“Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.’ ‘Don’t you understand yet?’ Jesus asked. ‘Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart – that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you’”
(Matthew 15:15-20, NLT).
(Matthew 15:15-20, NLT).
Jesus “went into a house (probably in Capernaum) to get away from the crowd” (Mark 7:17, bracket mine) and to spend time with his disciples. Often Peter would act as spokesman for the disciples, and he always seemed to speak honestly (sometime too rashly). In above passage, Peter was simply saying, “Hey, I still don’t get it.” In a couple of years Peter would be confronted directly with this very issue of clean and unclean food (read Acts 10:9-15), where he would learn that nothing should be a barrier to proclaiming the Gospel to non-Jews, which are Gentiles like us. Here Peter was simply expressing the confusion that all the disciples were experiencing.
Jesus knew the crowd didn’t understand but seemed very disappointed that his disciples had also failed to comprehend. Jesus’ question “Don’t you understand yet?” shows that discipleship is a process of growth. We must understand this, for ourselves and others. Although the disciples knew much about Jesus, they still had more to learn. Then Jesus explained that what comes out of a person – evil thoughts and deeds – are what defile that person, not what goes in the mouth (Of course, gluttony is a sin!). Moral defilement has nothing to do with food, but with sin in the heart. Jesus wasn’t simply teaching theology or showing he could out-argue the Pharisees. He wanted the disciples to understand this important truth. The more time they spent with Jesus, the more they would understand and put into practice. They get to see how Jesus lived and asked questions. What great privileges!
Think about this: The disciples may not have heard everything or they may have been overly concerned about offending the religious leaders. Whatever the reason, they didn’t understand Jesus’ words about clean and unclean foods and defilement. Although we don’t have Jesus sitting physically with us and explaining his teachings, we have God’s written Word – and a wide range of Bible study resources. God gave his Word to reveal himself and his plan to us, to tell us how to believe and how to live. What an amazing gift! (If you want read about the argument of the defilement issue, read Jesus wants Us to Live from the Inside Out. Click title).
Ask God’s Holy Spirit that he would illuminate the Scriptures for you as you study his Word.
Don’t you understand yet? Ask Him.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.