Hi people today I would like to share something and clear a common misconception people have about God. I feel this post is more to do with unburdening people of tiresome rituals, which people have been taught with the aim of being put right with their god. This is taken partly from last Sunday’s word at Church.
Allow me to quote
9 Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. 10 “Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.
11 “The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed,‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I fast two days a week, and I give you a tenth of all my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For all who make themselves great will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be made great.”
- A tax collector was a person who collected unpaid taxes from people. The tax collector of Jesus’ time had the full backing of ruling empire and so they did everything to squeeze the money out of the people no matter what was the person’s circumstance. We don’t have tax collectors today but we have something similar and those are loan sharks. Tax collectors like loan sharks were greedy and took more money than they were supposed to.
- The Pharisees were like Jewish priest.
Incase you would like to know, the Bible consist of the Old and New Testament. The Testament consists mostly of History and God’s message to His people, which came through the prophets. It is important to note that the time difference between the last record of the Old Testament till the time Jesus arrived was roughly 4 centuries, 400 years.
So knowing this, I would like to add that in these 4 centuries many traditions sprang up and got associated with the Jewish religious belief. When Jesus came there were 3 major religious Jewish societies the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, the Pharisees were often the most vocal and influential.
God never intended for his worship to be ritualistic because when something becomes ritualistic it looses its significance. Let me give you a real life example, when someone answers the phone, what is the first thing he says? “HELLO”…isn’t it. However when this same someone comes across someone he knows on the road, what is it that he “sometimes” uses to greet that known person? “Hello”. Now tell me which “Hello” signifies a “real Hello”. The “Hello” which came out proactively to greet another right! Not the “Hello” over the phone because that has been said so many times that it has almost lost its meaning and significance. Saying “Hello” over the phone started of with the idea of greeting the caller, in the same way in the above mentioned 400 years the Jewish leaders started maintaining traditions for a purpose which they thought would honour God. Allow me to quote from Mark 7:3-4.
For the Pharisees, as well as the rest of the Jews, follow the teaching they received from their ancestors: they do not eat unless they wash their hands in the proper way; 4 nor do they eat anything that comes from the market unless they wash it first. And they follow many other rules which they have received, such as the proper way to wash cups, pots, copper bowls, and beds.
When Jesus came, he warned His disciples against religious leaders who forced empty rituals upon people in the name of God. Let me quote to you about this from
Matthew 16:6 (Jesus to His disciples)
Jesus said to them, “Take care; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
As thousands of people crowded together, so that they were stepping on each other, Jesus said first to his disciples, “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees — I mean their hypocrisy.
Note: The Sadducees recognized only the written letter of the Tanakh or Torah (laws) and rejecting life after death, while the Pharisees held to their own interpretations additional to the written texts (Old Testament).
To keep you in the loop, Yeast are specie of fungi. They are used often in the baking of bread. When the dough of the bread is ready a small amount of yeast is mixed in and the dough is left for some time, the dough then raises (become bigger) without increasing in matter.
This is what Jesus warned His disciples about, about the Pharisees and Sadducees. The teachings of Pharisees and Sadducees were like that little yeast added to God’s Word in order to burden people. They were like people who liked to be in control of common men. This yeast was to puff up their pride as religious leaders without adding any substance to it. Earlier in the Old Testament God (Jesus) spoke ahead to Moses [much before He (Jesus) arrived here on earth] & asked for unleavened (without yeast) bread offerings.
Leviticus 8:26 (Moses’ offering to the Lord during the ordination of Aaron and his sons)
Then he took one loaf of bread from the basket of unleavened bread dedicated to the Lord, one loaf made with oil, and one biscuit, and he put them on top of the fat and the right hind leg.
Moses said to Aaron and his two remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering that is left over from the food offered to the Lord, make unleavened bread with it and eat it beside the altar, because this offering is very holy.
Jesus (God) never wanted bread with yeast as an offering because He (Jesus) foresaw and knew that the yeast symbolized what would be added to His word (Old Testament) and the end product would be something that was not His. Allow me to support this with some more scripture; this is Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees in regards to the same topic.
6 Jesus answered them, “How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote:
‘These people, says God, honour me with their words,
but their heart is really far away from me.
7 It is no use for them to worship me,
because they teach human rules
as though they were God’s laws!’
8 “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”
9 And Jesus continued, “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching.
Note: Isaiah is a prophet of the Old Testament.
Reading all this, you might now not have a very good opinion about such religious leaders but all through time there have been people like these, before & after Jesus coming, people who have enslaved people in the name of their god & with the idea of maintaining ritual cleanliness. The rules that such religious leaders; have burdened their people with, range right from eating, drinking, dressing, worship, washing, praying and even using the toilet. These may sound ridiculous from a secular point of view but this is real life stuff. Would you like to know as to what Jesus says about spiritual cleanliness?
14 Then Jesus called the crowd to him once more and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15 There is nothing that goes into a person from the outside which can make him ritually unclean. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that makes him unclean.”
17 When he left the crowd and went into the house, his disciples asked him to explain this saying. 18 “You are no more intelligent than the others,” Jesus said to them. “Don’t you understand? Nothing that goes into a person from the outside can really make him unclean, 19 because it does not go into his heart but into his stomach and then goes on out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared that all foods are fit to be eaten.)
20 And he went on to say, “It is what comes out of a person that makes him unclean. 21 For from the inside, from a person’s heart, come the evil ideas which lead him to do immoral things, to rob, kill, 22 commit adultery, be greedy, and do all sorts of evil things; deceit, indecency, jealousy, slander, pride, and folly — 23 all these evil things come from inside a person and make him unclean.”
What I would like you to gather from all this is that, there is freedom in Jesus freedom not only from empty rituals but also freedom from sin.
Colossians 2:6-8….20-23 (Apostle Paul to the Church of Colossae)
6 Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. 7 Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.
8 See to it, then, that no one enslaves you by means of the worthless deceit of human wisdom, which comes from the teachings handed down by human beings and from the ruling spirits of the universe, and not from Christ.
20 You have died with Christ and are set free from the ruling spirits of the universe. Why, then, do you live as though you belonged to this world? Why do you obey such rules as 21 “Don’t handle this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t touch the other”? 22 All these refer to things which become useless once they are used; they are only human rules and teachings. 23 Of course such rules appear to be based on wisdom in their forced worship of angels, and false humility, and severe treatment of the body; but they have no real value in controlling physical passions.
Since this is true, how much more is accomplished by the blood of Christ! Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will purify our consciences from useless rituals, so that we may serve the living God.
For sin pays its wage — death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.
So this message like all the other messages comes to the same conclusion; come to Jesus and know Him for who is, in doing so have freedom and a healthy relationship with Almighty God (Father Son and Holy Spirit). This is something infinitely more than rituals as empty as a telephone “Hello”.
Psalms 146:7 (Old Testament)
he judges in favour of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free
Romans 3:24 (New Testament)
But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.