God’s Word Goes Forth: Encourage One Another in Faith
Matthew 15:1-20: Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem over issues of ritual purity. Jesus says that purity comes from within a person; it is a state of the heart rather than the result of strictly observing ritual practices.
Today's Scripture: Matthew 15:11
“It is not what goes into your mouth that makes you ritually unclean; rather, what comes out of it that makes you unclean.”
1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the Law came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked him, 2 “Why is it that your disciples disobey the teaching handed down by our ancestors? They don't wash their hands in the proper way before they eat!” 3 Jesus answered, “And why do you disobey God's command and follow your own teaching? 4 For God said, “Respect your father and your mother,” and “If you curse your father or your mother, you are to be put to death.” 5 But you teach that if people have something they could use to help their father or mother, but say, “This belongs to God,” 6 they do not need to honor their father. In this way you disregard God's command, in order to follow your own teaching. 7 You hypocrites! How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! 8 ‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. 9 It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’” 10 Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand! 11 It is not what goes into your mouth that makes you ritually unclean; rather, what comes out of it makes you unclean. ” 12 Then the disciples came to him and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees had their feelings hurt by what you said?” 13 “Every plant which my Father in heaven did not plant will be pulled up,” answered Jesus. 14 “Don't worry about them! They are blind leaders of the blind; and when one blind man leads another, both fall into a ditch.” 15 Peter spoke up, “Explain this saying to us.” 16 Jesus said to them, “You are still no more intelligent than the others. 17 Don't you understand? Anything that goes into your mouth goes into your stomach and then on out of your body. 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these are the things that make you ritually unclean. 19 For from your heart come the evil ideas which lead you to kill, commit adultery, and do other immoral things; to rob, lie, and slander others. 20 These are the things that make you unclean. But to eat without washing your hands as they say you should—this doesn't make you unclean. ”
What prompted the question that the Pharisees asked Jesus? How did Jesus answer them? How do you understand his response? Think of one or two practices or behaviors that could be judged as either good or bad depending on an individual’s motivation for doing them.
O God, how easy it is to get caught up in rules and regulations and to concern myself with external appearances. I humbly ask for your forgiveness and patience. Cleanse my heart and fill my mind with thoughts that are pleasing to you, that my attitude may lead to actions marked by your grace. Amen.
Those who gossip