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Unclean


Matthew 15 is part of our reading this week. In the beginning of this chapter, we find the Pharisees and scribes questioning why Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands when they ate bread. These Pharisees and scribes were so scared of being contaminated (by Gentiles?) that their elders had set up rules about washing when eating.  Jesus first responds by asking why they break the commandments of God. Which is worse? I hope we all understand that breaking God’s commandments is worse than breaking man’s rules.

 

Next, Jesus teaches that it is not what goes into the mouth (food) that causes us to be unclean but that which comes out of the mouth. Food that goes into the mouth is digested and eliminated, but what comes out of the mouth shows what is in our heart. The things that are in our heart (mind) find their way into our lives. That can come in the way we speak or act. Things like murder, adultery, and lying can show what is in our heart. We need to be careful about what we put into our heart (mind) because those things can come out in our life. Putting food in our bodies does not defile us, but what we watch, listen to, and participate in can put things in our heart that can defile us. As the song says, “O be careful little eyes what you see, o be careful little ears what you hear, o be careful little feet where you go, and o be careful little hands what you do.” I do not want a defiled heart that defiles my life and is unpleasing to Jesus.

 

The Pharisees and scribes were offended at Jesus’ teachings. Why? Probably because he had condemned some of their lifestyle. It is easy to get offended when I am confronted with wrong that I am doing, but what good does that do? If I get angry that someone tells me my answer to two plus two is five is wrong and refuse to fix it, I have made two mistakes. The second worse than the first. What will I do (you do) with Jesus’ teaching here?

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