Don’t you hate it when you pick up a cup or dish to use and it is dirty on the inside? Jesus uses this image in the passage we are about to read.
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
Have you ever picked up a cup that looks beautiful and clean on the outside then go to make a cup of tea and realise the cup is dirty and grimy inside? I have and it wasn’t fun. It was frustrating that it wasn’t actually useful for its intended use, and needed cleaning before it could be used.
This is one of the pictures Jesus uses in this passage to describe the Pharisees. They are doing all of the right actions and as such look like they are clean, but on the inside, they are full of greed and wickedness, and they neglect justice and the love of God. We can be like this too. We can be doing all the things it might look like to be a Christian: going to Church, being kind to others, tithing/giving money to the work of the gospel; but on the inside we haven’t actually let Jesus make us clean. It’s not that we shouldn’t be doing these things, but they should all be flowing from a changed heart. We need our hearts to be cleaned by Jesus so that we are useful cups for the service of God.
Head: What do you think about the rebuke Jesus is giving the Pharisees here? How would you feel if you were one of the people he was speaking to here? Do you think you are one of the people Jesus is speaking to?
Heart: Has your heart been cleansed by Jesus? Do you need to let him in to clean you up today?
Hands: How can you practice justice and the love of God today with the people around you, shaped by a heart that is cleansed by Jesus?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thanks for sending your one and only son, Jesus, to die on the cross to take on my sin and shame so that I can be made clean. I know I can’t do any actions to try to cleanse myself, only you can clean my heart so please help me to not rely on my own strength or actions but to rely on your love for me. Please help me to live my life in a way that loves others with the love you have poured out on me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: Made Alive
Emily Andrews – Living Church City South