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Lesson 22
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Lesson 22

I.       Observation

A.     Outline

Confrontation with the Scribes and Pharisees (15:1-9)

Teachings to the Multitudes on Defilement (15:10-11)

The Pharisee’s Reaction and Jesus’ Comment about Them (15:12-14)

Further Explanation on the Teachings to the Multitude (15:15-20)

B.     Key Words/Phrases

Transgress, tradition, commandment of God, hypocrites, worship, heart, mouth, defile.

II.    Segment Analysis

1. The confrontation with these religious leaders from Jerusalem anticipates the opposition from the religious establishment that will culminate in Jerusalem.

2a. They substituted God’s commandments with rules made by men. By using gifts to God as an excuse for not honoring parents, they seemed to be devout but had actually done away with God’s command.

2b. Condoning or endorsing homosexuality in the name of Christian love.

3. Despite the good intentions behind them, these traditions placed more emphasis on the outward observance than the meaning of God’s commandments. These rules of men often misinterpreted and contradicted God’s word (e.g. forbidding to heal on the Sabbath). As a result, many people used them as excuses to get away with not keeping God’s word.

4. The passage does not condemn traditions in general. But the keeping of traditions becomes dangerous when the traditions become unbreakable rules to abide by or when they take the place of God’s commandments. Observing religious traditions, including rules related to our conduct or worship, always poses a potential danger of hypocrisy and may fool us into thinking that we are close to God when in fact our hearts are far from Him. What is worst is when the traditions themselves are wrong (e.g. 5-6); if we observe them, we become breakers of God law.

5a. These worshippers did not have the desire to obey God and thought that God would be pleased with just superficial observance. Teaching and obeying the commands of men could also be an opportunity to receive men’s praise (6:1,2,5,16). All of these intentions show disrespect for God.

5b. We may sometimes fool ourselves thinking that attending church service regularly guarantees a close relationship with God when we do not live to please God in our daily lives. Sometimes worldly values such as materialism, self-centeredness, or pleasure, may become the standards by which we think, behave or judge others by. They may surface among us even though we seem to be worshipping God (e.g. Jas 2:1-4; 1Cor 11:17-21).

5c. Mouth and lips vs. heart. What God looks for in us is sincerity of heart and a genuine desire to obey God in our lives (Jn 4:24; Ps 51:16,17; Mic 6:6-8).

6. Jesus did not hesitate to point out their wrong. They were offended because they took pride in their position as teachers and in their traditions. Their offense all the more betrays their guilt because their reaction shows that Jesus had touched their sore spot (hypocrisy).

7. Whatever is not from the will of the heavenly Father cannot stand (Acts 5:38). The enemies of Christ, who were not of God but of the devil, were doomed for destruction, even though their opposition was strong.

8. They were spiritually blind in the sense that they could not see their spiritual poverty and distance from God. Even so, they still played the role as religious teachers, guiding people into the wrong path (23:15).

9. The Pharisees placed emphasis on what goes into the mouth (ceremonial washing before meals), which cannot defile men at all. In other words, ceremonial washing has no effect on spiritual cleanliness.

10a. Defilement of the heart, which leads to sinful acts (19).

10b. In keeping the traditions of the elders, the scribes and Pharisees had overlooked the necessity of inner cleanliness. In fact, their practice of religious traditions had become a facade that covered up their pride, jealousy, and anger. They cannot see such defilement in themselves because they have been blinded by the traditions.

11. We must always keep a “pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith” (1Tim 1:5; Mt 5:8). Instead of deceiving ourselves with some outward observance, we should constantly be aware of our spiritual conditions and see if we are obeying God’s commandments from the heart.

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