Cecil Hutson Sermon Archive
August 19, 2007 PM
A DRAMATIC STATEMENT
INTRO: Every saying of Jesus is important. I would never, in any way, want ever to diminish a single word which came from His mouth. But I think there were those things which Jesus said which may have had a greater impact on events and circumstances than other sayings of His. Our text for tonight is, I believe, one of those crucial, course determining sayings. From Matthew's account of this event we learn that "the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying" (Mt 15:12). These were, of course, the Jerusalem Pharisees, who would ultimately be responsible for Jesus' death. But in this text there is so much of practical and vast importance to discipleship and a life that pleases God.
Earlier, Jesus had answered the critical scribes and Pharisees
- the issue then had been the ritual washings of rabbinic tradition
- the concern of the scribes and Pharisees was the possibility that something bought at the market might have been touched by an "unclean" person
- all the washings Jesus mentioned in vv. 3,4 were "tradition of the elders"
Now, in an apparently different setting Jesus teaches of true defilement
- on this occasion He calls all the people to Him - this needs attention
- "Hearken...understand" - I get the impression that this was one of those issues about which Jesus was passionate ... and which would challenge thinking
- hearers were so steeped in tradition that truth would be difficult for them
7:15 is the truth about what defiles a man
- intrinsically speaking, meats do not have in them moral/spiritual impurity
- to eat with ritually unwashed hands will not morally/spiritually defile
- what defiles is what comes from within a person in his actions
The problem? not everyone would hear with understanding - 7:16
- there are those hard lessons to be learned
- not hard, perhaps, because incomprehensible
- but hard because of prejudice, long habits & customs, deep personal desires & feelings, fear, etc. - it is the same now as it was then!
- Earlier, Jesus had answered the critical scribes and Pharisees
JESUS EXPLAINS MORE FULLY TO HIS DISCIPLES
7:17 Jesus leaves the crowd for private time with disciples
- they asked Him about the "obscure saying" (parable)
- in private they told Him that the Pharisees were offended - and He told them that the Pharisees were "blind leaders of the blind" (Mt 15:14)
- Mt 15:13 - Jesus declares the Pharisaical system is not from God - it will be "rooted up"
He notes concern that His disciples are "without understanding also"
- what enters a person from without is not what defiles him
- why? because it does not enter into his heart and is disposed of by the body's natural elimination system
- is He here setting aside the Mosaic dietary laws? - I think not; however, He may be setting the stage for what Peter experiences at Acts 10:9-16
7:20-23 is the point of Jesus' explanation
- the behavior of a person is the defiling thing - it comes from within
- 7:17 Jesus leaves the crowd for private time with disciples
- re: the dietary laws ... the food was not what defiled ... disobedience to those laws, however, defile a person
- a most assuredly a dramatic statement for people steeped in Judaism
The "heart" of a person is the issue here - for good or ill
- Prov 4:23 - this has been, in fact, always the issue!
- so,1 Pet 4:1,2 - the "new mind" is what is necessary to please God
- notice Ezek 18:31 - in the previous verse repentance has been the call ... repentance does require a new heart, a new mind, issuing in a right spirit
Of actions and underlying attitudes?
- Jesus notes 7 plural things - 6 singular things
- there are the seven "actions" which issue from the six attitudes - how many sinful actions issue from pride and lasciviousness?!!!
- interestingly, evil thoughts are included here (so, Mt 5:28)
Mt 5:8 - "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God"
- may I lovingly suggest that we need to honestly think about our hearts?
- we are careful about taking care of our physical hearts - are we as careful about our spiritual hearts?
- what Jesus said here needs our consideration
CLOSE: I know of few more challenging lessons from scripture than this one. It strikes at the very nature of who we really are. And the questions come, "Who are we ... really?"
Cecil A. Hutson
19 August 2007