Monday, February 8, 2010
2/8/10 Matthew 15:10-20 Holiness is not food but the Heart
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into your mouth does not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, that is what defiles you." 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" 13 He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." 15 Peter said, "Explain the parable to us." 16 "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile you. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile you; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile you."
Calvin abridged: Paul also teaches that the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink (Rom. 14:17). Outward things by nature are pure, the use of them is free and pure, and uncleanness is not contracted from the good creatures of God. Jesus did not try to pacify the offense of the Pharisees, but he actually inflamed them all the more. He told his disciples that they should not marvel that the reprobate oppose the doctrine of salvation- for they are on their way to their doom. But good people should not be distressed or entertain less reverence for the faith, even though to many it may lead to death. It is a mistake to say that this passage indicates that all human inventions and everything that does not proceed from God’s mouth, should be rooted up and perish. Christ sets them aside as unworthy of notice. So there is a distinction between offending the weak and offending those who are obstinate and malicious- for Christ is the stone of offense (1 Pt 2:8).
Thoughts: Jesus was not worried about offending the Pharisees even though his willingness to offend those who were wrong-but-in- power eventually led to his death. Today we live in a world in which we are afraid of offending anyone. Politicians and cabinet members are threatened with removal from office for using words that in the past were the common way of speaking of others (“retarded” or “negro”) but now are deemed offensive. Ironically, our society is against labeling but cannot find a way out of it. We keep switching labels of people and things (so the “Presbyterian Home” is now “Presbyterian Communities”- because we don’t want to say it is an “old folk’s home”). Some people live to be slighted and angry. Ironically, Jesus seemed to indicate there are those who should be offended. Jesus’ idea of holiness is not with the outward things (or labels) but with the heart. What comes out of the mouth is an indication of what is deep in the heart. There is always a natural tendency to value the outside and forget the inside. So we value the beautiful, and fashion (but the devil can wear prada), and the physically strong and rich. Such things are not evil- but gifts of God, but they are secondary to a beautiful heart and even holy and loving words.
Prayer: Lord, let my heart be kind and tender, and may my words reflect your love in my heart.