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Mercy and Clean and Unclean - Day 18

You have a choice.

You can either read the reflection below or listen to me talk in the video here:

Matt 15:1-28

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honour me with their lips,    but their hearts are far from me.9 They worship me in vain;    their teachings are merely human rules.’”

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.


This is more on the idea we have already seen presented in Matthew of “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”. One of the biggest problems Jesus had with the Teachers of the law was that they used the law to protect themselves, but the purpose of the law was to bring people closer to God and not separate them from him. By focusing on the rules they held so tightly on to, they neglected the mercy inherent in the heart of the God they worshipped. Showing compassion and grace were overruled by duty and obligation. Jesus is not diminishing the law as unimportant, but it was more that they were misusing the law and ignoring who their God was. Look here and see how God declared who he is in Exodus 34:6“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, ” I think that this is what has driven me in these reflections. To seek to know Jesus more and more, and hold tightly onto him and not the rules and ideologies I have held onto in the past. I want to get rid of the unclean things that dwell in my heart that spew out of me and hurt people. I want to have God’s spirit work in me so that I can reflect his nature and his love. We can see in the last story how Jesus lived out grace and mercy. He was not sent to those outside of Israel and yet in an interaction with a Gentile woman, he shows mercy that extended beyond what his “mission parameters” were, why? Because he is a God who is rich in mercy. 

You are invited to pray or to be prayed for. As we learn more about who Jesus is let us then enter into prayer and be shaped by him.

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