Friday, February 12, 2010
"..this people draw near with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me" Isaiah 29:13
"So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him." John 11:53-57
The Jews truly hated the Lord Jesus. They should have embraced Him, and adored Him, but their hearts were hard, and they despised how His goodness and righteousness exposed their sin. And so they sought to kill Him.
Here's what John Charles Ryle has written on this passage of John's inspired words:
"We are told that many Jews "went up out of the country to Jerusalem, before the Passover, to purify themselves." The most of them, it may be feared, neither knew nor cared anything about inward purity of heart. They made much ado about the washings, and fastings, and ascetic observances, which formed the essence of popular Jewish religion in our Lord's time; and yet they were willing in a very few days to shed innocent blood. Strange as it may appear, these very sticklers for outward sanctification were found ready to do the will of the Pharisees, and to put their own Messiah to a violent death.
Extremes like this meeting together in the same person are, unhappily, far from uncommon. Experience shows that a bad conscience will often try to satisfy itself by a show of zeal for the cause of religion, while the "weightier matters" of the faith are entirely neglected. ....Let us settle it firmly in our minds that a religion which expends itself in zeal for outward formalities is utterless worthless in God's sight. The purity that God desires to see is not the purity of bodily washing and fasting, of holy water and self-imposed asceticism, but purity of heart. Will-worship and ceremonialism may "satisfy the flesh," but they do not tend to promote real godliness."
And the way the Lord cleanses and sanctifies our hearts is through His Word; which is His truth (John 17:17). Of all the teachings, philosophies, examples, theologies, doctrines, and experiences we glean from in this world and life, let us glean from the Holy Word of God more than all the others put together.
If we do, and we allow God's truth, and His Gospel, to flow through us, and even become embedded in our hearts and minds, then our hearts will be cleansed, and made pure. And love for Christ will grow, and that inturn will motivate us to love our neighbors, and even our enemies. And we love God the most, by loving the least of these.