Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rules for the sake of rules

Reading the first part of Matthew chapter 12 is like reading my own frustrations about bureaucracy. I swear I spend more of my (limited) time following-up with people and hounding them to do their jobs than I do anything else. Is it that times have changed and people are much lazier, yet more demanding than they used to be or is it a symptom of the times? I used to think it was the declining ethics and integrity in this generation, but after reading through Matthew and reading about the pharisees, I think it has always been around and will continue to be.

Chapter 12 tells about Jesus' disciples eating some grain because they were hungry. That in itself was not a problem. The controversy arose because they had to pick it off themselves. Back in that day, the Sabbath was sacred and no work was to be done on that day. It was strictly a day of rest. So, picking grain was technically "working." (Totally splitting hairs!) Of course, the pharisees approached Jesus, trying to trip Him up. I picture them just waiting, watching, rubbing their hands together when they saw that His disciples were "breaking the Sabbath." Of course, Jesus put them in their places.

The next part is what really gets me going. A man comes to Jesus with a "shriveled" hand (verse 10). The pharisees jumped right in at another opportunity to pin Jesus down on something. They asked Him if it was "lawful" to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out that if one of them lost a sheep, and found the sheep in a ditch, they certainly would pull it out when they found it...Sabbath or not... It was from that point that the pharisees started plotting how to kill Jesus. They could not see that they had taken something God had given (a day to rest) and turned it into hard and fast rules that could not be broken. Jesus was trying to point out to them how they had completely misconstrued the purpose of the Sabbath.

Talk about control freaks. They were so irritated that Jesus didn't follow their rules that they wanted to kill Him! Actually, not only did they want to kill Him, they started to actually plan on how to kill Him.

Verse 15 says that Jesus was aware of their plotting and withdrew from the place. He healed many more sick but told them (yet again) not to tell who He was.

This next part is chalk full of good stuff...Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute (I wonder if he was like Helen Keller.) Jesus healed him so he could talk and see. The pharisees of course had to deflect what Jesus did so they told everyone that Jesus drove out the demons by working with Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Jesus pointed out (yet again) how flawed their logic was by saying that if He is the Son of God (which He said He was) then how could He be working with Satan? He also asked hwo the pharisees drove out demons.

One of my all time favorite lines of Jesus' is when He says what He said in verse 34, "You brood of vipers." I think He was calling them snakes. Devious, selfish, coniving men. They took every opportunity to distort the truth and try to make Jesus look bad.

The very crux of the argument that people like to give; "If I'm a good person I will go to Heaven" is blown to pieces in verse 30: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters." If we are not for Jesus, or professing He is the Son of God, we are automatically saying that we don't think He's the Son of God...or (maybe worse) we don't care that He is the Son of God. Here's a scary verse for me...."But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word, 'For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned'" (verses 36-37).

I always wonder about the people who say that God is an arrogant God because Her claims He is the only God and the only way to Heaven is through Jesus. But why does that bother them? Either they don't believe He is who He says He is or they DO believe but they don't care to follow Him. Either way, they choose whether or not to acknowledge His position. God is very clear that if you don't acknowledge His position, then you aren't going to be in Heaven with Him. These same people get all bent out of shape about that. Why? I don't get it? Either you don't want to be with Him or you don't believe there is such a Heaven, so why get all upset? I think it's because somewhere in their hardened hearts, they know the truth. I think the Holy Spirit is whispering to them and they are trying to shut it out.

Ill finish up chapter 12 tomorrow. For now, the hubbs just came home early and surprised us all! =)
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