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Apr 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty – Matthew 15:1-9

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread? Matthew 15:1-2

One of the most difficult obstacles to education is a student’s prejudice. The nature of prejudice is such that it is hidden from those who hold it. They do not realize their prejudice is merely a point of view, but take it to be reality. So to be  educated contrary to their prejudice, they must permit their reality to be broken down so it can be rebuilt in a form that is closer to the truth.

Tradition in the time and culture of Jesus was a social force that controlled the behavior of most people. How simple life is if all the difficult questions have already been answered by “the elders” before our time! Innovations or deviations from the old paths can be rejected out of hand. People do not have to think for themselves, make the hard decisions, or walk in faith. All they need to do is follow rules laid down by others.

There are human traditions that some people assume reflect God’s will but actually run contrary to his word and commandment. Jesus provided a clear example of the way Pharisees and scribes invalidated the word of God for the sake of their tradition (vv. 3-6). By bringing this issue to the surface, Jesus created a tension between accepted religious traditions and the authentic worship of God.

Whenever Jesus spoke with these ultra-religious types, he came up against a huge wall and fierce opposition. But when we read of these encounters, two facts tend to escape our attention: First, for the most part these were decent and godly people. Secondly, even though we may assume we are far more teachable than they, we also put up walls and opposition to some of the things the Lord is trying to teach us.

O Jesus, our Teacher, what prejudice is preventing us from seeing Your truth? What tradition are we clinging to as if it were Your very word? What illusion do we take for reality that must be broken down so our worship will not be in vain and when we draw near to You with our lips, our hearts will be near to You too? And how can we assist others who are blindly following blind guides? We trust You, Lord Jesus, to open our eyes and show us Your ways. 

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