Monday, February 4, 2013

Beware, Blind Guides ***

S. Matthew 23:13 – 39

O. The teaching of what sorrow awaits the Pharisees and teachers of religious law.

A. Jesus begins deriding the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, showing how they aren’t on the right path, bringing those that listen and believe in their message on the wrong path as well.
“For you . . . make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!
“Blind guides! . . . How blind! For which is more important – the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? . . . For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income . . . but you ignore the more important aspects of the law – justice, mercy and faith. Blind guides!
“. . . For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence! . . . First wash the inside of the cup and the dish and then the outside will become clean, too.
“. . . For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Each of these excerpts from this teaching highlights the importance of the internal state of our life. The external gifts and sacrifices, the tithes are secondary and are meaningless without the relationship with God and the importance of justice and mercy. In fact, Jesus states multiple times about these religious leaders being “blind guides,” highlighting not only their ignorance of the truth but their inability to lead anyone to heaven.

The verses on ‘the cup and the dish’ and the ‘whitewashed tombs’ talk about the role of the internal in the eternal. We may appear to be pure of heart to others, but if we are not actually pure of heart, it is meaningless. We may wear beautiful and clean clothes, but inside we are just bones and impurity without our relationship with God and the universe.

There is another message that Jesus tries to convey here. Those that lead us may not be as they seem; they may even be on the wrong path. If we blindly follow anyone, we are as blind as these religious leaders Jesus castigates. The only path to knowing which path we are on is through our direct relationship with God. If we do not have this relationship, if we do not take time and space in every single day to have this relationship, to care for this relationship, we are blind and will not be saved.

P. May I take time every day to have a relationship with God.

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