TO JERUSALEM – Magdala to Jerusalem
Wherever Jesus went there was always a large following. Cornelius started to note the presence of a tighter group of Pharisees and scribes among them. At first, they mostly observed and whispered among themselves, but lately, they have been increasingly confrontational. Just the week before, three of them from Jerusalem came up to Jesus and publicly demanded why he would allow his disciples and they used the word “transgress” the time honored traditions of the elders. Apparently, they observed some of the Twelve not washing their hands during a Sabbath meal.
[note: The scribes were the religious lawyers of the priesthood. The Pharisees were mostly rich fundamentalist and members of the leadership.]
To their surprise, Jesus started to chuckle and shake his head. A few others also started to laugh though Cornelius knew that they were not sure why. Jesus started to walk away still chuckling but they insisted that he answers them before the witnesses around them. He looks at them and again he had that same knowing smile. He whispers something to Peter, James and John. They started to push the crowd to form a circular area with the three angry Pharisees on one side and a calm Jesus on the other. Cornelius was reminded of another similar scene of the Prophet Elijah against four hundred Baal priests.
Then he answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
“For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’
“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,’ he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.”
“We are teachers of the Law!”
“You are hypocrites! How rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ “
The Pharisees were blustering for no one has ever dared spoken to them that way. They angrily pushed their way through the crowd and left.
Jesus called the crowd to come closer, He said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
Privately Judas Iscariot, who had a disturbed look, came up to Him and said, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended in what you said?”
But Jesus answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
[Matthew 15:1-14 NASB]
Cornelius now knew that he need not worry about the Zealots. For Jesus had just made a bigger enemy of the religious leaders of the land.
The story continues on in my next post.
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