August 9

Text: Matthew 23:25, 26

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.”  (NASB)

The picture Jesus presented was not (and is not) appealing .  Can you imagine being invited for a meal, arriving as guests, seeing the table prepared with your friend’s best dishes, and—as you sit down—noting every dish has been carefully washed on the outside, but the inside of the dishes have not been washed in several meals?  Simply because the outside was clean, would you regard the dishes clean?

Most Jewish people believed in and practiced ceremonial purity.  They were taught that if they kept the right rituals on the right days in the approved manner, they were pure.  Being pure focused on what you ritually did, not on what you were as a person.

Jesus stressed internal purity.  If one understood what he was doing, had the correct internal motives, and behaved as a person who loved God, then what he did praised God.  What you were as a person determined the acceptability of commanded ritual acts.  Purity began inwardly!

This teaching was not original with Jesus.  Centuries before, the prophets stressed this understanding (see Isaiah 1:10-17 and Jeremiah 7:1-11).  This was not a rejection of commanded ritual acts, but a stress on the fact that who you were inwardly made your ritual acts meaningful to God.  What one is inwardly gives meaning spiritually to acts.  Religious acceptability is not the performance of “spiritual magic acts.”

 Purity comes from the inside to the outside.  Inner motives and outward obedience are equally important.  Work from the inside to the outside.  Be what you do!  Let your acts reflect your faith!

Suggestion for reflection: How does a spiritual person avoid “just going through the motions?”  (Read Hebrews 9:11-15.)



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