By Brooke Holt
"Then the disciples came and said to him, 'Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?'" Matthew 15:12
Leaders these days work to win favor and support. Often, they phrase their words to draw and win crowds. Jesus was not that kind of leader! He did not mince words or amend his message to make the crowds happy or comfortable. Instead, Jesus constantly challenged the status quo of his day. He was not afraid to step on toes or to offend his audience.
Unlike Jesus, the disciples here seem much more concerned about how Jesus’ words were received. Jesus challenged the Pharisees and scribes who questioned why the disciples did not follow “the traditions of the elders” (Matthew 15:2). These leaders referred specifically to the tradition of handwashing prior to meals when a Jewish person was expected to cleanse themselves in a certain way.
Once again, Jesus would challenge these Jewish leaders to stop focusing on the external and to turn their focus to their hearts. Addressing this cleansing tradition, Jesus explained it was not what goes into the body that defiles a person but what comes out of the body. Dirt would not contaminate them, and neither would the food they consumed. These leaders were contaminated by their pride, selfishness, abuse, and spiritual hypocrisy.
The leaders heard Jesus, and they did not like what they heard. Jesus challenged their authority and made them uncomfortable. Jesus had seen them, not just their public religious performances but he had seen within them. Jesus addressed their hearts, minds, and spirits. Jesus was not afraid to offend people, because Jesus was committed to speaking the truth.
Why did Jesus and these religious leaders find themselves at odds? The Jewish leaders loved a good religious show. They loved to appear holy and righteous. On the other hand, Jesus did not care about a good show but about true transformation. He knew transformed hearts lead to transformed lives (not mere tradition keeping and rule following).
Jesus still speaks the truth, and he always speak that truth in love. His truth is found throughout the Scriptures. That truth still challenges us today. We can receive that truth and be changed by it, or we can resist it. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day resisted the truth of Jesus, and their hearts became even harder. Those who acknowledged the truth of Jesus experienced forgiveness, healing, and restoration.
Receiving the truth leads to living in truth. Living in truth leads to divine transformation. Jesus wants this transformation for you today!
Are you offended by Jesus’ words or are you willing to be challenged by his truth. Resistance still leads to hardness of heart while acceptance leads to transformation. Choose to be challenged by truth today! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Come explore the grand story of God as the one who knows and loves his people. In one of the greatest love stories ever told, The Book of Exodus reveals God as Yahweh, the Great “I AM.” He is the transcendent, all-powerful creator of all things who defeated the greatest powers of the earth. This same God would have his people know and love him in an intimate and personal way. The Great “I AM” – A Study of the Book of Exodus is a 9-week study consisting of a small group study guide combined with weekly video teachings. Come and meet The Great “I AM”.
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