, and to go where no man knew Him. How near to us that brings Him! And how the remembrance of it helps to explain His demeanour to the Syrophcenician woman, so unlike His usual tone! Naturally the presence of Jesus leaked out, and perhaps the very effort to avoid notice attracted it. Rumour would have carried His name across the border, and the tidings of His being among them would stir hope in some hearts that felt the need of His help. Of such was this woman, whom Mark describes first, generally, as a ‘Greek’ (that is, a Gentile), and then particularly as ‘a Syrophcenician by race’; that is, one of that branch of the Phoenician race who inhabited maritime Syria, in contradistinction from the other branch inhabiting North-eastern Africa, Carthage, and its neighbourhood. Her deep need made her bold and persistent, as we learn in detail from Matthew, who is in this narrative more graphic than Mark. He tells us that she attacked Jesus in the way, and followed Him, pouring out her loud petitions, to the annoyance of the disciples. They thought that they were carrying out His wish for privacy in suggesting that it would be best to ‘send her away’ with her prayer granted, and so stop her ‘crying after us,’ which might raise a crowd, and defeat the wish. We owe to Matthew the further facts of the woman’s recognition of Jesus as ‘the Son of David,’ and of the strange ignoring of her cries, and of His answer to the disciples’ suggestion, in which He limited His mission to Israel, and so explained to them His silence to her. Mark omits all these points, and focuses all the light on the two things-Christ’s strange and apparently harsh refusal, and the woman’s answer, which won her cause.
Certainly our Lord’s words are startlingly unlike Him, and as startlingly like the Jewish pride of race and contempt for Gentiles. But that the woman did not take them so is clear; and that was not due only to her faith, but to something in Him which gave her faith a foothold. We are surely not to suppose that she drew from His words an inference which He did not perceive in them, and that He was, as some commentators put it, ‘caught in His own words.’ Mark alone gives us the first clause of Christ’s answer to the woman’s petition: ‘Let the children first be filled.’ And that ‘first’ distinctly says that their prerogative is priority, not monopoly. If there is a ‘first,’ there will follow a second. The very image of the great house in which the children sit at the table, and the ‘little dogs’ are in the room, implies that children and dogs are part of one household; and Jesus meant by it just what the woman found in it,-the assurance that the meal-time for the dogs would come when the children had done. That is but a picturesque way of stating the method of divine revelation through the medium of the chosen people, and the objections to Christ’s words come at last to be objections to the ‘committing’ of the ‘oracles of God’ to the Jewish race; that is to say, objections to the only possible way by which a historical revelation could be given. It must have personal mediums, a place and a sequence. It must prepare fit vehicles for itself and gradually grow in clearness and contents. And all this is just to say that revelation for the world must be first the possession of a race. The fire must have a hearth on which it can be kindled and burn, till it is sufficient to bear being carried thence.
Universalism was the goal of the necessary restriction. Pharisaism sought to make the restriction permanent. Jesus really threw open the gates to all in this very saying, which at first sounds so harsh. ‘First’ implies second, children and little dogs are all parts of the one household. Christ’s personal ministry was confined to Israel for obvious and weighty reasons. He felt, as Matthew tells us, that He said in this incident that He was not sent but to the lost sheep of that nation. But His world-wide mission was as clear to Him as its temporary limit, and in His first discourse in the synagogue at Nazareth He proclaimed it to a scowling crowd. We cannot doubt that His sympathetic heart yearned over this poor woman, and His seemingly rough speech was meant partly to honour the law which ruled His mission even in the act of making an exception to it, and partly to test, and so to increase, her faith.
Her swift laying of her finger on the vulnerable point in the apparent refusal of her prayer may have been due to a woman’s quick wit, but it was much more due to a mother’s misery and to a suppliant’s faith. There must have been something in Christ’s look, or in the cadence of His voice, which helped to soften the surface harshness of His words, and emboldened her to confront Him with the plain implications of His own words. What a constellation of graces sparkles in her ready reply! There is humility in accepting the place He gives her; insight in seeing at once a new plea in what might have sent her away despairing; persistence in pleading; confidence that He can grant her request and that He would gladly do so. Our Lord’s treatment of her was amply justified by its effects. His words were like the hard steel that strikes the flint and brings out a shower of sparks. Faith makes obstacles into helps, and stones of stumbling into ‘stepping-stones to higher things.’ If we will take the place which He gives us, and hold fast our trust in Him even when He seems silent to us, and will so far penetrate His designs as to find the hidden purpose of good in apparent repulses, the honey secreted deep in the flower, we shall share in this woman’s blessing in the measure in which we share in her faith.
Jesus obviously delighted in being at liberty to stretch His commission so as to include her in its scope. Joyful recognition of the ingenuity of her pleading, and of her faith’s bringing her within the circle of the ‘children,’ are apparent in His word, ‘For this saying go thy way.’ He ever looks for the disposition in us which will let Him, in accordance with His great purpose, pour on us His full-flowing tide of blessing, and nothing gladdens Him more than that, by humble acceptance of our assigned place, and persistent pleading, and trust that will not be shaken, we should make it possible for Him to see in us recipients of His mercy and healing grace.” EXPOSITIONS OF HOLY SCRIPTURE Alexander MacLaren

Not the End; The Fulfillment

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
  Matthew 5:17-20  (KJB)

Remember this you who make an end of the Law and the Prophets.  These are the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Eighty and Eight

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

It would appear that the fulfilling of the “Law and the prophets” is the ultimate fulfillment of Righteousness; according to the words of Jesus.  We see that Jesus is the fulfillment, because we have no Righteousness except through Him.

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the righteousness of Christ to reign in my life, so that others might see Him in me, be convicted of sin, turn from their sin to Christ, calling on His name for salvation.

There is no righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, except that of Jesus.

This Man will Receive You

One of the things that causes jealousy in the hearts and minds of men and women is when someone else gets more notice, and attention than we do.

This jealousy is quite evident among the religious leaders of Jesus’s time on earth with us; walking, talking, teaching, living for the Father, and His glory. The way He lived, the words He spoke, the kindness in His voice to the weak, the lame, the sick, the poor, and the outcasts was what drew these people to Him.

Luke the Historian of the life of Christ writes:

“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:1-2 (KJV)

Why do the religious always want to seek after those who have? Why do those, even, who profess themselves to be Christian go after the same? Jesus had no ill motive of seeking what the wealthy, religious leaders had to offer. He came to save souls (Luke 19:10).

The publicans were the most hated of people. They were the tax collectors of the day. Hebrew people who were collecting money from their own to give to the Roman government; therefore very despised, and hated; yet, Jesus would sit with them speak with them, and treat them with dignity and respect.

As Christians in the world of 2015 we must be as Jesus and treat all people; no matter their race, their economic level; their political affiliation; their illnesses; or transgressions; must treat them with the love and respect that Jesus would. Yes! That would include the muslim religion, and any other religious sect.

In loving them; we still confront sin; and its crippling, killing affects on those who are enslaved by it.

Draw near to Christ today. He loves you so much that He died on the cross for you, was buried, and rose again.

Doctrines of Death

There are teachings of men and religions which are doctrines of death; not life. Teachings which bind in sin, and offers no freedom from sin, are doctrines of death.

Of course when we live in a society and culture of sin; who knows what is sin? Who knows what is right and/or wrong? According to our culture today the only thing wrong, is to say sin is wrong, if that sin is how they are living. In other words to call adultery a sin is a sin, because you have offended the sinner.

Jesus came to give life to those who were living death sentences. We are all living a death sentence until we come to Christ Jesus Himself. Jesus saw the teachings of the Pharisees, and of Herod as leaven. In Scripture “leaven” or yeast is a type of sin which permeates, and goes throughout the “bread” causing it to rise, or puff up. Hear the words of Jesus:

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:14-15 (KJV)

Jesus addresses much of the leaven of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They were making people more disciples of hell than they themselves were with their teaching. Herod was a political leader; and of that we need to be aware as well. Jesus called him “That fox” (Luke 13:32).

Religion and politics mix well when they are corrupt. The religion of the day; in the day of Jesus and ours, and politics are deceptive, and corrupt. The religion that mixes well with politics is the religion that believes politics is the answer for mankind’s ills, and works to attain God’s favor.

There is life when one comes to Jesus believing Him, and turning from sin to life in Him.

Shutting Up the Kingdom of Heaven

There is something about the gospel of Christ that the worldly man, even some of the spiritual elite who hate it. Some people want, desire people to follow them, their teachings, their philosophies, and when the true gospel of Christ Jesus is presented; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ they stand against it.

One of the Communist leaders of the past said, “Religion is an opiate of the people” or something very similar to that. Sad part about that statement is is that it is mostly a true statement. Religion blinds minds, cripples thinking, and makes captives of a people who ought to be free.

Something many people need to realize is that true Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ came into the world to free us from our sin, and its condemnation; our captivity to fear. There were those in the days of Jesus Christ who would not believe the message of Christ, because it freed the people from the binding message of their religion.

Jesus said,

“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 (KJV)

This is the beginning of seven woes announced, by Jesus, against the scribes who were teachers of the law, and the Pharisees who were a religious sect of the day. During the days of Jesus it would seem that their duty, and work was to keep people from the kingdom of God and heaven. In essence to keep their followers from following Jesus Christ.

These woes are announcements against them. They are working ruin. Religion for the most part is against Christ. Religion is the attempts of men, women, and children to try to gain God’s favor their own way; in their own personal labors. Faith in Christ Jesus is coming to God His Way trusting only in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is for the grace of God. Grace is shown to us through the cross of Jesus. God putting on His Son all the unrighteousness, all the filth of sin, and its condemnation; and pouring His wrath on His only begotten Son. Then, when you or I look to Jesus God places on us all the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Now, all those who receive this precious, eternal gift, have eternal life with Jesus forever. Do not let the teaching of men and religion that is false keep you from the kingdom. The kingdom is Jesus Christ Himself.

Scripture and Ever Present GOD

Some men have questioned Jesus on the teaching of the resurrection. These questions come from men who do not believe in the spiritual things. They do not believe in angels, or a resurrection; so Jesus knows that they are trying to deceive and trick Him into an answer that will trap Himself.

These were the Sadducees. A religious sect of the time which is believed to be made up of the Hebrew priesthood; and rejected many of the traditions of the elders, according to NELSON’S NEW ILLUSTRATED BIBLE DICTIONARY. They hated the Pharisees, and Jesus; yet both sects tried to trap Jesus, and eventually were together in His crucifixion.

Seven brothers for one bride (Matthew 22:23-28). A matter of Levirite marriage where if a man has a brother and he marrys a woman, and then he dies the next brother is to take his wife. The question is a ludicrous one; at least in my thinking. Hear the words of Jesus to them:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.” Matthew 22:29-33 (KJV)

They were in error because they did not know the Scriptures; yet they prided themselves in knowing Scripture. The problem was – they did not believe it.

Jesus confronted them of their ignorance, and unbelief. Really it comes down to the point of questioning, if they even believed in God. Jesus put the men in their proper place.

In the resurrection things will be different from earth. Jesus says that there will not be any marriage in the resurrection, nor will any be given in marriage, but we will be as the angels. For Jesus to say that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; is to show that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in fact still very much alive.

“I am the God of Abraham, … Isaac, … and Jacob” shows that God is a very present God. A “NOW” God. He did not say “I was…”. He did not say “I will be…” He said, “I am”.

Do you know Him through His Son Jesus Christ? Do you know Him NOW?

The Righteous Cannot be Saved

Many religions place importance on doing something to gain God’s favor. Let me at the beginning just say; there is nothing you or I can do to gain God’s favor. There is no sacrifice, there is no sacrament, there is no good deed to your neighbor or the world which will gain you or me eternal life and/or the favor of Holy God.

This very mentality is what Jesus is addressing in the following verses:

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:10-13 (KJV)

When Jesus was ministering to the publicans (tax collectors) and sinners the religious leaders began questioning Jesus’s purpose, power, and ministry. “What kind of man would sit with tax collectors and sinners?” they were asking themselves, and the disciples.

There is only one sacrifice which God the Father accepts; and that is the sacrifice, the death of His only begotten Son. Still the religious; the self-righteous try to gain the favor; the grace; of God through sacrifice and sacrament.

God shows grace and mercy to the sinner who will come to Him through the cross of His Son Jesus with a repentant heart. Through the act of repentance on the part of the sinner, trusting Christ Jesus, God clothes the sinner in the righteousness of God the Son.

You may be a righteous person today. You cannot be saved. Until you see yourself as the sinner your really are you will remain lost, condemned, dying, guilty, and spiritually dead.

Come to the Father through the cross of Jesus. Sinner hear Him and be saved. He came to save the sinner.

The Things Which Defile Humankind

“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 thoughts, 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.’”  ~Jesus (Matthew 15:10-20)

Jesus and Labor on the Sabbath

“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that He went through the corn fields; and His disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.  And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, ‘Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?’  And Jesus answering them said, ‘Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?’ And He said unto them, that ‘The Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath.’”  ~Jesus addressing the Pharisees concerning the sabbath  (Luke 6:1-5)

New Clothes, New Containers

“And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Thy disciples fast not?’  And Jesus said unto them, ‘Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.  No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.’”  Mark 2:18-22

The Signs and Times

I read the Scriptures this morning, and the following verses were what have rested in my heart.  So probably more for me; but I am pretty sure others will be able to hear God speak through them too.

“And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.” Genesis 41:1-8 (KJV)

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired Him that He would shew them a sign from heaven.  He answered and said unto them, ‘When it is evening, ye say, ‘It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.  And in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring.’ O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?  A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.’  And He left them, and departed.”  Matthew 16:1-4 (KJV)

As you can see; one from the Old Testament book of Genesis, and the other from the Gospel of Matthew.  Following Pharoah’s dream he could not find an interpreter of the dream until Joseph was revealed.  In the Gospel of Matthew the Pharisees and Sadducees had the word of God, and had the Son of God standing in their presence; and they too were oblivious to the signs of the times they were in.

Pharoah received Joseph, and his interpretation, and Egypt was delivered from the famine that could have come on them all.  Joseph is a shadow, type, or picture of Jesus Christ.  Just as Pharoah received Joseph, though he had been rejected by his brothers; so to must the people of today receive the message of Jesus and Jesus Himself in order to be delivered from the slavery to sin.

One fear that I have is that many who profess Jesus as Saviour of their lives do not recognize the signs that tell us the time here is short.  Let me give you a few; 1.  Rampant sin and rebellion;  2. Universal approval of sinful behaviors;  3.  Things which use to be wrong are now right, and things once right are now wrong.  Is that enough?  Lift up your heads your redemption draweth nigh.  Put another way; Jesus is coming soon.  No I am not talking about “The end of the world”.  I am talking about a true change.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 75 – Loving The Lord Unto Life

We have heard it said, “I will love the Lord, even unto death”; Peter said something similar to that; even as the Lord told him “You will deny Me three times”.

My reading this morning was in Acts 6 through chapter 15.  These events give us some details of the work of the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives.  Even the life of a young Pharisee who was intent on killing those Christians has his life dramatically changed when he meets Jesus Christ as he is on his way to Damascus to capture, chain and return to Jerusalem with them for trial and death (Acts 9).

Stephen was one of the men who were chosen in chapter six by the church to be a servant, feeding the Greek widows among them.  Stephen was also an evangelist proclaiming the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ and showed his love for the Lord even unto life.

Hear what Luke writes in his accounts of the work of the Spirit of God –

“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.  Then they suborned men, which said, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.’  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, ‘This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.’   And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”  Acts 6:8-15 (KJV)

Stephen was full of faith and power, by the Holy Spirit.  He stood strong for the gospel even though it could mean the loss of life for him.  His love for Jesus Christ and the gospel was stronger than his love for this world, and the life he now had.  He stands in chapter seven with conviction and proclaims the word of God from the Old Testament; and they fall under conviction.

Do we know what “conviction” is today?  The conviction I speak of is where you feel some guilt for your sin; and shame for your behavior; there is repentance; and you are drawn to see that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God; and that through Him alone there is forgiveness, peace and eternal life.  Sometimes this conviction, with those who hate God, will cause them to do cruel, evil and vile things; in rebellion against God and His children.  Just as it happened with Stephen.

Luke records the sermon Stephen preached, and records these final words,

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”  Acts 7:51-53

This was the final straw for this rebellious crowd.  They were “cut to the heart” then they ran upon him, and Stephen saw  “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (v. 56).  In the home going of Stephen we can see traits of the Lord Jesus in him.  As he is being stoned by the mob he says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (v. 59).  Then as he breathes his final breath on earth Stephen cries out with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (v. 60).

There is another who loved not their life unto death, and that was that young Pharisee; who has now become a Christian, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His name was Saul and he was from Tarsus.  His name became Paul and he has written 14 of the New Testament Epistles.

In a place called Lycaonia Paul and Barnabas were believed to be gods, because they had healed a crippled man, but Paul and Barnabas rejected the worship and tried to convince them they were not gods, but only men.  When some Jews came from Antioch they stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city, believing him to be dead;

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.  Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”  Acts 14:19-20

The apostle Paul did not quit; nor did he soften the gospel message.  He got up from where they left him, went back into the city, shook the dust off his feet (Matthew 10:14;  Mark 6:11;  Luke 9:5), and went on preaching the gospel; loving the Lord unto life.

Let the Christians of our day Love the Lord unto Life.  Eternal life.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Mark – 031611

Today’s Reading is from Mark 11 – 13.

The religious leaders of Jesus ‘s day were having trouble with the idea of Messiah being more than a man; however, Jesus asks them a question concerning a writing of David, a king of Israel whom they all respected, and admired.

“And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, ‘How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?  For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’  David therefore himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is He then his son?’ And the common people heard Him gladly.”  Mark 12:35-37 (KJV)

In this statement which is quoted from Psalm 110:1 declares Messiah to be David’s Lord.  The scribes are correct in calling Christ or Messiah the “Son of David”; however, since David is calling Him “Lord” then there is a great confession from David that the Christ is also the Son of God, the God-Man.

The following is a quote from the MacArthur Study Bible on verse 37;

12:37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord.’ Jesus interpreted Ps. 110:1 for the Pharisees.  David would not have called one of his descendants “Lord.”  Thus the Messiah is more than the “Son of David”– He is also the “Son of God.”  Jesus was proclaiming the Messiah’s deity, and thus His own (cf. Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8; Matt. 22:45).

and from the ESV Study Bible;

Mark 12:35–37 While in the temple, Jesus publicly raises a question that he has already discussed in private with his disciples: who is the Messiah of God—is he essentially the son of David or the Lord of David? Jesus’ point is not to deny that the Messiah is a descendant of David (e.g., Ps. 2:1–12; 89:1–52; Isa. 9:1–7; Jer. 23:5–6; Ezek. 34:23–24). The issue is that, in this passage (i.e., Ps. 110:1–5), there is no mention of the Messiah being the son of David; rather, the Messiah is here the “Lord of David” (see note on Matt. 22:41–46). Jesus affirms the divine inspiration of the Psalm through the Holy Spirit. The Lord (Hb. Yahweh) grants to David’s Lord (Hb. ’Adonay) an exclusive place of honor at his right hand and helps David’s Lord overcome his enemies. Jesus anticipates being exalted to the right hand of God, and thus he far transcends any expectation of a merely political, Davidic messiah.

When anyone argues against the deity of Jesus Christ they argue against the very word of God; Old and New Testaments.

-Tim A. Blankenship

David’s Christ

“And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.”  Mark 12:35-37

The scribes would profess and teach that the “Messiah” was the “Son of David”, but they were not acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.  What was their problem?  In the Psalms David calls the Messiah, “Lord” (Ps. 110:1).  The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees [religious leaders] were rejecting Jesus as the Christ [Messiah].  Therefore, Jesus is putting forth a lesson they must hear and learn.  If the Messiah is the Son of David, and Jesus is the fulfillment of the coming of Messiah, then He must also be Lord and God in flesh.

Jesus is not disagreeing with the premise that the Messiah is the “Son of David”, but He is strengthening it.  In Psalm 110 verse 1 David is acknowledging the Messiah as Lord.  “The LORD [Father God] said unto my Lord [Messiah/Christ]…”.  In this passage Jesus is declaring the Messiah’s deity, and thus, His own deity.

The religious leaders did not believe the Messiah would be anything more than just a man, and that was the reason for Jesus’ question.  If David is recognizing the Messiah as Lord, then He is more than “just a man”; more than “just the son of David”; He is the incarnate [in the flesh] God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It Lawful…To Do Good?

“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.  And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.  And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.  And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.  And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.”  Mark 3:1-6 (KJV)

These people came to “synagogue” seeking  help.  Did it matter that it was the “Sabbath Day”?  Only to those who watched with a longingness to catch Jesus “breaking their law”.  He was, in fact breaking no law; but fulfilling the law.  They were looking for anything with which they could charge Jesus, and cause people to turn from Him.

The man with the withered hand was a human life.  He had a need.  He had probably been to the synagogue many times and no one  offered to help him.  Now Jesus was there with a message, a helping hand and a heart of grace, mercy and love.

The Pharisees even teamed up with the Herodians.  The Herodians were a Jewish political “party” who were favorable toward Herod Antipas the governor at the time of Judea.  These people hated the Pharisees, but they hated Jesus even more.  The Pharisees hated Jesus because He was popular, powerful, and dangerous to their traditions and laws.  The Herodians hated Jesus because He was seen as a threat to the rule of Judea – at least as they saw it.

Jesus’ question should have really thrown them off their guard (“And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”).  Is not the life of a fellow human being of more value than a misinterpreted law or tradition?  Jesus thought so; and taught so.  The Pharisees did not.  Who will we believe?  Whom will we follow?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It All About Bread???

The Pharisees and Sadducees were a constant heartache to our Lord. As they were supposed to be the religious leaders of Israel during this time they were filled with doubts, unbelief, jealousy, and condemnation of any and all; including our Lord; who were not “letter for letter” correct to their own understanding. Many of these men hated Jesus, very few loved Him.

After dealing with the Pharisees concerning signs (vv. 1-4) Jesus will deal with the disciples concerning their faith, give them warning concerning evil doctrine, and hypocrisy.

“And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:5-12 (KJV)

The disciples must have had their attention diverted by physical need concerning Jesus’s caveat concerning the “leaven of the Pharisees”. It had not been so long ago that they had witnessed the power of the Lord when He took 5 loaves of bread and two small fish, and fed a multitude of 5000 men, plus women and children (14:13-21), then later fed 4000 men, plus women and children with seven loaves a “a few little fishes” (15:32-38). They had forgotten to bring food with them, except for one loaf (Mark 8:14), and they assume that Jesus is speaking of bread.

He speaks of “Leaven”. Of course, leaven is used in bread. It is, however, used to puff up, fluff up, and stuff up. It gives baked goods a fuller appearance than they would have without it. It is my belief that every time there is mention of “leaven” in Scripture, it is as a symbol of hindrance, sin, or evil. Hindrance because when the children of Israel were leaving Egypt they were commanded to prepare bread without leaven (Exodus 12:15-20). They were going to be leaving Egypt very quickly, therefore no time could be taken to allow bread to rise, thus they would have been in rebellion to even have it in their homes. Leaven also represents false doctrine, and hypocrisy (clouds without rain in a time of drought).

There are many professing Christians in our day who do not believe we need to be concerned about doctrine; whether it be right or wrong; just believe something. Anything is okay as long as you sincerely believe something; even if it is that your dog is the reincarnation of Geronimo. Jesus, however, gives an earnest warning to His disciples to “Take heed and beware of the leaven [doctrine] of the Pharisees. It is also a warning of hypocrisy. There is glaring hypocrisy in the Pharisees; requiring things of the people they lead, and give themselves loopholes around their own laws. False doctrine, and hypocrisy seem to go together.

Jesus’s warning is for all Christians of all ages, because we fall into a gross pit of oozing manure when we fall into false teaching and hypocrisy. Very often a pit that is very hard to get out of, or be rescued from.

It is not all about bread. It is not all about physical needs; Jesus meets those needs daily. It is a warning of being sure the doctrine is right and they life is right with God. This means much of the responsibility for remaining correct in what we believe and how we live lays on our own shoulders, and the Spirit of God within us. We can do this by staying true to the Lord in the reading, study, and meditation upon His Word; spending time with Him in prayer – walking with Him daily; faithful attendance to our local church as often as the door is open; and to faithfully serve the Lord by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves by giving of ourselves in serving others when possible, and sometimes when it gets in our way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Sign From Heaven

There are signs which give direction as we drive our cars.  There are signs which advertise a product, service, or a political candidate, etc.  I know that is not the type sign the Scriptures speak of, or that Jesus, and/or the religious leaders of His day were speaking of.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were testing Jesus, and they were blind to who Jesus was.  He whom the Scriptures spoke of was standing in their midst and they missed the greatest sign of all times.  Why should, or why would another be given them?

In the account of Matthew we read,

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” Matthew 16:1-4 (KJV)

It is so sad that the ones who were supposed to be guardians of the law of God, and were supposed be so familiar with it could have the Sign standing, ministering in their day, preaching the Word, healing the sick, making the lame to walk, casting out demons, raising the dead; and they missed it completely.  The ones who could discern the weather patterns, couldn’t discern “the signs of the times”.

What benefit is there in knowing weather patterns, or the weather for the day?  Does it serve any eternal purpose?  I can understand needing to know for those who spend their time working in the outdoors, but does it really make a difference in the way we live life?  Probably, but for these religious leaders, scholars, they had a responsibility to the people to discern the times, more than the weather.

No sign would be given them.  One sign, which I don’t think they really understood, Jesus said they would receive.  That sign would be the sign of the prophet Jonah.

The sign of the prophet Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the whale (Matthew 12:39-41), and in Luke 11 Jesus said,

“This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” Luke 11:29-30 (KJV)

Thus, Jesus was a sign to His generation, but many rejected Him, even after He was raised to life from the grave.

We today have a risen Lord and Savior who ever lives and is our intercessor before our Father.  We have the written, Holy Spirit inspired, God breathed Scriptures which confirm the truth and evidence of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, His power, wisdom, holiness, righteousness, glory, and worth.  He is worthy of our worship, our praise, and devotion.

Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God was crucified, buried, and raised bodily from the grave that He might be our eternal God and Savior.  That is all the sign I need.  Thank you Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Unclean Hands, Lips – From The Heart

We have in these verses further explanation of the “washing with unclean hands” issue which the scribes and Pharisees had attacked Jesus and His disciples. It seems that the men were thoroughly offended by Jesus’s remarks, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man”, and His disciples noticed. Does anyone ever give thought to what might “offend” Jesus? Just a thought.

“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 thoughts, 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 15:12-20 (KJV)

Jesus is the Son of God, the Prophet of God foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18); and not a bit concerned about offending the disgusting arguments of manmade doctrines. He even goes on and tells His disciples that “Every plant not planted by My Father will be uprooted”. He is probably speaking of these foolish doctrines, and He could be speaking of the Pharisees themselves, or maybe both. Doctrines that are false will one day be revealed as being false. The doctrines of men are usually false doctrines which bind men, rather than setting them free, as the doctrines of God do.

This part of the verse which speaks of the “blind leading the blind” somewhat reminds me of the Financial chaos of our nation [USA] and that of the world. One bankrupt nation, asking loan from other nations who are nearing bankruptcy, sounds as though the blind are leading the blind, at least to me. Enough of that. The doctrines of men will fall, and those who follow the doctrines of men; unless they are drawn by the Spirit of God to Jesus; will also fall into the ditch, because; in essence they are blind.

Jeremiah the prophet said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” 17:9 (KJV). We often think that we know what is in our “heart”, and then when we get too assured about it something will happen, and bring us down from our perch. Understand, that when we speak of the “heart” here we are not talking about that blood pump in our chest. The “heart” could also be rendered as our “Innermost being”. It is the seat of our being, our soul and our spirit. It is that within us that is eternal, and that will never die. God/Jesus Christ is the only one who can know our hearts.

Some of the men and women who are in prison for murder, negligent homocide, manslaughter, and some other things, never thought they would be there. They had better plans than spend a good portion of their lives in prison. They were full of themselves, and not God. When you get to thinking, “I know what’s in my heart” you may find yourself in trouble. The only way to know your heart is to know the One who knows your heart, and that is Jesus Christ. Look what Jesus says comes from our hearts – “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…”; these He says, “Defile the man”, and “man” here is generic for all of us; male and female.

We can so easily become carried away by teachings of men which empower us over others, and that is what the Pharisees were trying to do with Jesus. By showing themselves more knowledgeable than Him; by showing themselves more holy than Jesus they thought to prove Him a blasphemer. Since Jesus was who He claims to be, then their words were empty and powerless. They were the words of men and not of God. They were defiled in their hearts, and thus could only give “lip service” to God.

 

How is your heart today?

 

-Tim A. Blankenship

Travelling Religion – Ritual Washing

In the Old Testament Law the only washing which I can recall is for the priesthood as they conduct the duties of the tabernacle in the wilderness, at the brazen laver (Exodus 30:17-21). It was for the washing of the feet and hands of Aaron and his sons in going about their daily duties of the tabernacle. Somehow a tradition came to be for every Jew to wash their hands before they ate. So it seems they were condemned if they did not.

Now I would be the first to admit in our day and time that is a good practice, but for health reasons, not religious reasons. To test another Jew because of not washing their hands was what these religious leaders were up to; in particular questioning the Lord Jesus and His disciples; measuring whether He could be the Christ determined by whether He washed His hands ceremonially or not before He ate meals.

Our verses say,

“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.” Matthew 15:1-2 (KJV).

We are not told how many of the scribes and Pharisees came to question Jesus; just that they came. They had travelled from Jerusalem to Galilee on a mission of question. Jesus’s popularity was growing. They wanted to check Him out, as though they had not already done so a few times. Oh how miserably we fail when we try to win people to traditions which are not based on Scripture, conviction, and the saving or betterment of society.

There is no tradition which can save a soul from the condemnation of Hell, unless you want to call repentance, and faith a tradition.

These men come to Jesus actually making a charge against Him with their supposed question, “Why do thy disciples transgress…”. It is already in the accusatory form. They were not coming to Jesus to learn from Him, but rather, to accuse Him and His disciples of breaking tradition.

I have a thing about washing hands, especially after visiting the restroom. I was in a men’s restroom in a steak and buffet place a few years ago, when I grew passionate about this washing hands. There was another man who was just leaving the urinal and walked right out the door, right to the buffet line. When I got out there, and yes, after washing my hands; there he was; picking up the utensils for dipping out the food, and I had to touch it if I wanted what he did. I didn’t. I watched where he went, what he dipped and I steered clear. Some have said that the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible, but it is not. It sure is a good thought though.

It is a good practice to wash your hands, and regularly. You can help prevent colds, flu viruses, and conduct all around good hygiene by doing so. However, it is not the means of judging whether one is holy or not. These would judge Jesus, and reject Him because of their tradition, which really had no merit in the Law.

We are declared righteous and just by our Creator, through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins. It is God’s declaration, not our good behavior or good deeds which cleanse us.

-Tim A. Blankenship