And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” –Matthew 15:16-20 (English Standard Version)
Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer
In the preceding verses of this chapter we find Jesus being questioned by the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they asked him, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” –Matthew 15:2 And you recall during those days, humanly speaking, these Pharisees and teachers of the law were great respected men among the people of Israel. For they could quote the scriptures easily, they attended the church (synagogue) regularly, spoke eloquently, gave money to great causes, and other things of that nature. To a blind eye observing these men, one might say there are the men I want to follow and be like for they are close to God! Yes! They are the true leaders of Israel!
Well not so to Jesus. He retorted to their question sharply saying, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” –Matthew 15:3 For Jesus is God and he knew the condition of their hearts. He knew that externally these men looked very godly but internally, their inner man, was unclean. It’s like some people today. They come to church every Sunday, they’re involved in ministries, give lots of money to foundations and some even preach and seem to have gained a large following of people that respect them. “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” –Matthew 15:7-9
Jesus sought to teach the Pharisees that it isn’t outward ceremonial traditions such as the washing of the hands (traditions) that makes one clean and pleasing to God but it is a changed heart and keeping the commands of God that God approves.
You and I recognize our sinful nature and realize that sin exists in a fallen world. How is it then that one’s heart can be changed? We certainly can’t do it by our own strength. We’ll fail over and over again. The answer is, we must be born again. Jesus said, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” –John 3:5-6 Only the pure in heart, a heart that is changed by Jesus Christ, the incarnated God, through the forgiveness of sin believing on the saving work that he did on the cross for you and for me will see God face to face in heaven. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. –Matthew 5:8
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? (Be in his presence) The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bride against the innocent. –Psalm 15:1-5 Amen
Lord, create in us a clean heart.
-Jason M. Alexandre
About Jason M. Alexandre
Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the Great Commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the Gospel to be spread from person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.