Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 15:10-20

This is our eighth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.

Matthew 15:10-20

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'”

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. If a blind man leads a blind man, 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 the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”

Observations

In this text Jesus goes back to the Pharisees complaint that the disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating (vv. 1-2). He explains why He was unconcerned about it, or why He was more concerned about the inside of a person—the heart. He said that what comes out of a man, or what a man speaks will defile him. It is exactly what James tells us (in James 3:6), that when we speak something sinful, our sinful words will defile the entire man and will cause us to do evil things (v. 19).

Also, when the disciples came and told Jesus that the Pharisees were offended by what he was saying, His reply seemed very callous; however, Jesus knew their evil heart and was more concerned that His disciples not be influenced by them. John MacArthur said that Jesus here (in vv. 13-14) is declaring God’s wrath on the Pharisees, that God has already given them over, as in Romans 1:18-32).

Applications

We ought to be much more concerned with our moral purity than with out physical uncleanness. We also should be watchful of “blind guides,” so that we will not be led down the wrong path.

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