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05182014 slides

  1. 1. Jesus’ Teaching on the Law Matthew 15:1–11, 15–20
  2. 2. Background Today’s lesson focuses on a confrontation Jesus had with scribes and Pharisees over the meaning of the cleanness laws of the old covenant. Debates regarding these laws were common in the first century. Since the religious authorities tried to pull Jesus into these sharp debates, it is helpful to understand why they occurred in the first place.
  3. 3. Background The best way to understand debates of the first century AD regarding God’s law is to remember the law’s complex history. God first revealed His laws, through Moses, on Mount Sinai; the recipients were the Israelites after their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. These laws were tailored to a people that God was bringing into the Promised Land to live as free people.
  4. 4. Background Each tribe and family had its own God-given land, and God’s law showed them how to use their freedom to reflect His holiness and justice. But the passing of the centuries and the coming of kings saw the Israelites refusing to live according to God’s laws, so He punished them by handing them over to other nations.
  5. 5. Background Since many of the laws delivered through Moses were directly connected with life in the Promised Land free from foreign domination, the first-century Jews struggled to know how to apply such laws under Roman occupation.
  6. 6. Background For example, the Sabbath laws stressed the need for everyone to rest—whether slave or free, foreigner or native. Under the Romans, however, the full application of Sabbath laws was not always possible. Therefore, the common people relied on the scribes and Pharisees for interpretation and application of God’s law.
  7. 7. Background Problems arose, however, when the religious authorities ended up placing their interpretations on the same level as the laws themselves. Today’s text is an example of this. (Mark 7:1–23)
  8. 8. Matthew 15:1, 2 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.’
  9. 9. Matthew 15:1, 2 Jesus’ is confronted by several Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. The designation Pharisees means “the separated ones,” and they are very strict in their interpretation and application of God’s law (Acts 26:5). Scribes, who are often associated with Pharisees in the New Testament, study and make copies of the law as their occupation.
  10. 10. Matthew 15:1, 2 Scribes and Pharisees from there see themselves as the guardians of proper religious instruction. So when they hear about strange teaching coming out of the small villages scattered about Palestine, they send envoys to gather information and, if need be, set matters straight.
  11. 11. Matthew 15:1, 2 At the time of this text, Jesus already has had head-on collisions with the religious authorities and they are already plotting to kill Him (Matthew 12:14). Their presence in this passage is ominous.
  12. 12. Matthew 15:1, 2 The Jewish leaders who wish to silence Jesus launch this particular attack based on the power of the elders. The elders being referred to are probably the religious authorities back in Jerusalem; they are very careful to wash their hands ritually before eating (Mark 7:3, 4). It is likely that these elders and their predecessors have developed this tradition out of genuine concern to uphold the cleanness laws of the Old Testament.
  13. 13. Matthew 15:1, 2 The book of Leviticus places great emphasis on ritual purity or cleanness, so the scribes and Pharisees are not without biblical support. Their problem is that the Scriptures do not require ritual hand- washing before eating (Exodus 30:17–21; Leviticus 15:11). Rather, this is a tradition above and beyond that of the Law of Moses. The religious authorities also miss the point of the original meaning of passages about ritual cleanness, as well.
  14. 14. Matthew 15:3–6 He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.” But you say that whoever tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God”, then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God.
  15. 15. Matthew 15:3–6 Before setting the record straight on the issue of ritual cleanness itself, Jesus confronts the larger problem of tradition. Although these leaders present themselves as guardians of the Law of Moses, their traditions sometimes end up undermining that very law. Jesus is now putting this practice on trial.
  16. 16. Matthew 15:3–6 Jesus picks as His case study two interrelated laws that are relatively clear-cut. The command to honor one’s parents is stated in Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16. The punishment of death for cursing one’s parents is recorded in Leviticus 20:9. Everyone would be nodding in agreement.
  17. 17. Matthew 15:3–6 Though these religious authorities pay lip service to God’s command to honor parents, they also endorse a tradition that accomplishes exactly the opposite. Even we understand that the command to honor father and mother originally also included the idea of seeing to the needs of aging parents.
  18. 18. Matthew 15:3–6 But the teachers of the law provide a loophole that enables opting out of this responsibility. In Mark 7:11, this loophole is called Corban, which means “offering to God.” This legal sleight of hand involves (1) dedicating some or all of one’s income to God, thereby making it ineligible for nonreligious use while (2) retaining possession of the money to provide for one’s own needs.
  19. 19. Matthew 15:3–6 Since caring for parents can be classified as “nonreligious,” Corban allows personal funds to be exempted from use in providing for parents’ needs.
  20. 20. Matthew 15:3–6 The religious authorities apparently do not believe that caring for parents was required by God, but Jesus disagrees. His rebuke here is quite sharp. Paul follows Jesus in this by rebuking those who do not provide care for their own families. He even calls such care a way to show “piety,” the neglect of which is worse than the offenses of infidels.
  21. 21. Matthew 15:3–6 1 Timothy 5:8 And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  22. 22. Matthew 15:3-6 1 Timothy 5:8 And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  23. 23. Matthew 15:7-9 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” ’
  24. 24. Matthew 15:7-9 Hypocrites are those who say one thing but do another. Their words do not match their actions, and Jesus laying this charge at their feet. No love was lost here. The prophet Esaias (Isaiah) encountered their same mind-set in his day, and the words he spoke in identifying this problem are timeless.
  25. 25. Matthew 15:7-9 Jesus quotes from Isaiah 29:13, and the situation Isaiah faced in the eighth century BC has parallels to that of the first century AD. To begin with, this quotation is part of a prophecy beginning in Isaiah 29:1, which addresses the people of Jerusalem specifically.
  26. 26. Matthew 15:7-9 In Isaiah’s day, they worshipped God with great pomp and enthusiasm, but then they treated needy people unfairly in the courts and failed to address their economic situation as the law required (Isaiah 1:12–17). This is the same hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees who teach high principles yet neglect needy parents.
  27. 27. Matthew 15:7-9 Someone was convincing the Israelites that their sinful way of life was acceptable. Someone was deceiving the people with persuasive teachings that were deeply hypocritical. Isaiah 28:7, 14 names these perpetrators as the rulers, priests, and false prophets. Isaiah’s insights were relevant not only to His time and place, but also to first-century Jerusalem and to us today.
  28. 28. Matthew 15:10, 11 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’
  29. 29. Matthew 15:10, 11 Jesus addresses three groups in Matthew 15. First, He engages His accusers: the scribes and Pharisees; His word to them is one of judgment on their faulty teaching and example. Now He turns to the wider crowd to set the record straight. In verse 15, He will finish His teaching by addressing His most immediate followers.
  30. 30. Matthew 15:10, 11 Jesus’ teaching is simple. People are not clean or unclean in God’s eyes based on what enters their bodies—by way of their hands or otherwise. If that were the case, then only the wealthy could be consistently clean in a legal way because many people do not have water to spare for such purposes.
  31. 31. Matthew 15:10, 11 In reality, Old Testament purity laws seldom have to do with dirt. Some purity laws have to do with blood primarily because life is in the blood, making it sacred to God (Genesis 9:4).
  32. 32. Matthew 15:10, 11 Some purity laws did have to do with vessels that are set apart for sacred purposes; because these are sacred, they cannot be allowed to make contact with anything else (Leviticus 6:24–30). Such laws are designed to create Israel to be a set-apart people who take God’s holiness seriously and do not defile themselves with the sins of their neighbors.
  33. 33. Matthew 15:10, 11 The concept of religious cleanness has to do with holiness, not dirt 1 Peter 3:21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
  34. 34. Matthew 15:10, 11 God wants people to live holy lives so He can dwell among them; when that happens, they will be shining examples to the world. By focusing only on legal cleanliness before eating, the Pharisees unfortunately miss the heart of purity.
  35. 35. Matthew 15:10, 11 Since the teaching coming from the mouths of the Pharisees is wrong, they themselves are judged by Jesus to be a “generation of vipers” and “evil” because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34, 35).
  36. 36. Matthew 15:15-20 But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’
  37. 37. Matthew 15:15-20 As is their custom, Jesus’ followers press Him to explain His teaching (Matthew 13:36; Luke 8:9). They knew their necks hung in the balance as well.
  38. 38. Matthew 15:15-20 Jesus’ followers appear to be slow learners. But we should not look down our noses at them when a teaching seems obvious to us today. They have been under the influence of confused teaching about purity for a while.
  39. 39. Matthew 15:15-20 So Jesus begins with basic biology. To put it in modern terms, whatever enters the body works its way through the digestive system, and whatever the body finds useless leaves the body. Jesus’ point is that everything that enters the human body leaves the body without making a significant difference in the life of the one who is eating.
  40. 40. Matthew 15:15-20 The right place to focus is the heart. Ancient Jews do not view the heart as the primary place of their feelings; rather, they locate feelings in the intestines, similar to how we use the word gut, as in “I had a gut feeling.”
  41. 41. Matthew 15:15-20 For the ancient Jew, the heart is the intellectual seat. They refer to the heart in the way we often refer to the mind or brain, although they probably do not disconnect feelings from the intellect the way moderns often do. By heart Jesus likely refers to one’s inner disposition—what people think, especially when they believe that no one else knows those thoughts
  42. 42. Matthew 15:15-20 Someone who truly honors God seeks God’s heart. When a person’s heart is in tune with God, the rest of his or her life will reflect that fact (1 Timothy 1:5). The state of a person’s heart prompts all his or her behaviors, and Jesus lists several sinful actions that should be obvious in that regard. These things have nothing to do with whether or not people wash their hands ceremonially before eating.
  43. 43. Conclusion Believers have been entrusted by God with the good news of God’s kingdom and we must be careful to pass this message along faithfully. We must humbly admit that we are prone to confuse important information.
  44. 44. Conclusion We must return to the Scriptures constantly to evaluate what we hear, even from respected teachers. The Christians in Berea did this for the apostle Paul (Acts 17:10, 11), and we should continue to do so today.
  45. 45. Lessons Finding fault with others can blind us from truth and compassion. To ignore or negate God’s scriptures removes His promise and that blessing from our lives.
  46. 46. Lessons Elevating our opinions to the command of God rivals God and separates us from Him. A critical nature is often a symptom of an unhappy and frustrated life.
  47. 47. Closing Thought Let God’s Word purify you from the inside out.