Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
Jesus calls the crowd to himself again. Perhaps the Pharisees and other leaders had forced their way to the front. Or the crowd had just moved out of their way because of their superior position and education. Now that Jesus had put them in their place because of their hypocrisy, Jesus calls out to the crowd.
I love this about Jesus. He hasn’t given up on them. He hasn’t given up on you. He hasn’t given up on me. He’s reaching out to them. He’s still reaching out to you. He’s still reaching out to me. He’s calling out to them. He’s still calling out to you. He’s still calling out to me
He’s our outside-in God. He’s not satisfied to only surround himself with people that are “worthy” of him. He’s not content to lean back in his high and exalted throne in heaven. He’s not happy to be sitting with his arms crossed, barking out orders, demanding absolute obedience.
No. This is God who doesn’t act like he deserves, but a God who seeks. A God who listens. A God who calls out. A God who wants us to share life with him.
This isn’t a God who lives in some ethereal, eternal, ecstatic bubble. No, this is a God who’s come down. A God who’s experienced all the hate, pain, and nastiness of this life that we’ve suffered.
we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin
And when Jesus calls, he explains what he’s about to say along with what he expects us to do.
· Listen – use the God given gift of not just picking up the vibrations but translating them into the meaning and direction Jesus is giving you. He wants us to hear him in a way that leads to change.
· Understand – once the ears have heard, and the brain has translated the sounds into words, we are to use our brains to take the Jesus given information and go deeper. We’re not just supposed to be able to repeat the words, but we are to put them together so that we not only get the deeper meaning, but also to put them into practice.
It’s sort of like eating. Yes, we bite, chew, and swallow the food. But we then absorb the nutrients, so they are useful for us, becoming part of us. Food ultimately empowers us and becomes part of us.
Jesus is more concerned with what comes out of a person’s words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes than whatever we happen to jam into our mouths. He’s so much more interested in how we live rather than what we happen to touch along the way of life.
Jesus knows that our lives are the result, the fruit, of what we decide about him. Our lives are to start with his love for us. That’s to motivate us to love him in return and then to love others. There is no room for trying to buy our way into his favor.
I grew up with the idea that I was responsible to earn God’s favor. That God had his laws, and I was duty bound to obey each and every one of them.
But there’s just one problem with that approach. Look at any law and it’s limited to telling you what’s right and wrong. From there, it only talks about the punishment for breaking the law. There is no reward for following the law.
Or to put it another way, laws only create “debits” that take us into debt. Laws never create “credits” or plusses.
If you think I’m kidding, try this out next time you’re pulled over by the police for making a “Hollywood stop.” You can try it all you want. “But officer, I’ve come to a complete stop at least a million times. Doesn’t that count for something?”
Or, next time you are sent a speeding ticket by one of those cameras, write a letter to the judge. Explain how you’ve been obeying the speed limit for years. Doesn’t that count for something?
The short answer is, “No!” You’ve earned no credits to offset breaking the law. The law doesn’t do anything like that.
That’s why God had to come down. God had to show us how life was to be lived. But more than that, God had to pay the price. He had to pay the penalty, the accumulated debt for all our sin.
That, in a nutshell, is who Jesus is and what he did.
Doesn’t he deserve our thanks? Our worship?