In my last post, we learned that Kefa Gets Wet and Declares His Loyalty. In this post, we examine another parable of Yeshua’s that Kefa needs to be explained.
Let me briefly set the stage from Matthew 15 and Mark 7. We pick up the story right after Kefa has declared his loyalty to Yeshua by proclaiming that He is the Holy One of God.
1 Then some P’rushim and Torah-teachers from Yerushalayim came to Yeshua and asked him, 2 “Why is it that your talmidim break the Tradition of the Elders? They don’t do n’tilat-yadayim before they eat!” ~ Matthew 15:1-2 (CJB)
N’tilat-yadayim is the rabbinical hand-washing ritual done by observant Jews even today. Yeshua banters back and forth with the P’rushim and Torah-teachers about what God has said in His Word and what they have established as tradition. (I can’t write or say that word without remembering “The Fidler on the Roof.”)
10 Then He called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand this! 11 What makes a person unclean is not what goes into his mouth; rather, what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean!”
12 The talmidim came to Him and said, “Do you know that the P’rushim were offended by what you said?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Let them be. They are blind guides. When a blind man guides another blind man, both will fall in a pit.”
15 Kefa said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 So He said, “Don’t you understand even now? 17 Don’t you see that anything that enters the mouth goes into the stomach and passes out into the latrine? 18 But what comes out of your mouth is actually coming from your heart, and that is what makes a person unclean. 19 For out of the heart come forth wicked thoughts, murder, adultery and other kinds of sexual immorality, theft, lies, slanders…. 20 These are what really make a person unclean, but eating without doing n’tilat-yadayim does not make a person unclean.” ~ Matthew 15:10-20 (CJB)
Don’t you understand even now? It is not clear from the context if this was solely directed towards Kefa alone or to all His remaining talmidim. When Kefa asked Him to explain His comments about being defiled, Yeshua answered. When you eat food, it enters the mouth goes into the stomach and passes out into the latrine. No harm is done. Eating with unwashed hands might make you sick, but it can’t defile you.
Yeshua was teaching that the human heart is innately corrupt, but He also described His followers as pure in heart in the Beatitudes. From this, we conclude that following Yeshua results in a transformation of the heart that dramatically diminishes our love of sin.
You can engage in endless religious habits, but these don’t have the power to make you a better man or woman because following external traditions can’t change a wicked heart. But Yeshua can because he’s a heart specialist. Through a relationship with Him, your heart can be transformed so that you love God and love people.
In my next post, we pick up our chronological journey of Kefa in the Gospels when he once again acknowledges that Yeshua is the Messiah.