Then the followers came to Jesus and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees are angry because of what you said?" Jesus answered, "Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted himself will be pulled up by the roots. Stay away from the Pharisees. They lead the people, but they are like blind men leading other blind men. And if a blind man leads another blind man, then both men will fall into a hole."
— Matthew 15:12-14
The powerful implication of Jesus' words for his followers in today's passage is immense. The Pharisees were regarded as the most righteous of all people in Jesus' day. They believed in resurrection and reward from God for those who adopted their form of righteousness. Because of their reputation and power, the disciples were worried that Jesus would alienate them—and he not only alienated them, many of them actually hated Jesus and regarded him as their enemy. But Jesus' words remind us of one essential truth: If it is not from God, it won't last! In fact, if something pretends to be from God, but isn't, it will lead to disaster.
In a world of political correctness, multi-culturalism, and pluralism, it is easy to confuse respect for the people of a culture with an acceptance of that culture's religious truth. In Matthew, Jesus demands that we come to him for truth and reject ANY religion that promotes formalism, ritualism, or externalism at the expense of inner purity and true transformation from God.
Righteous and holy Father, please help me discern false religions and false teachers, no matter how popular or powerful. I want to have a pure heart, transformed by your grace and obedient to your will. Forgive me of my sin and create in me a pure heart, humble and obedient to your will. Please help me exhibit this purity in my speech, my attitude, my thoughts, my motives, and my actions. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus. They came from Jerusalem and asked Jesus, "Why do your followers not obey the rules given to us by our great people that lived before us? Your followers don't wash their hands before they eat!" Jesus answered, "And why do you refuse to obey God's command so that you can follow those rules you have? God said, 'You must honor (respect) your father and mother.' And God also said, 'Any person that says bad things to his father or mother must be killed.' But you teach that a person can say to his father or mother, 'I have something I could use to help you. But I will not use it to help you. I will give it to God.' You teach that person to not honor his father. So you teach that it is not important to do what God said. You think that it is more important to follow those rules you have. You are hypocrites ! Isaiah was right when he spoke about you. Isaiah said: 'These people say they honor me, but they don't really make me an important part of their lives. Their worship of me is for nothing. The things they teach are only rules that people have made.'" Jesus called the people to him. Jesus said, "Listen and understand what I am saying. It is not the things a person puts in his mouth that make him wrong. It is the things a person says with his mouth that make him wrong." Then the followers came to Jesus and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees are angry because of what you said?" Jesus answered, "Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted himself will be pulled up by the roots. Stay away from the Pharisees. They lead the people, but they are like blind men leading other blind men. And if a blind man leads another blind man, then both men will fall into a hole." Peter said, "Explain to us what you said earlier to the people." Jesus said, "You still have trouble understanding? Surely you know that all the food that enters a person's mouth goes into the stomach. Then that food goes out of the body. But thebad things a person says with his mouth come from the way a person thinks. And these are the things that make a person wrong. All these bad things begin in a person's mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, saying bad things against other people. These things make a person wrong. But not washing his hands before he eats does not make a person wrong."