Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.
The Pharisees questioned Jesus; they wanted to know when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus replied that the kingdom of God does not come with careful observation, but that the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20- 21) Can you imagine the Pharisees as they considered what Jesus had said?
They were the religious leaders of the day, the ones who had all of the answers concerning spiritual issues, and yet they were being confronted with an answer that ran contrary to the very core of their religious conduct. Up until that point, they had been espousing God’s law and seeing to it that the Jewish people did not disregard the law. Jesus, observing their behavior, recognized that they were more concerned with the law, the external religious rules, than the internal issues of the heart. (Matthew 23:25) In Matthew 15,
Jesus confronts the Pharisees and teachers of the law with their traditions and rules. He explains that they should be more concerned about breaking the higher commands of God than in trying to keep their traditions.
This is an indictment on us today as well as we divide ourselves on issues of tradition and disregard the spiritual issues that are going on in us internally, like evil thoughts, slander, and sexual immorality. (Matthew 15:19)
It is tempting to focus on the external, but Jesus challenges us today to examine our hearts to insure that we are clean before God.
Help me to be more concerned with internal issues of my heart than with external religious rules. Transform my life so that I can be more like You and help me to have a pure heart.
In Jesus’ name, Amen