“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.'”
Matthew 15:10-11 NLT
“Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” Matthew 15:17-20 NLT
Peter was confused. All his life he had been taught the importance of hand washing and dietary laws, as part of what made him acceptable to God. It was something the religious leaders insisted on. Yet, Jesus had made a point of teaching the opposite.
Had the religious leaders not read scripture such as Proverbs 4:23? “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Of course they had, and even memorized it! But they had missed its significance, choosing to focus on outward ritual rather than true inner purity.
Being in right relationship with God. That was what was meant by “guarding your heart”. Peace. Well-being. No matter what went on around them.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:23, 27 NLT
After His ascension back to heaven, Jesus drove home His point in a vision to Peter. It is He Who makes us clean, not “keeping the rules”, and not ritualistic piety.
The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.
Acts 10:9-16 NLT
And with that, Jesus threw open the door to everyone. Peter was to understand that the gospel was for all people. Love might begin with those closest to him, and spread outward to those who were like him, but Jesus made clear to him that it was a new day, and love for all was the rule.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:12-13 NLT
Jesus set the example; love was to be without limit. Peter would follow His example years later, submitting to crucifixion, in imitation of His Master and fidelity to the gospel.
Might we all have something to learn and practice regarding this?
Categories: About Jesus