From the heart

Some Pharisees and teachers of the law came from Jerusalem to confront Jesus.

“Why do your disciples disobey the traditions of the elders?” they demanded. “They don’t wash their hands before eating!”

“And why do you disobey the commands of God for the sake of your traditions?” he asked. “For God said, ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks badly of his father or mother should be put to death.’ But you claim that anyone can tell their parents, ‘What I might have given to help you has been promised to God.’ In this way you prevent people from honouring their parents, and so the word of God is ignored for the sake of your traditions. Hypocrites! Isaiah was right about you when he prophesied: ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship is a sham, because they simply teach their own ideas!’”

Then Jesus called to the crowd to gather around him.

“Listen to this carefully,” he said, “and make sure you take it in: it isn’t what goes into  a man’s your mouth that defiles him – it’s what comes out of his mouth.”

Then Jesus’ disciples came and spoke to him privately.

“Do you realize that you’ve offended the Pharisees by what you said?” they asked.

“Every plant that hasn’t been sown by my heavenly Father will be pulled up by its roots,” he said. “Leave them. They’re blind guides, and if one blind man guides another blind man, they’ll both end up in the ditch.”

“Yes,” said Peter, “but can you please explain to us what you meant when you spoke to them?”

“Do you still not understand?” asked Jesus. “Don’t you see that anything which enters the mouth goes into the stomach, and then passes out of the body? But what emerges from the mouth has come out of the heart – and that’s what defiles a person. It’s from the heart that evil thoughts come – murder, adultery, immorality, theft, lies, and slander. These are the things that defile a person. But eating with unwashed hands doesn’t defile anyone!”


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