The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Jessi Peper. Jessi is  from the South of Germany and has been living here in London for almost three years now and is a singer/songwriter.

Matthew 15:1-20

That which defiles

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!'

3 Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, "Honour your father and mother" and "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death." 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is "devoted to God," 6 they are not to "honour their father or mother" with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 '"These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules."'

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, 'Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.'

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.[d] 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 a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts - murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.'


In the song "Words" by Hawk Nelson, he describes what effects we can have on other people with what we are saying. I believe Jesus wanted to make the point in Matthew 15:1-20 that it isn't about what food we eat or the religious tasks we do that matter to him, but what we say to the ones around us because it shows how our heart is doing. If someone says something kind from their heart and encourages us, we feel amazing, but even a little comment of, "well, it was okay, but it was a bit lame" can destroy someone's dream. I am not saying we shouldn't filter what people say to us, but I think Jesus tried to say that it isn't about the hours we spend in a church building or discussing with someone whether it's okay to eat meat or not. It is about how we treat each other, including what we are saying. You might know the feeling when you are feeling insecure in an area of your life and someone else is excelling at it, and maybe already got to the dream you want to live. It becomes so much harder to say something truly nice to that person; at least I have felt this way. I believe Jesus wants us to know that when our hearts are connected with the Father, we can start stepping over our insecurities, anger, envy or whatever it might be, and instead of destroying someone with our words, we can bring life. And whilst there are still moments where I struggle with this, reminding myself that God is bigger than my shortcomings, and the things I feel like I lack or I can't get past, is the only thing helping me to be able to champion the people around me.

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