Week 69 | Section 77

Something is still awryIt was the custom of the Jewish religious leaders to ceremonially cleanse themselves, and wash away all forms of dust from the Gentiles whom they considered religiously and socially “unclean”. Rather than judging  his disciples and Jesus himself “to the side of merit” they “sought to kill him”.  Jesus was not buffeted and didn’t budge or obscure the heart of the matter.

Many sense that there’s something awry, and unclean in their conscience. Troubled as Lady MacBeth crying, “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!”. It affects even the best of us, even some believers. Grace must indeed penetrate the soul, and for this reason we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.1


Scripture:

Matthew 15:1-3a,7-9,3b-6,10-20
1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem,2 saying,

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat bread.”3 3a He answered them, 7 You hypocrites!4Well did Isaiah5 prophesy of you, saying, ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.6

 

3b And “Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever may tell his father or his mother, “Whatever help you might otherwise have gotten from me is a gift devoted to God,” 6 he shall not honor his father or mother.’ You have made the commandment of God void because of your tradition.7¯8

 

10 He summoned the multitude, and said to them, “Hear, and understand. 11 That which enters into the mouth doesn’t defile the man; but that which proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

 

12 Then the disciples came, and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying?” 13 But he answered, “Every plant which my heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. 14 Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 Peter answered him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 So Jesus said, “Do you also still not understand? 17 Don’t you understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the belly, and then out of the body? 18 But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man.

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies.9   20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands doesn’t defile the man.”10

Mark 7:1-23
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together to him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of his disciples eating bread with defiled, that is unwashed, hands, they found fault. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews don’t eat unless they wash their hands and forearms, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to: washing of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.)11  5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?”12 6 He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 But they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’13 8 “For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” 9 He said to them, “Full well14  do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’15 and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’16 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban, that is to say, given to God”,’17 12 then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down.18 You do many things like this.”19  14 He called all the multitude to himself, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.20 15 There is nothing from outside of the man, that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man.21 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

 

 

 

17 When he had entered into a house away from the multitude, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Are you also without understanding?22  Don’t you perceive that whatever goes into the man from outside can’t defile him, 19 because it doesn’t go into his heart, but into his stomach, then into the latrine, thus purifying all foods?”23 20 He said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil24 thoughts, adulteries,25 sexual sins,26 murders, thefts, 22 covetings, wickedness,27 deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”28

John 7:1
1 After these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee, for he wouldn’t walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him.

Group Dialog: 

  1. How do you respond (inwardly and outwardly) to others who judge you , your motives, and actions?
  2. What does the Scripture say about pursuing righteousness, loving God and our responsibility to our brothers, neighbors, and even enemies?
  3. What world views and traditions do you hold on to that are at odds with the Scripture, undermine your relationship with God, or your capacity to be whom God desires you to be?
  4. What is the nature, use, and value of the old and new covenants to you?
  5. It can be tempting for church members to look to canon and law when faced with conflict and injury. What would a kingdom response look like instead?

Learning Objectives:

the nature of sin, godly intentions, grace, obedience, sanctification, do not judge others, legalism, hypocrisy, godly priorities.


Photo: Leaf stains on concrete, photo by Annaliese Troxell
MediaI Desire Jesus, Hillsong Live 2012


Study Notes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
  2. They came from Jerusalem to the region of Decopolis, a distance of 60-70 miles, probably with the intent to find something the could hold against him. See Harmony Bible Map
  3. Reading Matthew 7:3-5 and Romans 14, it is inappropriate for one person to judge or look down on another for their actions and convictions which are different than one’s own. What other NT passages then come to mind if you think it right to cast judgement in the name of truth and godliness?
  4. Our title for today’s lesson is based on the central theme of this reading. It could be debated as to whether their hypocrisy was awry or amiss. As adjectives AMISS is equivalent to wrong, faulty, out of order, or improper; while AWRY is turned or twisted toward one side, crooked, distorted, out of place. Choose either word and you get the point. The new covenant has different expectations because Christ has satisfied the law.
  5. Isaiah 29:13
  6. In light of today’s rearrangement of Matthew’s Gospel (for the purpose of mathcing it with Mark’s account) it might interest the Bible reader that “Chapter and Verse” was originally conceived by Stephen Langton in 1227, then printed by Robert Stephanus 1551 for the sake on convenience, reference, and common study. One might recall that this was the time of the reformation, and the invention of the printing press, when the Bible and certain letters and books of the Bible had begun to circulate among the common people (beyond the priests). It was therefore very helpful when circles met to be able to refer to chapter and verse. We’ll take this moment also to point you to the tool in this site call, “Chapter and Verse” helping you find passages from throughout the Harmony of the Gospels.
  7. Read Jesus words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23-25
  8. We read in Colossians 2:8 a warning against philosophy and traditions which undermine our faith. What world views and traditions do you hold on to that are at odds with the Scripture, undermine your relationship with God, or your capacity to be whom God desires you to be?
  9. This is by no means an exhaustive list of sins. The parallel passage here in Mark lists more, but then Galatians lists more still, and if that weren’t enough, in Matthew 5 (Section 54e) Jesus says when a person thinks evil, they sin. the point here is that we have all sinned and are in need of God’s grace. No need to count one sin as greater than another or point out the sin in another person’s life when you have your own of which you must repent. The goal here is reconciliation – to God and to those we have injured.
  10. The Talmud (Bavli Yoma 9b) teaches why the First Temple was destroyed: on account of three things: idolatry, immorality, bloodshed.
  11. CR: Luke 11:38-39; Isaiah 1:16; Jeremiah 4:14; Hebrews 9-10; James 4:8.
  12. The new covenant changes our relationship with God, now reconciled by the grace of God we obey to honor God, and cherish the relationship secured for us by Christ. See Galatians 2:21; Romans 3:31
  13. CR: Isaiah 29:13. See Also Titus 1:16, 3:9; 2 Timothy 3:5
  14. The Greek word is καλῶς (kalōs): – well (usually morally) well (G2573). The Amplified Bible writes it this way, “He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)!” and The Message paraphrases this verse as: “Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions!” The Arabic version reads more like an interrogation, “is it fit that you should omit the commandments of God, and keep your own statutes?” and the Ethiopic is more socratic, “do ye rightly make void the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own commandment?”
  15. CR: Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16
  16. CR: Leviticus 20:9; Exodus 21:17; Deuteronomy 27:16, Proverbs 20:20, 30:17; 1 Timothy 5:4-8.
  17. Honoring one’s parents was not mere lip service or just respect; it included the idea of caring for them in their old age. However, religious leaders some time past concocted a scheme to avoid parental responsibility – allowing them to designate their financial resources as corban – for temple service and godly purposes (δῶρον (dōron): gift, offering gift, strongs G1435). Then in respect of their vow and Number 30:2 they would not turn from it and care for their parents. However, a shrewd man could preserve a portion of their resources for that which might please them rather than aid their parentsLand designated as such could later be redeemed before the year of jubilee (Lev. 27:16-24), thus the gift became a “trust” of sorts, an investment scheme rather than an offering.
  18. Gill references Pirkei Avot (chapter one) to explain this tradition and teaching in “the Ethics of the Fathers” paraphrasing it so: “Moses received the law (the oral law) at Sinai, (hromw) , “and delivered” it to Joshua; and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets; and the prophets to the men of the great synagogue; the last of which was Simeon the just; and Antigonus, a man of Socho, received it from him; and Jose ben Joezer, a man of Tzeredah, and Jose ben Jochanan, a man of Jerusalem, received it from Antigonus; and Joshua ben Perachiah, and Nitthai the Arbelite, received it from them; and Judah ben Tabai, and Simeon ben Shetach, received it from them; and Shemaiah and Abtalion received it from them; and from them Hillell and Shammai.” The same basic instruction also urges, “Assume for yourself a master, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit.” Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers,1:6, which is very close to Matthew 7:1 and another offense of the pharisees in this very instance.
  19. CR: Jeremiah 8:8-9
  20. This is a common invitation to learn. CR: Isaiah 6:9
  21. Seemingly contrary to Leviticus 11:42-47 Jesus introduces a teaching we see the apostles and disciples accept and teach, see: Titus 1:15; Acts 10:28, 11:8-10; Romans 14:1-12; Colossians 2:8-23
  22. It was probably as sharp as it sounds. CR: John 3:10; Matthew 16:11; 1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:11
  23. CR: Colossians 2:8-23
  24. The Greek word for evil is κακός (kakos): evil, wicked, wrong, bad, a perversion of what pertains to goodness; as a noun, an evil thing can refer to any crime, harm, or moral wrong evil/harm (G2556). CR: James 4:1, 14-15; Galatians 5:19-25; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 8:7-8; Titus 3:3. Its important here to realize that while Jesus has confronted the hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees, he has not condemned them, rather he reorients the traditional understanding of the law, and explains that the origin of sinful behavior comes from within oneself. We know now that there is a remedy for this ill, in Jesus, by grace through faith, we are justified and are being sanctified. Like his response to the Pharisees and his disciples, He direct us to sanctification and regeneration, not shame, punishment or death.
  25.  While we agree that adultery is sinful, wrong, and hurtful we need to understand that the Jews interpretation of the 7th commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) was very different than the current Church position. Adultery was the sin of “trespassing against” or “stealing of” a man’s spousal property, by having sex with his wife(s). However, in the plenitude of their exponential laws (248 positive and 365 negative) they condoned and supported the practices of  levirate marriage and concubines. They honored Solomon who had 700 Wives and another 300 Concubines (1Kings 11:3-4). It was not this practice that displeased God but that he turned to other Gods under the influence of his wives. King David had 7 wives and 17 concubines and they were considered a sign of God’s blessing. Gen 2:23 uses the Hebrew word “issa” which means “woman” (not wife) as the governmental practice of marriage.
  26. CR: 1 Corinthians 6:13
  27. The word means ill-natured, cruelty, inhumanity, and all malevolent affections
  28. If personal pleasure in the fulfillment of one’s desires is considered the highest personal ideal, and our actions involve others, then they are of collective concern. Most Rotarian’s know the four-way test: “Of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the TRUTH? 2. Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?” In this way an individuals actions (sin and service) can be seen to impact the community, its security, survival, and well-being.