Summary: Woe to us if we allow anything to come between us and the Gospel!
"Nothing but Jesus and the Cross"
As the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law watch the healing
miracles of Jesus take place, they decide that they have to criticize
Jesus openly in order to stop Him.
Will their criticism be about the healing itself?
Surrounded as they are by the recently healed, this would be a losing and
possibly dangerous strategy.
So, the best that they can come up with is this lame excusethey
saybasically "Your disciples dont wash their hands properly before
How can these folks compare the healing of the sick to this
inconsequential matter of dipping hands in water to run off any demons
one might accidentally ingest while eating?
Jesus says that the Scribes and Pharisees have "let go of the commands of
God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
In many ways, things have changed very little from that time to this
How many churches putas their highest prioritylets say what color the
carpet in the sanctuary should be or who gets to be chair of which
And we hear almost weekly about some scandal among clergy or laity who
put power, money, prestige, or personal desire above their calling.
How different this Gospel Lesson might have been if, after seeing Jesus
work and realizing its importance, the Scribes and Pharisees had come to
Jesus saying: "We would like to talk to you later about some issues; but
in the meantime, what can we do to help you with Gods work?"
How might our stories differ if we approach Jesus that way now?
So many things get in the way of our relationship with Christ, and our
ability to do His will as His Church.
Along with Paul may we be resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ
and Him crucifiedso that our ministryour message will not be ensnarled
by anythingbut will be done with the Spirits power.
Our faith must not rest on human wisdom, but on Gods power and Gods
In the Gospels Jesus issues three bewares to His disciples.
In Mark chapter 8 Jesus says, "Beware of the leaven of the Herodians."
These were the Jews who went along with the occupying army of Rome so
that they might be able to prosper materially. For them nothing was more
important than property, careers, and money.
In Matthew chapter 16 Jesus said, "Beware of the leaven of the
Their problem was that they had liberalized, deconstructed, watered
down or discounted the Scriptures to such a degree that there was no
good news left.
They didnt believe in angels, spirits, or even the resurrectionand this
is the reason they were so sad.
The third beware is of the leaven of the Pharisees.
Their leaven was legalism.
These Jewish believers had constructed a code of over 5,000 laws to
By following their code, they thought that they were earning Gods love,
deserving salvation, and even putting God in their debt.
The depth of their sin was the most obvious in their refusal to admit
They believed that they were somehow good enough to earn salvation.
When Jesus came and ministered He often ran into the Phariseesin the
temple, at funerals, at weddings, in synagogues.
The Bible tells us that the Pharisees became the constant opponents of
Jesus Christ and, in the end, actually plotted Jesus death.
After the Pharisees complained to Jesus about the disciples not washing
their hands properly before they ate Jesus quoted Scripture "He
replied, Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it
is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are
far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules
taught by men."
It is so easy for us to say, "How true this was of the Pharisees!"
but how hard it is for us to say, "How true this is of us!"
And its harder still to say, "How true this is of me!"
This experience with the Pharisees gave Jesus an opportunity to teach us
about the many ways we too can be trapped by our own evil intentions.
When we pick an apple with a worm hole in it, we are inclined to think
that a worm crawled to the surface of the apple, liked it, and bore the
hole from the outside.
Actually, a worm lays an egg in an apple blossom and the egg is hatched
in the core of the apple.
The hole that we see indicates that the worm has bored its way out from
And so it is with what causes us to be clean or unclean.
Evil intentions come from within usfrom our own hearts.
There is a point where we decide and then we do.