Yesterday, we discussed Jesus’ teaching that Kingdom life is actually quite simple and is a life of peace. In this whole chapter, scenarios were presented one after another in which some core values and ways of the Kingdom were challenged by religious, unenlightened minds. These men adhered to the traditions of man and were oblivious to the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven. Religious tendencies have not stopped creeping into the hearts of men. We can learn a lot about how to live our calling by learning how Jesus differentiated His way from the religious ways of His time.
The following three challenges confronted Jesus:
- Matt. 12:1-14 Challenge of His Legitimacy
- Matt. 12:22-45 Challenge of His Spirit and Wisdom
- Matt. 12:40-50 Challenge of His Relationship
We’ll look at the first one today, and continue with the second two tomorrow…
Some background knowledge of the Teachings of Pharisees and others and the Tradition of Judaism.
- The zeal of the Pharisees for the Law appears in the allusions of the New Testament. They were meticulous about paying tithes, even of the small seeds and spices that grew in their gardens. (Matt 23:23)
- They had strict orders for the Sabbath Day. The Jews were forbidden to pick a straw on the road; woman were not allowed to carry a needle. They turned a Day of rest and merriment into a day of fear and slavery…
- They studied the Law diligently and assiduously tried to figure out what they owed God as their religious duty. Because their ideals far exceeded their performance, Jesus called them hypocrites and constantly reminded the Disciples to avoid their teachings and accused them of standing in the way of the Kingdom. (Matt. 23:13-14)
- These men who came against Jesus saw themselves as very Godly. They did all the “right” religious things and were proud of how observant they were. Sometimes in my life I fall into a rut of thinking that I am somehow “good” or “right” because of my church attendance, or quiet time, or service. That is the enemy’s trap where no further growth can occur. When this happens I must be humbled and realize that none of these things brings me closer to God. It is only through the work of Jesus that I can come to Him. Is there anything that has become a religious idol in your life? Is this religion keeping your relationship with Jesus stale?
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