Letter and Spirit

Day 59

Prayer for the day

Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

Scripture for the day

Numbers 20-22, Mark 7:1-13

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.

Everywhere I hear that people like Jesus but are sick of religion, and this is exactly what they’re talking about. They dislike hypocrisy, they dislike trappings, they dislike the theological nit-picking, the straining of gnats, and the knowledge-based faith assertions. They like Jesus.

They don’t like how unlike Jesus much of what they see in the church really is.

Jesus wasn’t so keen on it either.

Jesus’ concern with the religious leaders of his day was not that they did’t do things right. It’s that they did the right things for the wrong reasons. And sometimes they did the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

Moses and Aaron learned that lesson the hard way. God told them both to speak to a rock, and water would gush out of the rock in order to satisfy the insatiable Israelites. Instead, they stuck to what had worked before, they stuck to theatrics, they stuck to what they knew. And the suffered for it.

It seems cruel of God to punish Moses and Aaron so severely for a simple transgression, but the word of God rings in condemnation: “you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites.”

Their sin was not just theatrics, and not just a foolish mistake. Their sin was that their actions showed a distrust in the character and power of God, and so in refusing to trust, they dishonoured God and His holiness. In effect, they dared to think that God couldn’t do what God said He would do. They tried to take the power of God out of God’s hands. And they paid for it.

The religious leaders did the same thing. They took the power to save and purify out of God’s hands and held it in their rules, laws, and rituals. They took the spirit of the law and substituted the letter. And JEsus rebuked them in the same vein.

May our words and actions show dedication to Christ and to him only. MAy our churches and our lives be devoid of empty ritual and full of the Spirit of the living God!


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