The religious leaders came to Jesus with a rather accusatory question:
“Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”
Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”
Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”
Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)
And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
(Matthew 15:2-20; Mark 7:1-23 (NLT))
Let’s look at our 2 BIG Questions:
1. Who exactly is Jesus?
Unlike the hypocritical religious leaders who focused on man-made traditions and external rituals, Jesus was sent straight from the Father with a revolutionary message that turned the entire system inside-out.
Following God ain’t about religious rules and regulations. It’s about a relationship: God wants our very hearts.
2. What exactly should we do?
Don’t swap God’s truth for mere human traditions and external rituals that never get at what’s reeeeeally going on in our hearts.
Sin is an inside job. So is its solution. We all need a heart transplant — stat.
Ask God to (1) remove any evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride and foolishness you harbor deep in your heart and to (2) fill it instead with the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23.)
(Image credit: Shutterstock/noidec)