Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:25-26
Pam doesn’t often comment on the news. Even so, about a week ago she called me away from my computer and asked me to take a look at the story that was being shown on a local television news station. Perhaps you saw it, too. It had to do with a restaurant in Manhattan, which had set the Guinness world record for having the world’s most expensive dessert.
The dessert featured a blend of 28 cocoas mixed together with .2 ounces of edible 23-karat gold and was being served for the staggering price of $25,000.00. Of course you got more than that for your money. The sugary concoction features a gold bracelet with some diamonds, more edible gold and some truffles, which are marketed for about $2,600 a pound. Turning away from the TV, I called out over my shoulder, “Well, there goes your anniversary present.” She gave me a dirty look.
A few weeks ago, I resisted the temptation to speak about the costly confection in the Daily Devotions. Today, I can resist no longer. I can’t resist because the restaurant that made that dessert has been temporarily closed. Health officials found a live mouse, evidence of more live mice, and dozens of equally energetic cockroaches.
When I heard that story, it occurred to me how little things had changed since the time our Savior talked to the scribes and Pharisees about the foolishness inherent in cleaning the outside of a cup and leaving the inside filthy. It was the same day He spoke to them about graves, which look good and are whitewashed on the outside, but inside are filled with dead men’s bones. Either way you say it, the lesson is the same.
Jesus wanted people to know that while they often are primarily preoccupied with looking good on the outside, God is far more concerned with having us look good, that is, be forgiven, on the inside. Knowing that there is no make-up, no plastic surgery that can effectively beautify our inner hearts, Jesus came into this world to save us. His birth in Bethlehem signals His willingness to take upon Himself all of our sinful ugliness.
Now, because of what the Savior has done through His life, death, and resurrection, all who believe on Him can be, and are saved. Knowing God’s gracious plan the Christmas angels announced they had “good news of great joy.” Jesus is God’s Good News and because of His loving sacrifice Paul was able to write: “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
THE PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, this Advent and always may I give thanks for my Savior who has taken away the ugliness of my sin and has given me a clean heart. In His Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries