Friday, October 21
Matthew 15:1-20 MSG
After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?”
But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, “What I owed to you I’ve given to God.”’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they’re worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”
Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”
Jesus shrugged it off. “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”
Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
Jesus replied, “You too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands— that’s neither here nor there.”
You must go beyond the old or fail to get into the new. Your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisee and the scribe, which was a legal righteousness. Yours must be a love righteousness; your righteousness must exceed that of the Hindu ascetic, for he strives for personal deliverance and you must strive for the kingdom of heaven on earth; your righteousness must exceed that of the Buddhist, for at the heart of his righteousness is a bitter disillusionment and at the heart of yours must be an Easter morning; your righteousness must exceed that of the Muslim, for his righteousness is a slave righteousness and yours must be that of a free man; your righteousness must exceed that of the Confucianist, for he strives to be a superior man and you must strive to be the servant of all; your righteousness must exceed that of the delicately calculating moralist, for yours is a righteousness that does not calculate—it is that of the second mile and of the other cheek; your righteousness must exceed that of the half-Christian who is content with the mind of Moses instead of going on to the mind of the Master.
E. Stanley Jones, The Christ of the Mount.