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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


What Question Would You Ask?

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” (Mark 7:5-7, NIV)

We are often defined in life by the questions we ask or the issues we raise. If you had a chance to ask Jesus a question, what would it be?

There are a lot of things I would ask Him:

• Why do good people suffer?

• What is heaven like?

• When will the world end?

• How can I overcome temptation and sin?

Of course, the Scripture itself holds answers to these questions, but it would have been wonderful to listen to the Lord answer me in direct conversation.

The rich young ruler asked the greatest question of all: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). The Pharisees and teachers of the Law never came close to asking anything of that importance.

But legalists always concentrate on the letter of the Law. They are not interested in the big questions. Their worldview is so fixed that all they can see are the minutiae — the tiny deviations from their prescribed orthodoxy. Any who live outside their box are deemed heretics. There is no grace in legalism.

These critics of Jesus totally miss out on the greatest opportunity ever given on planet Earth — the chance to interview the Son of God on the biggest issues of life — eternity, salvation, suffering and death.

As a result of their nit-picking they never get a picture of who Jesus really is.

Their bad example teaches us not to miss the most important things in our own walk with God. We must never get focused on the trivial and unimportant, or let our preferences be elevated to matters of principle. We need to give ourselves to people and issues that are on the Lord’s heart rather than spending our time on tangential and marginal matters that may attract us, but have no eternal value.

How did Jesus respond to them? Interestingly — by not stating His own opinion — although as the Son of God He had the complete right to do so. He relies on Scripture. His basis for dealing with His critics is the written Word.

Eight centuries earlier Isaiah had his own critics to deal with — so Jesus takes Isaiah’s words and applies them to His contemporary opponents. Jesus’ words from Isaiah form a searing indictment against the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. He describes them as “hearts far from me” and “worship me in vain.” In effect, Jesus says to them: “You’re nowhere even close to God despite all your pretense.”

Let’s be careful to never place observance to ritual over our relationship with the Lord and others. It’s an easy temptation to think that our performance of religious duties — such as church attendance, tithing, prayer or Bible study — is acceptable without a vital relationship with Christ. No! Those means of spiritual growth are the outcome of our walk with Him, not a substitute; they are a means and not an end.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me to keep the plain things as the main things and the main things as the plain things. When I’m tempted to major on minors, may Your Holy Spirit pull me back to the essentials of what it means to truly follow You.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years

2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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