Matthew 12:6, “I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.” (NIV)
Awareness. Recognition. Focus. There are moments in which God provides extraordinary truth through ordinary situations. Such moments should cause us to stop and appreciate God’s goodness. They should move us to be attentive to His presence. He is everything we need and everything we should long for. In Matthew 12:6, Jesus addressed mankind’s tendency to disregard the Lord’s presence. His message was stirring. Interestingly, Christ’s words were not directed to pagans; they were directed to the religious leaders – the ones who should have been the most mindful of God’s presence.
Many of the religious leaders in the gospel accounts resisted allowing God to lead their lives, or speak to their hearts. The Pharisees, in particular, made the organization of worship more important than the opportunity to worship a powerful, yet personal, God. In other words, they focused more on the structure of worship than the state of worship: humility. Christ underscored the fact that worship centers, including Jerusalem’s temple, were places to praise God, not perform for God. Adoration should not be presented to rituals or buildings; it should be offered to God Almighty.
Jesus implored the Pharisees to be mindful of their motives. They kept the temple in order, but not their hearts. They chose to relish the temple, rather than the treasure of the temple: God’s presence. God was standing before the Hebrew clergy in the form of Jesus. But their cold hearts refused to see it, or accept it. Sadly, a learned mind does not always connect to a receptive heart. At times, the religious leaders, per the New Testament accounts, used Scripture as a weapon of God, not a window to God. They memorized the Lord’s Word, but rarely practiced it. Even in God-honoring activities, we sometimes neglect maintaining the proper motivation and attitude. Apathetic worship does not honor an awesome God. And passionless worship does not glorify a prodigious God.
Matthew 12:6 reminds us that it is possible to shun God even as we serve Him. Whether intentionally, or unintentionally, we can dishonor God in the very tasks we undertake in His name. We must not allow ourselves to miss the significance of being with God as we do the work of God. We should approach God’s Word obediently, not hesitantly. We should work gratefully, not begrudgingly. Above all, we should be aware of the transcendent, eternal God, and cherish His presence.*
Kevin Orr (10/1/2018)
*This blog post is entirely extracted from portions of my self-published, now discontinued, book titled “Love Has Come: A Twenty-Eight Day Journey Through The Gospel Of Matthew”, which was originally published in 2010 (Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Group)