The Northfield

  2535 Shore Road

  Northfield, NJ 08225


Church of Christ




Hear And Understand

"When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand" '(Matt. 15:10).

Jesus emphasis on biblical teaching as a basis for our worship does not condemn all tradition. After all, Jesus often engaged in practices that reflected Jewish traditions such as celebrating at weddings (John 2:1-9), singing psalms during the observance of the Passover (Matt, 26:26-30), saying a blessing before meals 14:19, and attending services in various synagogues (Mark 6:1-2). Jesus' concern was that traditions not be used in one aspect of our relationship to God to set aside the will of God for other aspects of our responsibility as disciples.

By saying, "hear and understand," Jesus called His listeners and us, to reflect seriously on what He was saying. As Jesus drew the "multitude to Himself," which included the Pharisees and Jesus' disciples, He told them that human rules were not as important to God as we make them out to be. In verse 11, Jesus makes it clear that, "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of his mouth defiles him."

The practice of washing one's hands before eating is sound hygienically, and, for the Pharisees, it was a matter of ritual purity. Jesus response to this was that failure to wash one's hands may affect one's physical health, or be a failure to observe a religious tradition, but hand washing does not affect one's spiritual health. Jesus' concern was that a person's heart be morally pure. Therefore, He stated, "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out his mouth defiles him." Ostensibly, what He is saying is that one can wash his hands until they bleed, but your heart will be defiled if you make the wrong moral choices with them. Worship is just not acceptable to God if a person refuses to obey God and morally defiles his heart by observing human traditions.

The disciples exhibited sensitivity toward not offending the Pharisees Jesus addressed, but Jesus was more concerned about offending God. Thus He touched a leper, called on a tax collector, healed on the Sabbath, and allowed His disciples to eat on that day if they were hungry. He emphasized the balance of doing what a person ought to do and making sure that a person did not leave undone the demonstration of "justice, mercy, and faith.

Inward piety and submission to God's will, always dictate what we do externally.

Have a wonderful weekend, and a meaningful and uplifting

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