God Knows The Heart

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So, the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” their teachings are merely human rules.” You have not let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”                                                      Mark 7:5-8

As we read in the book of Mark, Jesus’ opponents which was the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem questioned Jesus about why he and his disciples were not living according to the tradition of the elders. Trying to embarrass him and undermine his authority. When with the crowd he had been teaching, they questioned Jesus about eating with ritually of the elders would never do which is to eat with unclean hands.

The tradition of the elders was an oral interpretation of Israel’s ancestral custom. The Pharisees considered this tradition legally binding all Jews, even through not all followed it. Mark’s gospel of the explanation of the purification ritual demonstrate he is not sympathetic towards the tradition.

Jesus first responded to his opponents by quoting from the Prophets and the Law, sources important than the tradition of the elders. He said his adversaries were people who honored God with the lips but not with their hearts. They taught human laws as divine doctrine which can also be found in Isaiah 29:13 which states “These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”  Finally, Jesus responded directly to their question about the purification regulation. However, he addressed the crowd, not his opponents, thus resuming his position as a teacher with authority. He told the crown that nothing went into a person could defile them. Rather it was the things that comes out of a person’s mouth that defiles them. In other words, things that a person puts into their mouths such as food could not defile them, it is what comes out of a person’s mouth, which truly comes from the heart  Jesus’ new teaching about inner purity calls us to reexamine our tendency to engage in long-held traditions and rituals rather than the transformation of our hearts. It also challenges our tendency to hold on to human traditions as if they were divinely commanded. Finally, it calls us to reexamine the exclusive stance of our faith communities. This last challenge may be the hardest call of all, if our faith is predicated on a versus then understanding. Just as traditions and purity regulations helped preserve ancient Israel’s religious and ethnic identity and faith is a hostile world, so traditions and purity rules help preserve traditional biblical Christian identity. Are we like the crowds following Jesus or are  we like Mark’s first readers, are confronting Jesus. Do we hang on to traditions and rituals remaining exclusive in our thinking in order to protect our traditional faith and identity? Or do we let God open our hearts-even if such action subjects our faith and identify to change?

We need to remember what Jesus tells us as well as his disciple, God is not interested at our human traditions, which is that we come to church on Sunday mornings and sit in the pew, we then feel that we did our Christian duties until next week. We are called Christians because we are followers (disciples) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we should live our lives according to the teaching of Christ. More important is what God told Samuel in the book of 1 Samuel 16:7 God does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Eileen

 

 

 

 

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Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

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Jesus is preparing his disciples for when is to die and leave them behind, read his words from the Gospel of John 14:23-27  “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 

When we die, we leave everything we own behind. But we also leave behind memories, traditions, experiences and relationships. Sometimes there are small gifts, treasures and photos.

Jesus had no possessions to leave behind. But he had other things that would never spoil and were more precious than anything else. One of them was peace. When conflict was rife outside the Upper Room; while violence was being planned; when death was knocking at the door, Jesus gave them peace.

This was the peace created by complete trust in the presence of God. It was absolute faith in His omnipotence and the acceptance of His holy will. It was also Christ’s own peace. By this gift of peace, He gave them something of himself. He knew they would be confronted with danger, opposition, suffering and even death. They would need peace more than anything else.

Open up your heart now to receive Jesus’ gift. Like the disciples, you probably need them more than anything else. If you are grappling with problems, confusion, opposition, resistance, ridicule, temptation, loneliness, pain or suffering, cling with all your might to this gift that Jesus gave his disciples. Allow his peace to calm your anger. Allow his peace to take over prejudices, your doubts and your grievances. Let it take over your entire attitude, your speech and your relationships. And whenever possible, give this peace away to someone else. The more of it you give away, the more it grows inside of you.

Grace and Peace To You My Friends