September 20th, 2021 – Matthew 15:11

Verse of the Day Devotion  Matthew 15:11  Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 

Today we will look at the Parable of the Defilement of the Body.   Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.

Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. Then the disciples came and said to Him, Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:11-14.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and asked Him, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”  He then turns and answers their question with a question, exposing their hypocrisy. “And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, Honor your father and mother’ and, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’  “But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to his father or mother, “Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And thus you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” Matthew 15:3b-6.

Now, these questions were no doubt asked in a public setting, with a crowd on the periphery. Then, Jesus addresses the crowd rather than the Jewish leadership. He called the people together and said, “Hear, and understand.  Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” Matthew 15:10-11. The Lord presents the Levitical idea of impurity in a deeper moral light. The question is not to be seen by the physical mouth or the use of certain meats, but by the moral mouth, the language. What is here said concerning the going into and coming out of the mouth, applies to the whole series of Levitical and moral injunctions concerning purity. In other words, what enters the mouth, i.e., food and drink, does not defile men, but it is what comes out that may defile him.

Then the disciples came and asked Him if He knew that the Pharisees were offended when they heard His statement?  Jesus answers with “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up.” Matthew 15:13. Jesus is telling them, essentially, that all those doctrines of which his Father was not the author of must be rooted up or corrected. The false doctrines of the Pharisees and scribes must be attacked and removed. Was it any wonder that they were indignant? It could not be helped. It was his duty to attack them. He was not surprised that they were enraged; but, notwithstanding their bad doctrine should be destroyed. This idea points to what is found in Isaiah, where he says of Israel, “Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.” Isaiah 60:21. This verse speaks positively about what He has planted. Jesus here is alluding that the Pharisees and Scribes were not planted by God, for their teachings and actions were not of God, and therefore must be uprooted in judgement. 

Jesus then tells the crowd there to leave them alone, essentially, to have nothing to do with them. They are the blind who lead the blind.  They were knowledgeable of the Law and what God desired, but they would not apply it as God had intended.  It was Jesus’ counsel that the disciples ignore the Pharisees and Scribes or leave them alone. Jesus either regarded their opposition as so hardened that he could not spend time being concerned with it, or he was subtly alluding to the parable of the weeds, in which the weeds are to be left alone until harvest. As Jesus said earlier, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6.

Today we see similar ideas in the church. Traditions should never take precedent over what God has called us to do or be.  Many times, imagery, habits, and patterns take priority over what He wants us to do.  This was the problem of the Jewish leadership which caused Jesus to reprove them on various occasions.  If God calls us to go somewhere, go for there is no doubt a work He has for us. If God tells us not to go, then we should not, for He has a good reason why not to.  I have had opportunities to witness and encourage people in places that many Christians would never want to go. God does not want beliefs or fear of disapproval to prevent us from doing His work, wherever that may be. And in todays culture, we can reach many more younger people by putting aside traditions and instead meet them where they are which may not include the standard means within churches.  God has called us to go into the highways and byways and compel the lost to come to the truth.  And sometimes this can bring ridicule or chastisement.  However, Jesus reached out to many the Jews would never be associated with.  We should therefore be willing do the same in our world today.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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