21 May 2010
Jesus tells His disciples to beware of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees - that is, of their teaching. Back in Mt 13:33 Jesus showed that a little leaven, hidden in a large amount of flour, works through that flour (almost invisibly) until the whole amount of flour is leavened (and thus changed, transformed). Just as a very small amount of true teaching - the teaching of the Kingdom of heaven - can can a very large, wonderful, life-giving, life-transforming effect ... so can a very small amount of false teaching have a very large, dangerous, destructive, death-bringing effect.
So CAUTION! Father I do not want to spread false leaven - but only the leaven of Your kingdom. Open my eyes, ears, heart, Lord, to YOUR TRUTH! Please do not let me be taken in by the teachings of men!
Jesus talked a lot about this in Mt 15:1-20 as well.
Jesus' disciples BROKE/TRANSGRESSED/INVALIDATED the traditions of the elders (handwashing before eating) BECAUSE food from unwashed hands does not defile a man (spiritually), but rather what defiles is the evil that comes from man's heart. THEREFORE, VALUE matters of the heart/spirit: what God values!
The Pharisees BROKE/TRANSGRESSED/INVALIDATED the commandments/word of God (honoring parents) BECAUSE they wanted to maintain their traditions. THEREFORE, THEY VALUED the traditions/ precepts of man more than the heart of God! AND YET, THEY CONSIDERED THEMSELVES ULTRA-RIGHTEOUS AND BELIEVED THAT THEY WERE HONORING GOD AND THAT HE WAS PLEASED WITH THEM.
Verses 8 and 9 in Matthew 15 quote Isaiah's prophecy: "This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." And Jesus warned (v 13), "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted." He called these religious leaders "blind leading blind" - and both falling into a pit!
Back to Mt 17, verse 16 "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This truth was revealed to Peter by Father God - And it flew in the face of all the expectations and preconceptions of the elders, chief priests, scribes!
In verse 23 we see that Jesus would not accept any "truth" unless it was God's truth. He was committed to God's interests alone - not the interests of man, even when those human interests could "save him" from the terrible persecution and death by crucifixion which he knew was coming.
This makes me ask: What are my motivations? Why do I accept certain "truths" and reject others? Am I really committed to what God wants? Or do I have my own agendas? Am I possibly being influenced by the agendas of others (including others who seem to be righteous leaders? Peter was a committed Jewish man who had always followed the "rules" - and yet when He encountered Jesus, and God revealed His truth to Peter, Peter ended up rejecting the "truths" of the "elders" which he had always accepted and believed in and followed. Have I, am I, following "doctrines of man"? Am I sure about the purity of my motives? Am I certain that what I have been "taught" is really from God?
Father, I want to follow YOU, alone! I want only YOUR way. I want only THE TRUTH.
No matter what it means to my "life" here and now.
I recognize that Your way is not the world's way. I recognize that while I live in this world, following Your way will fly in the face of the world's way - even when, maybe especially when, that way has been absorbed and accepted and acted upon by those who are in positions of "religious leadership," and by the organizations and institutions that claim to (even really believe they do) represent You.
As a follower of Jesus, I am called to (v25) deny self, take up my cross, follow Jesus.
I may well be called to (v26) lose my earthly life for Jesus' sake - but in doing so I will gain eternal life with You. (The world of course sees this as foolish, as they do all they can to "save their lives" (and institutions and traditions and doctrines of men) - and yet in the end, they lose life with You.
And in that there is certainly (v27) NO PROFIT - even though their aim is always their own profit! "To gain the world but to forfeit your soul" is the greatest loss possible.
Who and what and why do I believe? I want THE TRUTH! Please!