Matthew 15 and Mark 7 are parallel accounts of Jesus confronting the Pharisees regarding observing religious rituals but not following the commandments of God. They thought that eating with unwashed hands defiled a man, but Jesus taught that it is not what goes in through the mouth that defiles, but what comes out of the mouth, because it comes from the heart.
Jesus then travels to the region of Tyre and Sidon where he frees the daughter of a Canaanite woman from a demon because of the woman’s faith. From there he travels around the Sea of Galilee, healing a great many people who were brought to him lame, blind, mute and maimed.
“So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matt 15:31).
After three days, Jesus felt pity for the crowds because they had not eaten. He took seven loaves and some fish that the disciples brought to him, gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to distribute. In all four thousand men, plus women and children, ate until they were full and the disciples collected seven large baskets full of the leftovers.
Today’s Nourishment: When Peter asks Jesus to explain the meaning of His saying that what goes in through the mouth does not defile a man, Jesus answers: “…whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated … those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matt 15:17-20; see Mark 7:18-23).
This was a revolutionary idea to those who heard Jesus. They were strict keepers of the law, but Jesus pointed out that many of their laws did not come from the commandments of God, but had been added by men. Then, He went further: observing religious rituals meant nothing if their hearts were not right. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, saying,
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:7-9).
Every time I read these passages, my heart trembles at the thought that I might worship God with my mouth while my heart is far from Him. In addition to the “evil thoughts” listed in Matthew, Mark 7:21-22 lists covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, pride and foolishness. I examine myself in light of these and ask the Holy Spirit to help me to identify and confess anything in my heart that displeases my Lord. Then, I thank Him for His grace and the mercy, which He extends to me.
Intentionally draw near to Jesus for a few moments to examine your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what’s in your heart. Now, listen for what the Holy Spirit speaks to you.
Share what’s on your heart today.
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