Summary: God is concerned with true worship from the heart, not outward observances.

“The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ 8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” 9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 “For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” 14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 [“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”] 17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

It is my belief, and I contend along with many others that it is a Biblically based belief, that for each of God’s chosen ones there is a moment in time determined by God when He regenerates each one and grants them repentance and faith to believe. Now I’m not getting into a teaching on the doctrine of predestination today; I just want you to know that I believe God in His infinite wisdom and mercy and grace predetermined the day and time when I would be born spiritually into His eternal family. I tell you that because on the human side of the equation I feel that I may have responded sooner to the call of God had I realized at a younger age what a Lionheart Jesus was, in the face of the opposition He faced from the religious men in power in Judea.

I don’t know why I didn’t recognize this side of His character when I read the Word or heard it preached in my youth, but I never picked this out of the Gospel narratives until well into adulthood, and after becoming a Christ-follower, that Jesus was tough! He spoke the truth without flinching and without backpedaling, and there was never a moment when He was not in absolute Divine control of Himself and of the situation.

Of course I wouldn’t be beginning my sermon this way today, if this rugged courage was not in evidence in my chosen text. And that is not even the main point of my sermon today, but since it took me so long to see it I just like to make sure I occasionally shed some light for others on what a Man, what a Champion my Savior is.

So let’s go to it now, asking Him to speak His Word to our minds and hearts.

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