15:10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:
15:11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
15:12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”
15:13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.
15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”
15:15 But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”
15:16 Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?
15:17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?
15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.
15:19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.
15:20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
Sometimes it seems almost too obvious what Jesus is trying to teach His disciple and yet there are also times when it is hard for them to understand. Jesus is making a profound and hard statement that most people have a hard time either accepting or wanting to listen to in the first place.
Our true nature and intentions are reflected by what is going in our hearts. Our hearts represent what we think, feel and act about everything that goes on around us. The way in which we communicate what is going on in our hearts is through our words. Jesus is hitting the point hard because He wants for us to understand that our hearts are what need to be examined, refined and changed in order for us to truly live a life that honors God.
Jesus also points what a defiled heart looks like. In verse 11 He touches on those who have defiled hearts, end up speaking things that are not representations of who God is and ultimately what it means to be follower for Christ. The Pharisees were prime examples of those whose words did not reflect what was going on in their hearts. They were good at quoting scripture and preaching at people but they themselves did not truly live out what they were preaching.
They were not good at truly understanding God’s word and applying that to their lives. Their hearts were filled with jealousy and envy towards Christ and instead of praising God for the things that Jesus was preaching and saying, they instead looked for ways to kill and destroy Him.
Take the time to examine your heart and ask for God to bring to light the things that are hindering you from drawing closer to Him, reflecting and honoring Him. Incline your hearts towards the things that will ultimately bring you into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Jesus was surrounded by a culture that believed that performing certain sacred tasks would keep them in good standing with God. The Pharisees, especially, thought that by creating a system that kept people far away from breaking one of the laws in the old covenant, they would prevent another catastrophe like the exile by the Babylons. After the exiles returned from Babylon, the Jews who reformed the nation were placing blame on broken covenant laws. As a result, a system of laws was created to further prevent anyone from breaking one of the law that God dictated to them. By creating a barrier of laws even more extreme than the original, they would prevent the original laws from being broken, and therefore prevent God from punishing them with another exile.
They were not just in charge of the rituals but they were responsible for the spiritual health of the nation, in theory. This is why simple things like hand-washing was a big deal to the Pharisees. This is what we see just before Jesus throws down a lesson on what actually defiles a person. He was questioned about why His disciples didn’t wash there hands before a meal. But Jesus points out the obvious which is that the laws and obedience to the laws was not what defiled the nation. It was the state of their hearts and the character of the nation. For, it is what comes from the inside that shows if a person is defiled, not what they do when people are looking.
That lesson is true for us today. Never let rules and obedience to those rules be the goal. The important matter is whether or not we are obedient to the law of Christ which is to love God above all and treat our neighbors as ourselves. This will always be more important than if we wear the right clothes to church or if we read the best Bible version.