‘What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them…’ (Matthew 15:10-20)
Many may not think of this as being a parable as such as it doesn’t appear to take the same format as the others and yet this was possibly one of the most disturbing things Jesus could have said to the Pharisees at the time. If we look through Leviticus we see many commandments associated with food and cleanliness, all of which were part of the various rituals and ceremonies that they adhered to in their obedience to the Torah. Yet what Jesus appeared to be saying here was that following the Torah to the letter was not enough and not pleasing to God. Imagine how they must have reacted to this. But what do we take from this parable?
If our faith was simply all about simply following a laid down set of instructions then it would too easy and in effect be meaningless, because at the end of the day anyone can go through the motions of following a ‘tick list’ without any really thought or emotion as to why they were doing so. However, if we think back to the Beatitudes – Blessed are the pure in heart… – that’s where our faith should begin and that is what Jesus is highlighting here. It’s not so much how we act and how we behave – but rather why we do so. We cannot call anyone one good just because they follow a set on instructions, but we can call them good if their hearts belong to good and it is this that guides them.