Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

The context of the above statement is fascinating. Jesus called the Pharisees and the scribes’ attention to the fact that their positions nullified one of God’s Ten Commandments given to Israel in Exodus 20. The Pharisees and scribes’ reasoning seemed to be this. God commanded us to take care of our elderly parents. However, the temple is a national institution built to honor God. It is more important [spiritual] to support the temple that serves God through sacrificial worship and prayer than it is to take care of parents. Thus if you commit something to support the temple that should be used to meet your parents’ need, you are excused from caring for your parents.

Jesus made this statement to illustrate they actually did what they accused him of doing by violating the tradition of the Jewish elders. Jesus also declared their hearts did not belong to God and their worship was useless.

Please remember the Pharisees and scribes existed as a significant spiritual influence and scriptural authority in Israel. Even to Jesus’ disciples, the Pharisees and scribes’ feelings mattered. At that moment, the disciples could not fathom Jesus’ insensitivity to the Pharisees and scribes’ feelings and reactions.

This is the point to note now: Jesus “saw” a reality that not even the twelve “saw.” In fact, the only person who “saw” this reality was Jesus. What Jesus “saw” was a fairly simple truth: we honor God by valuing what He values, not by honoring what we value.

It was Israel that considered the temple as more significant than parents. It was Israel that regarded worship at the national temple as more significant than a command from God Himself. Do you give God the greatest honor by offering a sacrifice at the temple, or by obeying God?

Was what Jesus “saw” true? Yes! Was what he “saw” significant? Absolutely! Did what he “saw” direct people away from God? Certainly! Did what he “saw” cause spiritual people to substitute their values for God’s values? Without question! Did what Jesus “saw” make him popular or appreciated? No!

As we spiritually mature, we “see” things we never “saw” before. More times than not, those around us do not “see” what we “see.” Blessed is the Christian who refuses to stop “seeing” because he/she develops spiritually. Blessed is the Christian who leads as he or she “sees” rather than destroys as he or she “sees.” Read Matthew 15:13-20.

Matthew 12:7 "But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 20 July 2006

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