August 9, 2016
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
You will remember yesterday we left off with Jesus being challenged by the Pharisees concerning “the rules.” His disciples were not washing their hands before they ate in keeping with the tradition. Jesus approach, after the initial lawyerly smack down he put on them with the, “Honor your parents” argument, was to flip their whole broken approach to the law on its head.
We do not begin with the rules and sin (I mean behavior) management. We begin with the Ruler who will lead us to the bigger governing Rule by which we will then properly understand the rules. This is not about managing external behaviors but becoming a different kind of person altogether. Said another way, the issue is not a fruit problem but a root problem. Becoming a person remade in the image of Jesus is an inside job. Here’s the big Rule:
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
We will get to more of that tomorrow, but before leaving today’s text I don’t want us to miss something very important in today’s reading. Here it is:
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
One of the subtle traps of legalism is what I call reverse judgment. In a legalistic system (one focused on the letter of the law) those living under its oppression will often become quite judgmental about the so-called “rule keepers.” Reverse judgment happens when you begin to judge the one who is judging you. One can feel quite justified and even righteous in making such judgments until one realizes its exactly the same thing.
It’s why Jesus says, in effect, leave the judgment to the Chief Justice. Judging those who judge you only opens the door for the planting of a bitter root of judgment in your own heart. So what’s a person to do? Jesus sums it up in two words: Leave them.
It’s next to impossible to work with someone who already knows it all. When a blind person thinks they can see clearly what can be done? Leave them. These are dangerous people. They are blind leaders leading blind followers. It’s why religious fundamentalism is such a hard nut to crack. It is impervious to intervention. Leave them.
Many people out there left legalistic communities long ago yet they never managed to leave their judges. They continue to be tormented by the shameful voices of their once admired and trusted leaders. It is beyond your power to change them and continuing to hold onto judgment only holds you back. It is time to release any remnant of unforgiveness, renounce the judgment that has rooted bitterness in your heart and wash your hands of them once and for all. Leave them.
Lord Jesus, search me out and reveal the reverse judgments in my heart; those ways I have retaliated by judging those who have judged me. By the strength of your Holy Spirit, help me to bring those bitter judgments to your Cross that I might finally leave them behind. For the glory of your name, Amen.
1. Do you see how Jesus turns an outside-in approach to righteousness into an inside-out approach? Do you see the application of the rules-rule-ruler way of thinking?
2. Have you ever known of or experienced oppressive and even abusive religious leaders (i.e. blind guides)? Have you left them? Have the fruits of their leadership remained with you despite your leaving them?
3. Are you ready to leave them once and for all? Is a need for some kind of reckoning or justice keeping you from leaving them behind? Do you need help in doing this?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.