“’What Jesus Would Undo”
“ Hollow Worship”
Sermon March 1, 2020
Matthew 15: 1-10
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus, you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand.
In Jesus time on earth, he wasn’t interested in token gestures, He didn’t care about outward behavior. But shook up anyone whose faith was lukewarm, because Jesus wanted to bring hope to the broken, the lost and those tangled in sin by showing them what true worship could be. In this new series we started on Ash Wednesday we will look at how we can take our worship to a new level. How our own efforts to reach out, to open up to discover the knots in our every-day lives that Jesus wants to undo.
What would Jesus undo “ Hollow Worship” By definition as an adjective
“ having a hole or empty space inside”
These Pharisees that Jesus calls out were obsessed with ceremonial cleanliness. They were devout Jews obsessed with rituals and ceremonial shows within the synagogue. They had taken all of the traditional costumes and turned them into required actions that they also made into laws. Laws that they themselves did not follow. Jesus knew this and so called them hypocrites for a good reason.
The Pharisees were obsessed with externals a show of piety. Their actions their worship was indeed Hollow, empty and Vain. They praised God but their hearts were far from God.
Jesus in his many encounters with Jewish leaders would expose how they were nothing but hollow beings.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but, on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Woe !
Jesus unleashes on the Jewish leaders, he states, you’re not even treating people with respect. You’re not even showing love to other people. Your hearts aren’t even connected with God, and here you are obsessing about all these externals when internally, you are so far from being right.
Jesus is stating facts that must of broke his own heart!
- They give me lip service, but their hearts are not right.
- How do they worship me ? ….in vain!
- It is worship that does not touch my heart!
We have such a loving God that he never gave up trying never stop loving us all. Including his enemies
But the leaders wanted nothing at all with this or of him!
Even their prayers are hollow!
They were above the laws and customs that they made everyone else follow. Their own worship was Hollow for a show. Even when they prayed, they had to have an audience.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Ok, we talk about the Pharisees all being bad, that was not so. We do have good examples of good in Nikodemus or Joseph of Arimathea. We have to understand that Jesus wanted to undo what the Pharisees were teaching. He wanted all of them to follow him. Even as they were is enemies, he wanted them to follow his way. Just as he wants us to follow him. But are we too slow to give our heart and souls to Jesus as well?
So, what if the songs that we sing, the sermons that we preach, and the act of service that we do are often empty gifts to God?
What if our lives so wrapped up in this world that offers so much distraction that our hearts are far from God?
What if our lives are wrapped up with a spiritual image on the outside but sometimes on the inside, because our mind is on other things, we are far from God?
So, let’s talk about worship, most people think about music, the style, or the environment. There are so many styles of worship, does it really matter to God? For what he so wants is our Hearts our hunger for him to follow his way.
So how do we move into a higher level of worship—in our personal lives and
corporately here at Risen Christ? Answering that question is more complex
than you might think. But it is extremely important to find answers to the
question. If I was to ask for a show of hands this morning, how many would
like to go to a higher level of worship, I suspect we would have 100%
There are enormous benefits of entering into depths of worship. But what
does it take to get there? Let’s look at some of what Jesus could undo in our own efforts to worship everyday worship not just on Sunday!
The real issue with worship is not an external issue. The real issue is heart
So, in John 4:23 Jesus gives perhaps the most essential principle
of worship. He said in John 4: 23 the women at the well
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the
true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is
seeking such to worship Him”.
John Verse 4: 24
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
If you don’t get this one right, all the other conversations about worship will
not matter much. Worship springs from the heart. Worship must happen
between an Individual’s spirit and the Spirit of God. Otherwise it just
becomes an empty form—a form of godliness without the power of the Holy Spirit in it (sounding brass and clanging cymbals).
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Amplified adds in “reality.” This is perhaps the most profound, essential
statement that could be made about worship. It’s not just a matter of doing
it in the right location or having all the right methods.
-- Worship is out of the heart of the believer it comes through and only through the Holy Spirit. -----
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had gone to great lengths to
orchestrate worship at the temple. Hundreds of people attended their
services. Yet Jesus (quoting Isaiah) said of them, "These people draw near
to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far
Matthew 15: 9 And in vain they worship Me….” It’s vain; it’s
empty; it’s useless. They are doing the right moves; they are doing the right
things physically—but I’m looking on the heart and (in reality) worship is not happening!
So, the crucial mistake we must avoid is majoring on externals and missing
the most fundamental issue of all. What is the heart condition? Are people
really honoring God from the heart, or are they just mouthing the right words?
God stands at the door waiting to give us so much more that we can ever expect to our every day lives. Write this down and look this up this afternoon.
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper ,and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
That’s why I want to begin with the foundations of worship that go on in the
heart. This will not be exhaustive; but it should address the issue.
Two foundations of worship:
I. Worship flows out of one’s REVELATION of who God is.
Jesus confronted the Woman at the Well with this statement. John 4:22 “You
worship what you do not know….” The fundamental problem in your worship
is not an external thing like location. The fundamental problem is that you
don’t know God for who He is. Of course, this is the ultimate statement for a
person who is dead in trespasses and sin.
A person who does not know God at all is not going to be able to worship
“in spirit and in truth.” But we are all limited in our worship by our revelation
of God. We can only appreciate Him for what we know of Him. We can only
adore His attributes to the extent we spiritually perceive those attributes.
Have you been a partaker of His grace? Then you can praise Him for the
grace you have experienced. Head knowledge may be a good beginning; but
worship from the heart comes out of experience. Experience that comes
differently for each of us. The experience of Joy and peace that is from the
The rock of Christ that is Love and most of all forgiveness for
each time that we fall down. We are all here because the Lord speaks to us
and wants to draw you near to him. God the Father God the Son and God
the Holy Spirit is here now in this very place this morning. God will be with
you throughout today tonight and for an eternity of days. Worship is not the
just the song we sing or the words we say alone it is the life that we live out
by following his example daily. To fully understand the grace, mercy and
gifts he has given to you and to me. Our loving families, the gift of a career,
your health your very life. If you really take time to truly understand how
gifted, you really are you will want to dance like King David
( With clothes on !)
Let’s recite Psalm 27 1-14
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall, I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.