Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Leaving Capernaum, Jesus & his students crossed the lake again (92); they landed at Gennesaret & tied up the boat. People there recognized Jesus at once, and word of his coming spread throughout the whole region.  People from everywhere brought to Jesus their sick friends & relatives, some even lying on cots; they begged him to let the sick at least touch the edge of his cloak.  And all who did touch it were healed!

Some Pharisees & teachers of the law of Moses had come from Jerusalem; they wanted to keep a close eye on Jesus. They soon noticed that some of Jesus’ students didn’t wash their hands before eating, according to prescribed Jewish ritual.

(The Pharisees, and most of the Jews, followed the teaching they had received from their ancestors: they didn’t eat unless they washed their hands in the proper way, and they washed any food that came from the market. They had many rules for the proper way to wash cups, pots, copper bowls & beds.)

So these Pharisees & teachers of the law of Moses asked Jesus, “Why do your students not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors?  Why do they eat without washing their hands properly?”


Jesus answered them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites: ‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far from me. It’s no use for them to worship me, because they teach man’s rules as though they were God’s rules!'”

Jesus continued speaking to the Jewish religious leaders: “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to do your own thing. For example, Moses taught, ‘Respect your father and your mother.’ But you teach, ‘If a man has anything he could use to help his father or mother — but says it “belongs to God” — then he is excused from using it to help his father or mother.’  So your teaching cancels out the word of God given to Moses! And that’s just one example of how you misuse God’s word.”

Then Jesus taught the crowd, “Nothing you put in your body makes you unclean in God’s eyes. But what comes out of you is what shows that you’re unclean in God’s eyes.”

Later, his students asked him to explain this. Jesus said, “Nothing you put into your body can make you unclean, because it doesn’t go into your heart; it just passes through your body.”  (In this way Jesus declared that all foods may be eaten.)


Then Jesus went on to say, “What comes out of your heart is what shows that you’re unclean in God’s eyes. From your heart come your desires to do evil things – to rob, to kill, to commit adultery, to be greedy, to be deceitful, to be indecent, to be jealous, to slander, to be proud, and to be foolish — all these evil things come from inside your heart.  These are the things that make you unclean in God’s eyes!


(92) Matthew 14:34-15:20, Mark 6:53-7:23