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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

INWARD CLEANNESS

Luke 11:37-40 And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also?

It seems strange that, immediately after Jesus reproved and condemned the scribes and Pharisees for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of God, that one of their own would invite Jesus to dine with him. What the intentions of this Pharisee was, we are not given. However it appears that doing so was not out of respectful hospitality. Neither was it to gain further knowledge of Jesus' gospel of repentance and the impending establishment of God's kingdom on earth. The true reason he did so seems to be that he wanted to find additional reasons to find fault with Jesus, destroy His reputation, and condemn Him for falsely claiming to be the promised Messiah. Never the less, Jesus did, indeed, accept the invitation from the Pharisee, went in, and sat down to meat. By His actions on this occasion, Jesus established a wonderful lesson for all Christians today. Although we are to be extremely cautious with whom we associate, still we are not to shun any opportunity that presents itself, to go out into the world, seek, and teach those that have minds receptive to the gospel of salvation through Christ Jesus.

Immediately after He was seated, the Pharisee found fault with Jesus. He marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. It might be in order to acknowledge that there were occasions God required the Jews to wash themselves as well as many other articles. The high priests were to consecrate themselves by washing their entire bodies on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:4). The feet and hands of all priests were to be washed daily before administering required tabernacle rites (Ex. 30:18-20). Washings were required of all Jews that came in contact with things that were considered to be unclean. In all of these instances, as well as in many others, God-required washings for spiritual cleanness. Although it is recommended for health reasons, nowhere in God's word does He require washing for physical cleanness.

The washing of the body after entering the market place and interacting with the merchants, as well as washing the hands (thought to be merely dipping the hands into a bowl of water) before eating, were man-made laws established by scribes and other spiritual leaders of the Jews. They are not found in the Mosaic Law. Realizing the Pharisee was living under a misinterpretation of Old Testament law, Jesus used the occasion to emphasize and establish an extremely important spiritual law of God. The Jews had taken a rule that was customarily practiced and turned it into a ceremonial law that, by tradition of the elders, was required to be pleasing to Jehovah. This brought an admonishment from Jesus: Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

Referring to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus, at a later time, denounced them in a similar manner, as recorded by Matthew: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess (Matt. 23:25). It is well known that this sanctimonious class of Jews observed the outward letter of the law, and often they did so to satisfy their ego by being seen of others. Indeed, they diligently observed the purification laws by thoroughly washing the physical items used in their worship services - the outside of the cup and of the platter. However, there was little attention given to the inward cleanness of the heart and mind, that is, the desire to serve God in humble service to all mankind, both Jew and Gentile. Their "religious practices" placed emphasis on the outward appearance, which could be seen by men and women, instead of cleansing their inward soul from sin, which could be seen only by God. Physically these Jews were extremely clean, but spiritually they were filled with ravening and wickedness, or as Matthew said, filled with extortion and excess. Admonishing them for their lack of judgment, Jesus said, Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also? God not only made the bodies of all men and women of the world, but He also made their souls. Human wisdom tells us to keep our bodies clean, but the wisdom of God requires inward cleanness - cleansing our souls of all wickedness, moral depravity, evil, and sin.