What goes in...

In our first 21 verses from yesterday, Jesus takes the criticism of the Pharisees and religious scholars and turns it right back on them, pointing out how they have abused the law. They had to realize He new that they were now trying to use it against him. Personally, the law and the Book of Leviticus can sometimes make my head hurt; I can’t imagine trying to actually live it out to the letter. Yet Jesus is able to live out the law perfectly in the eyes of God. He respects the law but is able to use it to bring about a change and, most importantly, a focus on God. What is that focus? I love the title The Message Bible gives to this passage: “What Pollutes Your Life”. Jesus knows that, as humans, what we put in our heart and mind directs what comes out of our mouths and actions.

With kids, we often talk about this concept as a recipe. If you put vinegar into your cookie dough batter, you’re cookies aren’t gonna’ taste they like should when all is said and done. This is why we are to take heed of these words in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”

This chapter then takes us to an act of great faith as we witness a Canaanite women’s fight for her daughter. We rarely see Jesus turn anyone away and yet, here, it seems that is what is happening. What a test of faith this turns out to be. What I take from this passage is more than just faith put to test, but a message about who Jesus is here for. He came “the lost sheep of Israel”, but stretched His arms on the cross of all of mankind. His love, mercy, forgiveness and grace know no barriers of race, culture or heritage. He is available to all who will seek and submit, no matter the personal struggle or cost.


  1. Lori, once again very powerful words! I appreciate your insight and the message of faith, "put to the test". The depth and breadth of this call to serve Christ in faithfulness is what struck me in Chapter 16:

    “Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

    What cost is committed discipleship to Jesus Christ? It is a commitment to invest one’s very life. In Matthew 16:24 – 28 the well known words “take up your cross and follow me” are spoken. In delving into this further, it becomes clear that sacrifice unto death is the price that we are ultimately being asked to pay. Even in the world of evangelical Christendom, we often conveniently relegate the “take up his cross” command to acceptable acts of sacrifice that allow us to comfortably state that we are committed followers (the typical “dos and don’ts” of moral living). I am convicted by the fact that among our brethren and sisters in Christ around the world, that in many cases their heed to the call to take up their cross is life threatening or at least extracts a price in terms of some measure of freedom, personal suffering or even death. What wonderful freedoms we enjoy that we do not have to hide from the threat of retaliation of a regime/government bent on limiting the freedom of worship!

    Although it is not popular and perhaps contra to the “feel good” of the pop-culture Christianity that is often spoon fed to our contemporaries in North America, the call to take up our cross is a profound and serious mandate. It is difficult but I believe we have to cross the bridge of understanding the deep and perhaps emotionally troubling aspect of “losing our life” (in the natural sense) and in so doing understand and embrace that we are gaining in Christ. Easily said, not easily accepted or lived out.

    It strikes me that the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that we enjoyed this past Sunday are so poignant to this end. At the end of this inspiring speech he exhorts to “let freedom ring”, from every mountain top. I believe this freedom can only be experienced by humankind through the acceptance of, commitment to and the calling of Jesus Christ. I believe that is the “dream” of freedom that Christ envisioned for all of humanity.

  2. We enjoy that freedom without threat for now. We'll see how much longer it lasts.

    Okay, we arrived at a passage addressing the question about Old Testament law. In 15:11, 16-20 Jesus answered your question for you. Later this year we'll see Peter faces with the same issue of clean or unclean food in Acts 10:12.

    Okay, in 16:18 I learned that the location where this conversation was held, Caesarea Phillipi, had a "place of worship" called the "gates of hell". I think it was a cave like place where they believed they could access spirits or people who have died. I think those context kind of things are interesting.