Thursday, May 15, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 18, 2014

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JESUS’ TEACHING ON THE LAW
(Learning GOD’s heart through HIS Word)
(Matthew 15:1-20)

In our Christian Churches today, just like in biblical times, man tends to put his laws and traditions ahead of the Word of GOD through their various so-called Christian denominations. Instead of training people to be Christians, we spend all of our time trying to teach our members how to be Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, etc. We all tend to look into Scripture and draw our own personal theology from them, instead of letting the bible interpret itself to us through long and careful study and assistance from the HOLY SPIRIT, WHOM JESUS says, will teach us all things and remind us of all things that JESUS taught about the Word of GOD HIMKSELF (John 14:26 &16:13-15).
GOD did not leave it to “sinful man” to interpret HIS Word to the world or to the Church. Why would HE do such a stupid thing? HE’s an all wise GOD WHO can’t help but show wisdom, and to do such a thing obviously would not be in keeping with HIS superior wisdom. Christianity is the only true religion because it is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. All other denominations (including the aforementioned), so-called Christian, or otherwise, are only mere products of a man’s mind.  
In Matthew 15:1-11, a group of Pharisees and teachers of religious law came to Jerusalem to interview JESUS and question HIM about HIS teachings in general, and the first thing they wanted to know is why HE and HIS disciples were disobeying, or ignoring their laws and traditions (i.e., ceremonial hand-washing) which they obviously placed above GOD’s law.
In verse 3, in response to their ludicrous question, JESUS poses a question and lecture of HIS OWN. Here HE asks them, “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 evil of father or mother must be put to death”. But you say, “You don’t need to honor your parents by caring for their needs if you give the money to GOD instead” (They called it Corban for GOD). This is just one example JESUS says, for there are many, many more (Mark 7:13)
And so, by your own tradition, you nullify the direct commandment of GOD. You hypocrites! Isaiah was prophesying about you when he said, “These people honor ME with their lips, but their hearts are far from ME. Their worship is a farce, for they replace GOD’s commands with their own man-made teachings”. And even today we continue to “make stuff up” about GOD, because our Christian denominations are in many ways, a farce also.
In verse 10 JESUS continues HIS teachings as HE turns to the crowd and says, “Listen to what I say and try to understand. You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do”. These statements by JESUS began to concern HIS disciples who were also among the brainwashed parishioners of the Church of Israel in those days. They too had become victims of the “false teachings” of the religious hierarchy in the Church.
In verse 12 we see how the disciples’ concerns are very much misplaced, as they seem to be more worried about “offending the Church leaders” with the Word of GOD, than they are about the Church leaders accepting the truth of GOD’s words. In verse 13 JESUS admonishes HIS wayward students that “Every plant that is not planted by GOD the FATHER will be rooted up”. HE then advises HIS followers to “Ignore them. They are like blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into the ditch”.  Here JESUS is saying that all Church leaders who are not called by GOD will be eventually eliminated from HIS Church. A person who does not himself know the Word of GOD cannot possibly teach anyone else the Word of GOD. In such cases both individuals will fall down to the pits of hell (Vs. 13-14).
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “heart” is “kardia”, and it is “one’s thoughts”, motives, or way of thinking”. And so, in the biblical sense, “heart” is not just an organ in one’s chest. As Christians, we must come to understand that “sin begins in “the thinking stages”, and therefore, so must “repent”. This holy idealism goes to the heart of all of JESUS’ teaching.
In verse 15, the Apostle Peter asks JESUS to expound on one of the statements HE had made earlier, when HE said, “People are not defiled by what they eat, but rather, by what they say and do”. In verses 16-20 JESUS explains it to Peter this way, “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body. On the other hand, “evil thoughts” that produce such sins as murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander are what defiles a person spiritually, morally, and physically in the sight of GOD. What one eats, or, whether or not one washes his or her hands before or after eating, can never make a person unacceptable to GOD.
If we are, in any sense, to become true followers of CHRIST, we must learn to, first, hear the Word spiritually, and then, do the Word physically. We also have to lay down our “human ingenuity” when it comes to doing the work of GOD. GOD does not need us to re-think HIS plan, and try to improve upon it. HIS plan is already perfect, and written out in HIS Word for all to see. HE just needs us to carry out that, “already perfect plan” sacrificially in and with our own bodies that HE gave us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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