Sunday School Material 5-18-14: Jesus' Teaching on the Law

(Matthew 15:1-11; 15-20; 5/18/14)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Jesus teaches about having a clean and dedicated heart, instead of simply focusing on traditions. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to focus on having clean and dedicated hearts, instead of simply following after traditions.

Body:

Read Matthew 15:1-2

I. Accusation. Some Pharisees and teachers of the law came from Jerusalem to challenge Jesus. They challenged Him by asking Him questions. The question in our Sunday School material is concerned with the tradition of ceremonial hand washing.

Applications -

- The devil’s attack of leaders and helpers. Notice in vss. 1-2 that helpers are often attacked, when the devil chooses not to attack the leader. If you are a helper, strive to be strong enough to keep the devil from using you.

If you are not a helper or a leader, pray for the strength of those in leadership. The devil has a way of continuously accusing and attacking, until he finds a way to cause trouble for not just the leader but for the entire body of Christ. Let’s work on keeping the devil from bring down our leaders.

Read Matthew 15:3-9

II. Rebuke. Jesus counters the challenge. Jesus talks about how the Pharisees and teachers of the law are making God’s law of no effect because they are substituting their traditions for truth.

An example regarding the honoring of one’s parents is given. In our Sunday School material a text from Isaiah is used to further support Jesus’ point.

Applications -

- Traditions and truth. Notice in vs. 3-6 that Jesus deals with the issue of tradition being subordinate to truth. On one hand, traditions can be good. Could you imagine serving communion and doing baptism in different ways every month?

But on the other hand, tradition becomes destructive, when it interferes with our living by the truth.

For example, there may be at least some aesthetic or visual value to Deacons and Preachers wearing black suits and Deaconesses wearing white dresses on the first Sunday; however, if dressing down will help more people get saved then we should be open to pursing the greater good.

As much as we may love our old school songs, if new school songs will help us evangelize the new then we should be open to at least trying it. Let’s make sure we keep truth well above our traditions.

- Take care of your parents. Notice in vs. 4 the idea of taking care of your parents. On one hand, children who are doing well in life should not allow their parents to be out on the streets.

On the other hand, the practice of this principle gets a little fuzzy. Who comes first, the parent or the spouse and children? What do you do when the parent feels so entitled to their children’s wealth that they stop trying to do the best that they can for themselves?

Let’s seek the wisdom and spiritual courage to live by the principle of taking care of our parents. In the meantime, every believer should strive to be a wise steward of his/her resources, so that he/she can take care of his/herself.

- Worshipping with lips and life. Notice in vss. 7-9 of our Sunday School material that lip and life need to be aligned, when it comes to worship. On one hand, God doesn’t want us to sit like bumps on a log, in worship.

On the other hand, God doesn’t want us shouting around the sanctuary, while living willfully sinful lives. For example, we should not be known for enthusiastic worship and being mean towards one another and stingy towards God.

Furthermore, there are times when God sharply rebukes those who deserve it. Let’s work on worshipping God with our lips and lives, so we can avoid being rebuked.

Read Matthew 15:10-11, 15-20

III. Clarification. In our Sunday School material Jesus explains that it is not what goes into a person’s stomach that defiles them. It is what comes out of the person’s mouth and heart that defiles a person.

Jesus chastises His disciples’ dull understanding. He gives them further elaboration on the principle.

Applications -

- Our hearts/minds vs. our diets. Notice in vss. 10-11, 15-20 that our hearts/minds have more to do with our being defiled than our diets. It is so important for us to work on feeding our minds the word of God and then work hard to live by what we have learned.

When we are defiled on the inside, we will be defiled on the outside. When we are pure on the inside, we will live pure lives. We need the word of God in us to live pure lives. Let’s work on prayerfully studying and obeying God’s word.

We should not use this text to justify poor dietary choices. The point of the text is to work on our hearts/minds. The point of the Sunday School material is not to ignore the value of fruits, vegetables, water, and rest.

- Talking down to Peter. Notice in vs. 16 the Jesus chastises Peter because Jesus expected Peter to know better. To whom much is given, much is required. The longer we come to church, the more we study God’s word, and the longer we have been on the Christian journey, the more God expects out of us.

When God’s expectations are not met, He has a track record of chastising. Some may say that He talked down to Peter. Let’s work on living up to God’s expectations, instead of arguing about His method of discipline.

Conclusion: Let’s work on having clean and dedicated hearts, instead of simply following after traditions.  God has much for those who obey His will.

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