Monday, March 21, 2016

Appearances & Realities: Impossibilities?

And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat.  When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.  Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?  But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Luke 11:37-42)
 
He didn't ceremonially wash before dinner.

That was the charge, or would have been, had they opened their mouths first. But Christ was using this as a teaching moment.

The expectation was that all could see him wash. Not that the washing was effective. Who is to say he was not clean. He was of course. What goes in the body does not make a man unclean (Matt 15:11).  It is the heart of a man which needs daily cleansing.  There a man finds a spring of filth (Jer. 17:9).

Yet here in this passage we see it is only the outside of a person which the Pharisees were concerned in. External cleansing may be helpful but if it does not reflect the reality within – it is worthless.

Remember how Christ washed the disciple’s feet. In John 13:2-10 we read of the washing of the disciple’s feet by Christ. In that account Peter objected to Christ washing his feet like a common servant. Yet this outward washing metaphorically represented the cleansing of sin in the lives of people. Peter, hearing Christ's explanation that if He did not wash Peter’s feet, he will have no part with him, says to Christ, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” (vs. 9)

It isn’t that one only needs cleansing one time for sin (salvation), but we must come daily to him for confession, lest we develop a hardening of the heart toward the Lord. So the daily ritual washing of the hands in Luke 11 was not wrong per se, but the understanding one has of its purpose and intent is what is important.  

The Pharisees had left the purpose in favor of the outward act. In doing so, they led the people to seek outward conformity to an external standard as a way to measure their faith toward God. The external evidence is not without meaning and is valuable, but it derives its value from the spiritual realities behind it. If we fail to recognize this, then we will fail in understanding our God's love and actions for us. Furthermore to place a greater value upon the outward actions then the inward reality we become idolaters –for we trust in the act more than the Lord whose love and action give the act substance. Only then are we able to seek God rightly.
But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. (41)
2 alternative translations:
Literally – Rather give alms of what is inside; then indeed
MacArthur – Rather give that which is within as your alms; then indeed
As you can see what we are to give is the internal worship – much like David expressed Psalm 51:15-17:

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.


“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (42)
On the one side the Pharisee or the Legalistic Fundamentalist.

On the other side the New Evangelical, or the Antinomian.

Who is it who is right?

Christ says both parties are missing something huge. Can anyone do all which is required of them? Clearly in our passage we are to do all the law, even to tithing of mint and herb; yet in Micah 6:8 we read that we must not neglect other matters:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

There is only one means to do all this. It is in the power and strength of the blood of Christ. In ourselves we have nothing, but in Christ we can do all things; Love, Mercy, and even Law.

Amen

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