Today’s scripture reading is from Matthew 15. Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” 10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
The line that grabs my attention this morning is “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your traditions. You hypocrites!” Jesus goes on to quote Isaiah the prophet to drive His point home saying “Your hearts and your actions are heading in different directions – saying different things!”
My understanding is that our word “hypocrite” comes from a Greek theatrical term referring to the mask that actors wore in Greek plays. The idea being a person uses a mask that presents a different person than they actually are – actors do that by intention – Jesus vehemently warns against “hypocrisy” as a feature of our lives. The Pharisees were going through the motions of faithfulness to God but their hearts were far from God – Jesus knew it – and called them on it.
In a very odd way this section gives me hope today. I am invited by Jesus to be real – to offer Him authentic worship – to not hide behind a mask of pride or arrogance or shame or guilt or habit or ritual or religiosity or whatever. I get to come to Him in my weariness and brokenness and my happiness and success – I get to come to Him in my authentic, transparent self in surrendering belief! I get to be me in the presence of my God honestly and openly. When what comes out of my heart is ugly I get to repent and receive forgiveness. When what comes out of my heart is beautiful and pure I get to rejoice and be encouraged by what God is working in me.
Most of all I get to live today authentically and transparently in the presence of my amazingly gracious God who loves me the way I am and too much to leave me that way!
Enjoy your God today!
How does this scripture strike you today?