Matthew 15:10-11 – LIKE A DUCK IN AN OIL-SPILL

Posted: April 13, 2013 in Matthew, Matthew 15
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Matthew 15:10-11 – POLLUTION

Like a Duck in an Oil Spill...  Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net. MorgueFiles and Filter Forge

Like a Duck in an Oil Spill…
Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net. MorgueFiles and Filter Forge

An acrid smell of damp coal lingers in the air and inflames her throat and nostrils, stinging her eyes. Handkerchief over her mouth and nose, she walks through the thick blanketing haze, discarding her third cigarette for the morning on the pavement, leaving it to smoulder unseen by those venturing out in what was to be known as “The Great Smog.” Just another Pea Souper.

The Great Smog, with its sulphur dioxide from chimney smoke and a host of other accumulated airborne pollutants defiled every corner of London in 1952, seeping into the respiratory system and extinguishing the flicker of life from over 12,000 people.

Grateful for some respite, Anna finally reaches her one bedroom apartment, but even as she opens the door the smog seems to invade the atmosphere inside the building with its hazy presence; sinister, dark and cold.

A report like a shotgun sounds as a train rumbles by near her building and she spills some of the precious hoard she is pouring into a glass. Cursing, she skulls the liquor, allowing it to bite the back of her throat. In the Great Smog, percussion caps were activated by the wheels of trains as an audible warning to the driver who was unable to see the signal. She feels like a duck in an oil spill unable to save herself from her own lifestyle.

Noise pollution, air pollution, radioactive pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, visual pollution. She lives in a polluted world.

Anna hesitates for a moment as she sees the small Bible on her desk given to her by a friend. She slowly opens it, only to be confronted by what Jesus speaks about as the greatest polluting influence of all. Personal pollution; the most contaminating force on the planet. He isn’t making a judgment about the contamination of her body and lifestyle by excessive smoking, drinking and drug abuse. He isn’t just speaking about the emotional and physical abuse she has experienced. He isn’t speaking of her poor living conditions. As bad as all these things are. He is speaking about a defiled heart; which expresses itself in defiling words gushing out like oil from a gashed tanker in pristine waters. Our words inevitably expose a heart polluted by our sin.

The Pharisees have polluted the environment for years with their teaching, traditions, and customs, but Jesus shows them that it will ultimately lead them to ruin.

Jesus calls to me in the crowd “… to come and hear. “Listen,” He says, “and try to understand.”” (Matthew 15:10 NLT) Hear Me above the noise pollution; the other voices that clamour for attention. His still, small voice is surprisingly clear. He says, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:11 NLT) “… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (Matthew 12:34 NLT). Toxins may have a devastating effect on my body, but what is expressed from my heart can have devastating effects on my ability to connect genuinely with God and others. Words won’t break bones, but they will break my relationships.

When Jesus speaks of the defiling nature of words He is not just speaking about openly hostile words; filthy language, critical, deceiving, censoring, harsh, unkind, uncaring words, but essentially any words, including sugar-coated venomous words, that despoil a relationship. “Defile” means “to make common; to make unholy, unclean; to become polluted and despoiled.” Jesus points to the religious leaders and says that it is they who are the pollution mongers. They wash their hands ceremonially while they ooze contaminated invective. It’s not food that defiles, but words that issue from a polluted heart.

In Hebrews 7:26 (NASB) Jesus is described as “…holy, innocent, undefiled,” Followers of Christ are invited to be like Jesus. God calls me to be clean, pure, holy, undefiled, spotless, unpolluted. Matthew 5:8 (NIV) says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

But like a duck in an oil spill, I cannot save myself. The only way I can have a pure heart is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who purifies my heart and washes away my sin. Psalms 51:7 (NLT) says “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” In Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) God says “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.” A divine exchange.

He takes my oily rags and clothes me in His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”   

Pastor Ross

 

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