Our reading comes today from Matthew, chapter 15:
I had a hard time with this passage today. I couldn’t quite see the message, or the whole story. It looked fragmented to me. However, I have meditated on it and let it rest with me for a while, and now maybe I am beginning to see. I would love to hear your view on this passage, if you are willing to share.
It seems to me that Jesus is showing us the world of contradiction that we (you and I) are currently living in. The first half of the chapter deals with the Jews, God’s chosen people. These were the folks steeped in tradition and following all the rules that good church people do.
The second half of the chapter deals with people (both Jews and Gentiles) that are in deep need of Jesus’ powerful touch. They need healing and feeding in the worst way, and they come begging and desperate.
This second group, they know they need a savior. They recognize their needs for healing and restoration. AND, they are willing to do whatever is necessary to get it. The woman throws away all her pride and keeps coming back, even after she is insulted by Jesus and sent away. The crowds show up and wait for up to three days, hungry and desperate, just for a touch of the masters hand. Because they have probably tried everything else.
In contrast, the religious authorities, the disciples, the good church folks – they think they are alright. They are doing everything they are supposed to, right? Then Jesus begins talking about a “heart condition.” He keeps emphasizing that it isn’t empty religious practice that gets us right with God, but a holy heart. He tries to break through those walls that have been built up around the church, to show them that they too are in need of healing, but they don’t understand.
This first group doesn’t even realize they are sick because they aren’t showing any outward signs of illness. So they have a hard time accepting what Jesus is saying to them. Compare them to the other group, grasping at every word uttered by the Savior, because they are at the end of their ropes.
I believe that Jesus is saying to me today, that I need to recognize my own brokeness; my own need for healing. I am always very quick to testify to His healing power for “those out there.” But today He says to me, “Your heart condition is in need of transformation.” If I am willing to lay aside my pride and accept this gift, it will be miraculous. Or, I can keep going about my daily business here at church and lie to myself and you – saying that I am doing just fine.
The choice today is mine.
How I thank You for Your grace and mercy toward me. How I thank You that You have never left nor forsaken me. You accept me where I am, but You refuse to leave me here. Your plan for me is good. Forgive my prideful resistance to Your work in my life. Your love sometimes cuts deep into the heart of my life, exposing those things that I would rather keep hidden.
Cloak me in humility, that I might be accepting of all the transformation You have for me. Help me to face the truth about myself, that I might be set free by Your healing touch. And allow me the integrity to testify to the world about the work You are doing with me.
In the name of the Great Healer I pray,