Matthew 15:1-3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
1Then 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?
Crowds thronged to the rabbi Jesus. Word spread rapidly when he arrived on foot or by boat and people came, some to hear what he had to say and to try to understand his unconventional teachings, others brought their sick family members or friends, and no wonder, for everywhere he went, the lame walked and the blind saw; chains of every kind were broken.
Amongst the crowds, unseen by human eye, mingled other beings. They knew who this man was and hated him. Every heart that opened to his words was a blow against their kingdom as was every withered limb made whole and every leprous person healed.
Masters at the art of division, they mounted a counter attack. They went to work, focusing on the religious leaders, of all people the ones who should have recognized Jesus as the One who was the fulfillment of the law. They capitalized on their weakness, their focus on the letter of the law. Out of their infernal arsenal they pulled Outrage, Self Righteousness, Judgment and Pride. They loved the ease with which the bait was swallowed. The biggest triumph of all was getting them so tied up in knots of criticism over the rabbi's lack of respect for man made traditions, that they were oblivious to the fact that they were themselves breaking the very command of God. Watching this unfold was so superbly satisfying. Over the Pharisees heads they slipped another favourite weapon, hoods of blindness.
The rabbi spoke words that pierced hell like arrows, quoting the ancient prophet Isaiah:
"These people honour me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men."
The demons shuddered at the truth of these words, but their work was done well and their victims remained unseeing. They turned their focus to the rabbi's followers. A vile greenish fog of confusion began to swirl around their heads. "Excuse me, Master," they said, "Do you know that you just offended the Pharisees?"
But if a lesson in manners was what they had in mind, they must have cringed at Jesus' next words.
"Blind guides!" he said, "If a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall into the ditch."
Their minds were still befuddled by the fog of confusion and Peter asked, "Could you explain the parable to us?"
Jesus looked at his followers; Peter was one of his closest circle. "Are you still so dull?" he asked, there was no gentler way to put it, and patiently he began again to teach, breaking down the truth into the simplest of terms. What matters is the heart. The washing of the hands; that doesn't come close to what is important - the washing of the heart.
Prayer: Lord, we can all be every bit as blind as those who are recorded in this account. I pray that you will give me seeing eyes and hearing ears and a mind that understands. Please wash my heart too, dear Lord; give me a pure heart.
Matthew 5:8 (New Living Translation)
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.