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Surface Religion Vss Heart Religion Mt. 14:34 - 15:14

November 1, 2015 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 14:34–15:14

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Surface Religion vss Heart Religion

14:34 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; 36and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.

15:1Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2“Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4“For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’ 5“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

8‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.

9‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”

10After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11“It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

12Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

You'll recall that last week we covered one really wild day with the disciples and Jesus. A trip to get away from the multitude and have some solitude to pray and re-group that didn't turn out that way.

Jesus feeds the 5,000. Then He sends them away. Then He goes up on the mountain to pray for a several hours. Then He comes walking on the water at somewhere between 3 and 6AM. The disciples are fighting wind and waves in the boat alone and are terrified. Peter gets out of the boat and walks on water, but begins to sink when he doubts. Ultimately, they worship Him.

All these different reactions to Jesus. Like the 4 soils. There are hard pan soil people. There are shallow soil people. There are weed choked soil people. And there are fruit bearing soil people.

Perhaps we could say the Pharisees who are constantly in conflict are the hard pan soil.

The multitude who want to make him King so they can directly benefit by simply having an easier, better life now, are the weedy soil people.

The disciples who say, Truly, You are God's Son; are the fruit bearing soil.

And these folks who only want physical healing and nothing else, are the shallow soil people.

34When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; 36and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.

This is a repeat of earlier. Jesus is compassionate to folks in need at every level. I do not believe the faith of these is at the level of the 12 who worshipped Him in the boat.

They simply want physical healing. Just let us touch the fringe of your garment, and we'll be healed. And He does.

Jesus never says, First, repent of your sin and follow me, and after a vetting process, when I'm convinced you're a citizen of My kingdom, then I'll heal you.

Jesus is magnanimous. He simply gives them what they've asked for. Physical healing. But in this next section He's going to show us that we are more than physical. True religion is more than surface. More than physical reality. It goes much deeper.

What happens when you come to Jesus and want something physical. And He gives that to you. And you go home unchanged inside. You take what He gives you and that's great, and you go on about your life and don't think about Him again until the next time you need something physical that He can give.

I think we see that. A little girl has cancer and the family asks the church to pray, and we do. We pray for the Lord Jesus to be merciful and help that family, and the little girl gets well. And then that's the end of that, thank you very much.

Jesus is compassionate and I believe when we ask Him, He will sometimes answer those prayers for physical things. Wellness. A job. A desperate situation.

When I was just 16 and had just gotten my drivers license, I was zooming along too fast in my mom's new Volkswagen and it went out of control and smashed into a ditch. I broke my nose and it's crooked to this day.

And I had a vision of the future never driving again for doing such a foolish thing. I was agnostic. Like Albert Einstein. Of course there must be an intelligent being that made all of this, but He's un knowable.

I prayed, if you are there, and you can get me out of this mess, I'll believe in You. And the mess went away. No one was very mad. The car got fixed. The car insurance people didn't cancel us. The license didn't get taken away forever. To me it seemed strangely miraculous to the point that I was forced to take my prayer and it's answer seriously.

After that I was sympathetic to know more. I started going to youth group. I was open. 2 years later, at a youth camp, I received Christ.

A very physical answer to prayer softened me up to go further than just the physical. What I can get now.

10 lepers were healed. One came back to meet Jesus. 10 physical realities, one spiritual reality

Jesus is going to have that discussion with a group of Pharisees from Jerusalem. Their religion is physical plane only. They have no spiritual connection with God.

Now Jerusalem is about 85 miles south. It's the religious center of Israel. It's where the temple is, and also where the ruling class of Israel dwells. The Sanhedrin. The 70 elders. The high priest. All in Jerusalem.

And Jerusalem is in direct conflict with Jesus. They hate Him. They want Him dead. So they send some agitators from Jerusalem. See if you can trap Him in something that would benefit the anti-Jesus cause.

John, in John 6 gives us the relative time frame. It is passover. The 3rd in Jesus ministry. He will die on the 4rth a year later. So we're just at the point where there is one year of ministry left.

We're also at the point where things are heating up enough that Jesus will spend the final year farther away from Jerusalem than before.

This final year is almost secluded. He stays a distance from Jerusalem, and He centers on building up 12 disciples.

But here by the sea of Gennesaret, some pharisees from Jerusalem find Him and bring up an area of conflict. They want to talk about true religion and false religion. They will attempt to prove that they are the true Israel and He is a phony.

And obviously, their question is loaded. A trap to expose Jesus and His disciples. To show the onlooking world that Jesus and company are libertarians and antinomians. People who live outside the law.

15:1Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2“Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

Right here we have to stop and have a discussion about authority. Especially in our environment where we live.

In our culture, the idea that any religious tradition is right or wrong, or defines right and wrong, is almost taboo. America is almost completely secular. Right and wrong, and indeed almost any definition of morality is relative. Who says what's right? Who says what's wrong? Certainly not an old Book written by goat herders.

And we've gone so far down this road that almost nothing is wrong. Murder your babies. Sleep with who you want. Any gender that pleases you. Lie. Cheat. Steal. Just don't get caught. Chill out man. Don't be so uptight as to think there are rules. Go eat a marijuana caramel and get over it.

We are completely secular and in our secularism, completely antinomian. Without law.

And the reason for that is because we've declared this book which contains God's law, derelict. Of no consequence. No matter.

Without the authority of a God given set of moral laws, we're awash in relativism. Maybe it's wrong, but who says so. Certainly not God. Certainly not a book. Maybe it's wrong for you and right for me. There can't be any absolutes that say it's always wrong. There's no authority for that.

Our culture holds anyone who subscribes that a book of laws given by some old God in history past, as suspect. Someone to be watched. Someone who is guilty of extremism. Radical.

We on the other hand believe that this book is authoritative. That it is the Word of God and that it is binding on us.

In Jesus day, the Jews had swung the opposite direction from that as Secularism has to the other pole. We have jettisoned all rules, including the ones in God's book.

The jews had made up thousands of rules above and beyond God's book. These were called the traditions of the elders.

So what we have here is a group of legalists who are into keeping all of the traditions of the elders, and claiming that anyone who doesn't do that is sinful and hell bound. Basically.

In their fleshiness, they couldn't really keep God's law, so they made up thousands of man-made laws that they could keep and that became their religion. Legalistic self generated righteousness that had absolutely nothing to do with God.

Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders

They are concerned, and indeed indict the disciples, and of course by association, Jesus, for not participating in a bunch of ritual cleansings and washings and purifications that were added to the law. Never required by God. These were added in order to make a religion that is outward and showy.

We need to make the distinction. God's laws are binding. Mens traditions, are not.

Your disciples aren't doing the ceremonial washings that the traditions of the elders have put in place. Therefore they are unclean. Dirty. Wicked. Evil. Sinful. Antinomian. Lawless. Libetines.

The disciples are guilty of transgressing a manmade legalistic religion. They had not broken any of God's laws.

Jesus says, you're so into your man made laws, that you're breaking the real ones that God actually DID give. When the man made laws trump the laws God gave, that's a problem.

3And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4“For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’ 5“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

This will take a bit of explanation, so stay with me for a minute.

The Hebrew culture at that time had a tradition called Corban. The greek word Korban meant a money vow. A temple vow of money. And once vowed, the money was considered on hold. Restricted for the temple.

This made the pharisees look and feel very religious, except from God's standpoint, they were in effect with their traditions, tieing up money that should have been used in support of their own parents.

So in direct violation of the Law of God to Honor your father and your mother, they would declare the money that could have been used for that purpose as Korban, or vowed, and thus it could only be used for God's work.

Their tradition had therefore trumped the Law of God.

Jesus is accusing them of holding the traditions of men in more authority over them, than the very law of God.

That's why I began with the idea of authority of God in His law over men. This book has that authority over me. Men's traditions do not.

So the pharisees come trying to convict the disciples and by association Jesus himself as law breakers for not keeping the traditions of men, and Jesus turns the table on them and shows them that they were actually breaking God's law because of their phony "traditions" of men.

In mens eyes, the disciples are unclean. In God's eyes they are clean. In mens eyes the pharisees are clean clean clean. In God's eyes, they are filthy rags. Like a filthy toilet garment. Vile.

Then Jesus quotes the word of God Himself through His prophet Isaiah.
7“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

8‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.

9‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”

And here is the dividing line. Heart worship. Lip worship.

These pharisees give lip service. But their hearts are a million miles away. They don't love God. They love themselves. They love how much God is in debt to them for how religious they are.

They have it backwards. They think God owes them something for all of their phony baloney tradition keeping. Meanwhile their hearts are stone cold. Not only to God, but to everyone else around them that is less "righteous" than they are.

IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN

All of their religiosity is vanity. Vain. No value. Nothing. In fact it has added to their deficit.

And the reason. They have replaced the simple law of God with the mountains of precepts of men. And they then teach the precepts of men, as doctrine.

Jesus has 2 words for these folks. You hypocrites.

Notice, Jesus doesn't call these guys into a closed meeting and huddle quietly and whisper, "listen fellas, we need to make a slight correction".

No, He blasts them, and then He calls the multitude to listen;

10After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11“It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.

This is a spiritual truth. Physical things entering the body don't impact spiritual condition. This is the doctrine of total depravity. We are fallen. We are born in sin. And nothing we do is acceptable to God. Indwelling sin defiles the man.

The mouth is the port that spews what's really inside of us out. We are all guilty. We are all defiled. Every fallen one of us, without the Holy Spirit just bubbles up sin that's inside of us. That's the human condition. That's what the blood of Jesus was spilled to save us from.

If we understand that truth and cry out for mercy, we're way ahead of these pharisees who thought themselves quite righteous because of all of their ritual washings and everything else they were doing in their sinful flesh.

12Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?

Two weeks ago, we talked about the offense of the Gospel. On the web site, that was my title. The offense of the Gospel. The people at Nazareth, the homies who grew up in the same town as Jesus were offended by Him.

Herod was offended by the truth that God's laws would prohibit him co-habitating with his brothers life. The people of Nazareth had already tried to kill Jesus once. Herod did kill John. Over the offense of a book.

I woke up one morning and found myself in a position of some responsibility concerning this issue. I can make people angry by what I say up here. I can offend folks.

Now, I have to be sort of careful. If I offend you because we dis-agree on the super bowl, or I tell a car joke and your favorite brand is the butt of my joke and you're offended, that's not good.

I used to take pot shots politically from the pulpit. I had to stop doing that. I can't offend people over things that have no basis in this book. But, if I'm teaching and preaching faithfully the truths in this book, and you find those truths offensive; Sorry, the book trumps your feelings.

That's what happened here. Jesus made these pharisees smoking hot mad. And the disciples are like, Hey, Jesus, these guys are from Jerusalem, and you just ran over their toes with a steam roller. Are you sure that's a good idea. Jerusalem is where the power brokers are. Remember what happened when John got smart with people who have power.

I don't think I'm reading motives into this that weren't there. Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement? I think there's a cautionary element.

This is just as real as the guys at Charlie Hebdo who drew the Mohammed cartoons. Offend the wrong people, wake up dead. These pharisees are no different. They're chomping at the bit to get at Jesus. They have to wait for the right time, but murder is in their hearts. And it stems from the offense of the Word of God.

13But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.

The offense and the accompanying danger is at another level. This isn't mano a mano. This is a clash between the Authority to reign of God, and the authority to reign of Satan.

2 kingdoms at war with each other over who will ultimately rule on this planet. This earth.

These pharisees think they're fighting on God's side, but Jesus says, Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted

The offense is real, and the resulting death of Jesus because of the offense is real, but God is in control of it all. These plants do not belong to the heavenly Father, and ultimately, He will uproot them and cast them into the furnace.

Remember the parable about the wheat and the tares? God plants the wheat. Satan plants the tares. These pharisees are tares. They'll be pulled up and cast into the burning furnace. Some day. But right now, they are offended by those who belong to God, and they go about teaching doctrines that are offensive to God. Precepts of men. Traditions of men.

14“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.

Let them alone. Those words are profound. We are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. There is great wisdom here, and also a tightrope to walk on. Let them alone.

There is real danger in offending people. A year later, when it was the right time, Jesus will go to Jerusalem and walk right into the temple grounds and offend these folks every day. And after about 4 days they'll kill Him.

I don't always think christians are very wise when it comes to this. It's like things are changing and the christians are like little kids going na na na na na. What ya gonna do about it.

Sort of like the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Israel. na na na na na. And then Isreal finally has had enough and sends about 4 phantom jets and levels their neighborhood.

Offending people is real. It's dangerous. Sometimes it's necessary. But we need to be like Daniel. He lived in a culture where he could have offended the Babylonians every day. But instead he was wise. He had to pick a couple of hills he was willing to die on. They pushed him to that line. And God delivered him. But other than that final line of demarcation, prayer and worship of the Holy God, he honored the Babylonians. To such an extent that they trusted him to rule over their property. He had their best interest at heart.

Let them alone. This is wisdom. Let sleeping dogs lie. Pick your fights wisely. Let these tares that Satan has planted, that can do real harm, let them alone, until push comes to shove and you can't let them alone. We should all pray for that wisdom in future days.

A time will come, soon enough, when they order us to stop believing our old book, to stop worshipping God, and then we won't be able to "let them alone" any longer. They we'll have to engage. But for now, stop lobbing rockets at them. Stop poking the sleeping dog with a stick.

Jesus tells his disciples to be wise. Some times you have to offend. When the battle comes looking for you, like the men from Jerusalem came looking for Jesus. Then you'll have to offend.

But we'll see that Jesus spends the next year farther out than before. One more year. He's going to let them alone. Then, in God's time, He's going to engage. And the offense will cause his murder.

And finally, a proverb; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit

This is Satan's world. This is a picture of people without revealed truth. They think they have all the answers.

Go onto a plaza in Los Angeles with a thousand people and talk to each one and you'll find out that all thousand of them know all the secrets of the universe and have the answers to life and in fact would love to teach you what they know.

Such is the deception of the Kingdom of Satan. they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit

And if you tell them they are blind, they'll get really angry with you. But we are mandated to do that. With wisdom. Sometimes you walk away. Sometimes the Father will lead you to the one in that thousand that is ready to hear and believe the truth. Sometimes there is opportunity to plow the ground or water the seed and someone else will harvest later. Be wise.

Peter, who was there that day, has a word for us. 1Pet. 2:17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Offending people is dangerous. We are to be wise. Sometimes it's necessary. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes we leave them alone. Pray for that wisdom. When that day comes, don't back down.