In the fourth grade, I attended a Christian school where the Bible was regularly taught in the curriculum. I will never forget that one day our teacher began by holding up two styrofoam cups. One was filthy dirty on the outside and the other sparkling white. Our teacher with a pitcher of water next to her asked us, “Which cup would you like to drink out of?” Everyone in the class pointed to the sparkling white cup. So she grabbed the water and filled the sparkling white cup part of the way before handing it to one of the students in the front row.
“Yuck!! There is stuff floating inside,” was what that student said as she got ready to take a drink. Everyone in the class grew curious as to what happened. It was then that teacher poured water into the filthy dirty cup and began to walk around the room. As she did she showed the class the contents of each up. The sparkling white cup was filled with dirty and dark water and the cup that was filthy dirty was filled with crystal clear water. After walking around the room our teacher asked us again, “What cup would you like to drink out of?” In unison we all pointed to the dirty filthy cup filled with crystal clear water.
In many ways this was the message that Jesus had for the religous leaders in our reading today from Matthew 12. The chapter begins with two different passages where Jesus speaks to the fact that doing what is most honoring to God is more important that keeping the Law as they had interpreted it. Jesus specifically says in Matthew 12:7, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
This echoes multiple other passages where Jesus says that it what is inside or what is in the heart that matters most. We can put on a religous mask and make everything look great but it is what is in our hearts that’s demonstrates what we truly worship.
When it comes to our relationship with Jesus we understand that Jesus isn’t as concerned with our eloquence or the amount of knowledge we have, he is concerned with our obedience that flows out of a heart of love for God.
As you consider this in your own life today, which cup does your life most resemble? Do people see you as clean on the outside but you know there is deep sin on the inside? Or do you acknowledge your sinfulness on the outside but know that Jesus has forgiven you and made you clean on the inside?
May we discover Jesus as the soul cleansing, forgiving Savior and may we worship with all our hearts and lives.