And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 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 15:10-20 ESV
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:17-24 ESV
When Linus was still a very little boy, his big sister Lucy would take him around the neighborhood and teach him things. She taught him that fire hydrants grew all over the place, and that nobody knew how people could get so much water out of such small objects. She taught him that the clouds in sky were what made the wind blow. She showed him a small tree and told him it was an elm tree and that he could tell how old it was by counting its leaves. Then she said that someday it would grow to be a mighty oak. Lucy really didn’t know anything about science, and she was only making things up to impress her little brother. She was like a blind person leading another blind person. Linus didn’t learn anything true or right from her.
When Jesus told the religious leaders that making up rules wouldn’t bring them closer to God, but that God cared about what was in their hearts and whether they truly obeyed his law, they were angry with him. Jesus warned his disciples that the religious leaders were blind guides. People who listened to them and learned from them would not learn what was true and right. They would be like blind people who were being led by other blind people–they would all fall into the ditch! Jesus also taught his disciples again that what they put into their mouths and ate wasn’t important to God, because what people eat doesn’t last. It’s what is in our hearts and comes out of our mouths and out into our lives that really matters. But this isn’t good news, because we are sinful people, and what comes out of our hearts is evil and wicked–having hateful and hurtful thoughts and behavior, sinning with our bodies, stealing, lying, and all kinds of sins.
Jesus came to save us from all the ways we disobey God’s law and from all the evil that we carry in our hearts. He obeyed God’s law perfectly and taught his followers the truth about God’s ways. He took all our sins to the cross with him and died for them there. Because of what Jesus did, all of our sins–even the secret sins in our hearts–are forgiven every day. Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust in his forgiveness and to learn to follow God’s law in our lives.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Teacher and our Savior. Help us to follow you and trust in you always. Amen.
Schulz, Charles M. The Complete Peanuts 1955-1956 Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2004, p. 166.