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In one of his famous escapades, Winnie the Pooh, this lovable toy bear, tries to trap an elephant--or, as he pronounces it, a heffalump.

So Pooh digs a hole to catch the heffalump, and decides to bait the trap with some of his own favorite food: honey. But of course, it is very hard for Winnie the Pooh to part with honey, and he just can't bear to leave a whole jar of it in the trap, so he starts to eat some of it himself...excusing himself with the thought that it's important to make sure it really is honey, all the way down. It wouldn't do to have anything else, perhaps cheese or something, at the bottom. And so of course, by the time Winnie the Pooh is finally sure that it was honey all the way down the jar is empty!

For Pooh, what matters is what the jar really contains, all the way down. If it's only got honey at the top, but something quite different underneath, then what's the point?

And this is what lies at the heart of what Jesus says about the Pharisees and their purity laws. What's the point of keeping all the purity laws if underneath one is not the kind of person God always had in mind?

What sort of person did God always have in mind? A person who was pure, not just on the surface, but all the way down to the very depths of the personality. And Jesus is saying that the purity laws of what is "clean" and what is "unclean" miss the point entirely. What God is offering through Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Him is a cure for the deep-level impurity we all suffer from. Being right with God has nothing to do with trying to follow a bunch of external laws. That will only make you a hypocrite and you will eventually fall into a pit. Jesus Himself is the only remedy for the wickedness and uncleanness that infects us all.

And Jesus, as the Remedy, needs to be applied to the disease, deep down inside each of our human personalities, so that we can be changed from the inside out!

(From a sermon by Kenneth Sauer, "Jesus Heads to East Ridge," 8/10/2011)

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