Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Saturday after the Festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord

Posted on February 8, 2020 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 15:1-20 (NKJV)
15:1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
16 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
As we conclude our readings for this week two things remained consistent. One, the church leaders of Jesus’ day were still nit-picking at Him. Two, the church leaders of His day were not winning their war of words with Jesus.
But before we get to thinking too highly of ourselves in comparison to the Pharisees, maybe we do well to ask ourselves the same question Jesus asked Peter, “Are you also still without understanding?” It is so easy to forget that the only reason we can understand anything about what God is telling us is because God has opened our ears to hear.
The judgment of God is clear. We deserve nothing. Yet for Jesus’ sake we are given everything we need for life in this world. Most importantly, we are given faith to believe our sins are forgiven for His sake. Daily, God must show us that “out of the heart [our sinful vile hearts] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). Were it not for the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance each and every day of our lives in this world, our hearts would return to being stony and cold.
Thus we sing with King David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The constant reminder from God to us is to bring us time and time again to the understanding that our salvation depends totally on Him.
We pray: Heavenly Father, grant us clean hearts for Jesus’ sake, and keep us ever in the true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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