In Jesus’ Words: Leave them alone (Matthew 15:10-20)

no-sign

We’ve become anti-everything.  It’s the new solution.  Have a problem?… all you need to do is be against something, and you’ll feel better.  But just like the old saying goes, “fight bad with good”, we need to be FOR something.  It’s the only way this life is going to work.  So in my journey of reading through Jesus’ words in the New Testament, I have come to that one statement that has many people fighting over its words today.  It even says the Pharisees took offense over it too, so it is not new to our generation.

Here is the entire reference in question and then I’ll give my conclusion of what Jesus is really saying.

~ Matthew 15:10-20  Defilement is from within ~

Summoning the crowd, Jesus told them, “Listen and understand: It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

Then the disciples came up and told Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this statement?”

He replied, “Every plant that My heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. Leave them alone! They are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Then Peter replied to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”

“Are even you still lacking in understanding?” He asked. “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

There is not a single person that passes this test.  It’s interesting that Jesus mentions “evil thoughts” first in his list.  This is probably the number one problem in our world.

Murders, adulteries, and thefts are self-explanatory, but what are sexual immoralities? Adulteries have already been explicitly called out.  I have not dug into the original meaning of the phrase to determine if Jesus was specifically talking about homosexuality.  Either way, we can all agree that sexual immorality includes many things that are problems today – pornography, promiscuity, sexual addiction, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, and just about all of Las Vegas…  By allowing these immoralities into our lives and homes, we have done more damage to marriage and the family than homosexuality by itself will ever do.

So what does Jesus say?  Jesus was known for answering a question with another question, or replying with a more personal statement directed at the heart.  In this case, I believe Jesus would say to each of us: Go clean up your own house and then come back to me with your complaints about others.  I do not think Jesus would be marching in a gay pride parade if He was here today, but I do think His answer would be just what He said in this passage: “Leave them alone!”

This old hymn says it well, to all of us.

Come, Ye Sinners

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

In Jesus’ Words: Dining with sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 9:2-13)

forgiveness

No one else has ever claimed they can forgive sins except Jesus. The concept was incomprehensible at the time. Why did Jesus say this? Not once or twice, but all the time. Jesus’ response to this question was just as unconventional. He asks those that questioned him, Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?  Then even more puzzling, Jesus picks out a tax collector in the crowd and goes to his house to eat with him and other sinners. Tax collectors were so hated at the time that they were called out separately from all the other sinners. They were a special class of sinners. Can you imagine how Matthew the Tax Collector must have felt when Jesus picked him? Elated! He was the kid nobody liked, never got picked for the team, or the bully everyone hated.

The sinners associated with Jesus were probably some of the worst people of that time – thieves, con artists, prostitutes, rapists, the undesirables of society. People could not believe Jesus would associate with them, let alone eat with them! Today this would be equivalent to drug addicts, alcoholics, sex abusers, AIDS patients, the homeless. So while we are trying to be good and do all the right things, or busy taking stands against this sin or that one, hiding our own sin (if we are truly honest), Jesus is over there eating dinner with some of these same people!

~ Matthew 9:2-13  Dining with Sinners and Tax Collectors ~

 Just then some men brought to Him a paralytic lying on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”   At this, some of the scribes said among themselves, “He’s blaspheming!”  But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts?  For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?   But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He told the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”  And he got up and went home. 

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him. While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Mercy not sacrifice says it all. This is how we should live our lives. When Jesus says that he did not come to call the righteous, he is referring to those who pretend to be righteous and therefore are not willing to repent. We must first admit we are sinners before we can repent and accept a Savior. Repentance is not considered a negative thing but a very positive thing!feet with waves cropped