“How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking. 26 Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too” (Matthew 23:25-26, Common English Bible).
I have mentioned before that I was very involved in Scouting when I was a kid. A kid in Scouting usually means a camping kid. I learned, sometimes the hard way, how to cook on an open fire, with a Dutch oven, or a reflector oven. I learned you can control the temperature in a Dutch oven with remarkable accuracy based on a number of coals placed under and on top of the oven. I learned how to do some pretty amazing things. I can cook bacon and eggs in a paper bag, boil water in a paper cup and I can make a full meal including bread and dessert with either a Dutch oven or a reflector oven.
Cooking was always the good duty roster spot. Gathering the firewood was a spot most of us didn’t mind too much. The one everybody ran from was having to do the dishes after the meal. I never liked doing the dishes at home, even with a dishwasher. I certainly didn’t want to wash dishes in a bucket with water hauled in and heated on an open fire.
The problem really wasn’t the inside of the dishes. That usually cleaned up fairly easily. The problem was the outside of the pots and pans. If you look at the picture above, you can see the black built up on the pot. It comes from the open fire. It is usually much worse with pine than with a hardwood. Having done much of my camping in the piney woods of East Texas, pine was a quite common fire material to use. And, as you can see from the picture, it would leave the pots and pans black.
That might not have been much of a problem except someone usually had the bright idea that the pots and pans needed to look new on the outside. It wasn’t going to happen. No matter how much scrubbing you did, there would be black that just wouldn’t come off. There were tricks that made things easier. There were ways to get much of the black off, but all of it? No way!
Sometimes it seemed like my patrol leader or some adult who was in camp with us would insist that the black is taken off. It sometimes seemed as though that adult was far more interested in the outside of the pot than with the inside where the food would actually touch.
It is just this Jesus is talking about in our lesson. What difference does it make if the outside of a cup or plate is clean if the eating surface has food stuck to it if that cup or plate is unclean on the inside?
For a people who were obsessed with being “clean,” these Pharisees and legal experts certainly fell short in Jesus’ when it came to cleaning up after dinner. What Jesus is actually doing is using the dishes as a metaphor for them and even for us.
We can look good. You can dress in the finest clothes. You can get your clothes tailor made. You can wear a $300 pair of shoes and a $500 suit. You may look really good. You may even impress some people with how good you look. But, if you are a rotten person, if you forget to live out the justice, peace, and faith we talked about yesterday, all the first class clothes in the world will not change you from a rotten person into a righteous person. For that, there is a need for a heart transplant, not from a doctor but from the Great Physician.
Do your insides match your outsides?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved