Matthew 15:10 Then (Jesus) called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”…17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
The Pharisees questioned Jesus because his disciples did not follow the “tradition of the elders” to wash their hands before they ate. The rules around washing, and many other practices, governed the life of God’s people. If you read the Old Testament you will see how the people were help accountable for following these rules closely, sometimes on pain of death. The Pharisees were entrusted by the people to teach the rules and hold people accountable. This is why they are distressed by Jesus and his disciples. Jesus clearly demonstrated the power of God, yet he did not follow all the rules. In the worldview of the Pharisees that is not supposed to happen. It is beyond explanation.
Jesus’ teaching in this passage indicated a sort of disdain for the Pharisees, and perhaps rightly so. Yes they followed the letter of the law, but their hearts were hard. That too was not supposed to happen. The purpose of the law was to mold the hearts of God’s people to reflect God’s love for people and creation. Jesus called them out because they fell far short of that ideal. Okay, I get that.
However, it also occurs to me – who is the One who set up this system in the first place? Who is the One who created the heavens and the earth and all that dwells within it? Who designed the covenant of the law in the first place? The answer is obvious. It is God.
Part of being at the top of the org chart is taking responsibility for what occurs in that organization. If I am the organization’s founder, setting up the entire thing top to bottom, hiring all the people, designing all the processes, giving everyone their assignments – and the organization creates a great big mess, who bears the responsibility for that? The Founder, that’s who. If I’m the Founder I don’t get to point the finger somewhere else. The buck stops with me. Sometimes I wish God would do the same.
Heavenly Father, I love you dearly but sometimes you don’t make any sense. Help me to understand. Amen.