Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)
Jesus loves us because we are His sons and daughters. What’s the first thing that parents want to do for their children? Of course, their love. Parents love children day or night, sunny or rainy days. All times and any situations, parents give their undivided love to their children – caring for and nurturing them. Jesus did the same to His disciples and those who came to Him. Jesus loved them and poured out His love along with His blessings and His miraculous healing. Jesus also did not forget to feed them, when they were hungry. He satisfied five thousand and four thousand in the middle of the wilderness with five loaves of bread and two fish, and seven loaves of bread and fish. After fully satisfied, His disciples could collect twelve and seven basketfuls of leftovers respectively. Yes, Jesus was the love for the people, and the very source of blessings. The people around Him were fully satisfied and blessed spiritually.
Jesus is the true Lord of all. In Him, we can find peace, and comfort. Most of all, we can experience His unfathomable love because Jesus dearly loves us. Jesus is also our true friend when we are in trouble. He is with us and comforts us with His unfathomable peace in His merciful love. Only is the obstacle of not fully getting His love lack of our faith. Peter walked on water like Jesus, but when he feared an approaching huge wave. He immediately sank. Peter shouted “Save me, Lord!” Jesus immediately reached out His merciful and mighty hands, and grabbed him out of the deep water and made him standing again on the stormy water. Jesus saved Peter, and Jesus and Peter went into the boat. The same Jesus is with us to save us and to keep from sinking into a deep water out of fear of the world. Jesus does not hesitate to reach out His merciful and mighty hands. What we need in the time of trouble is just a shout to Jesus, “Save me, Lord!” In Him, we are comforted, and through Him, we have a true hope, by Him, we see the Kingdom of Heaven. Because of Him, we stand firm on this world in faith. Surely, we are not sinking and failing. This is our hope, faith in Him as promised by Jesus and sealed by His love on the cross.
One day, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They heard about Jesus, who healed the sick and comforted those who were suffering. He always poured out His love to fill up the people with Heavenly hope and peace in their hearts. Additionally, Jesus’ teaching was also not like those of the Pharisees and teachers of religious law. The people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching, for he taught with real authority. As a result, the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jerusalem were not uncomfortable of Jesus. It was not all of their concerns. Jesus’ disciples made this situation worse. They did not keep the tradition of the elders. This utmost important tradition of the entire Jewish nation was ignored by Jesus’ disciples. The tradition was kept by the entire Jewish people for generations as sacred as the Word of God. Anyone who broke the tradition of the elders were equally condemned like those who broke the God’s law. Before this disruption of Jesus and His disciples, everything was good. Pharisees and elders of the law taught the tradition, and the entire Jewish nation obediently followed their teachings like sheep. Suddenly, the sacred tradition was broken by Jesus and His disciples. It was a really serious matter for Pharisees and teachers of the religious law. They decided to come to Jesus to confront Him, who was merciful and full of love of the people of suffering and yearning for peace and comfort, and who was busy of healing and teaching. The people received Jesus, and Jesus loved them. The people also loved Jesus.
As arriving from Jerusalem, the Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law directly asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law traveled from Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee region, where Jesus was preaching the Kingdom of God. It was not an easy trip. The distance from Jerusalem was about 200 Km (i.e., about 120 miles). At the time of Jesus, there was no highway nor a train. It was a three- or four-day journey. Therefore, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were on the road at least three days with one purpose to confront Jesus and tear down Him to nullify His teaching and scatter His disciples rapidly increasing by number. On the way to the sea of Galilee region, they were discussing how to attack and destroy Jesus. Unfortunately, they could not get to a good approach to attack Jesus because all that they heard were good about Jesus. They even heard that His teaching was completely different from their teaching, because His teaching was full of authority, mercy, grace and love. After a long discussion, they decided not to directly attack Jesus, but to blame His disciples’ bad behaviors of breaking the tradition of the elders because they were the experts, and they had the full authority over the tradition of the elders. As they chose the battleground, they determined to attack His disciples first with the maximum strength. (This is how Satan attacks us. Satan’s attack comes through our weakest part in us.)
Upon the question of the Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law from Jerusalem, Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. (Matthew 15:3-6)
What was taught by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law looked religious and logical. Who should be the first? God or parents? Of course, God. Then to whom should a person devote a good thing? Of course, to God. What a wonderful teaching it was!
In fact, Jesus saw through their hearts and their teaching. Yes, God can see through the inside of us (i.e., our heart and mind) although we, human beings, can only see the outside. The real question is why a person devote to God instead of the one’s parents. What’s the real motive of the deviation to God of a good thing that would help the one’s parents? To whom does the one really give the good thing? To God or to the one’s own self? In other words, is it a selfish behavior to get reward from God while ignoring the parents’ needs in the name of God? Does the person really love God or the parents? After all, whom the person loved was the self and the selfish motive drove the religious act of giving to God. Jesus saw thought this, and their deliberate act of canceling the word of God for the sake of their own tradition and themselves.
“You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’ ” (Matthew 15:7)
Jesus clearly pointed out their hypocrisy and their false teaching of man-made ideas. They taught the tradition as if it came from God! They were misleading the people, and they feared Jesus who taught the truth, love and mercy. This was the very reason why the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were troubled by Jesus and made a long journey to confront Jesus. After all, they came to the Sea of Galilee region out of the love of themselves to protect their teaching. All came from their own greed and ego.
Jesus saw through this wickedness of their hearts. Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.
“Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:10b)
It is true that all sins are originated from our hearts, which is inside of us, not from externally. The Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law were speechless. The truth was spoken to the people, and they were offended by the truth because they were of the world. All surrounding Jesus could see the Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law, who were deeply offended. Some of His disciples came close to Him, and told that they were offended.
Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:14)
Jesus clarified – do not follow the false teaching of Pharisees and teachers of religious law because they would be uploaded when time comes. Those who were led by them would fall into the same ditch and be perished together with them. What a stern warning of Jesus! We have to remember that there is no compromise of the truth for the Kingdom of God.
Peter came to Jesus, and said, “Explain the parable to us.” He understood the warning of the false teaching, but he wanted to know the meaning of the parable also.
“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” (Matthew 15:16-20)
Yes, Jesus’ teaching is absolutely true. Things coming into our life just soon passes by us unless we actively grab them and put into our heart. Then they grow in our heart. If what we grab is God’s word, then it will grow in our heart and bear the fruit of Spirit, but if it is of the world, then it bears the fruit of the world. What is the fruit of the world? Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. Of course, we would say we are not a murderer nor a vicious evil person because we did not murder anyone nor intentionally harm others. However, Jesus said if we are angry at others, we will receive the same judgement of murder (Matthew 5:21-22). That is, our anger remains in our heart, and it will grow bigger. Then when an opportunity comes, it bears a crop of murdering the other. Thus, what we have to do when we feel our anger to other? We take away our anger in heart as soon as possible before the anger roots into our heart. It would be getting harder to uproot our anger in our heart as it grows. How about the opposite? if one loves the other, then the love roots into our heart, grow and bear the fruit of love in our heart. Then how blessed we are as well as others whom we love!
We are a famer who plants seed in heart. What kind of seed do we plant? The seed of the world will bear the fruit of the world. The seed of the Kingdom of God will bear the fruit of the Spirit. It is true that we cannot do anything about a bird flying over our head, but we are definitely able to keep a bird from nesting on our head. We are what we plant on our heart. Are you planting the seed of the kingdom of God, or the seed of the world?
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:19-23)