Feasting with God #7
What Comes Out of the Mouth
(Fountain for ceremonial hand washing before entering a synagogue)
17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year is to lose weight, or to eat healthier. Many people are very concerned about what they eat, because they know how different nutrients affect their bodies. In Jesus’ day, there was another idea about the food one takes into his body, and the way he eats that food. The Pharisees and Jewish leaders had very strict regulations about how a person was to take his meals in order to live the holiest life he could, to cleanse himself of sins, to purify himself. But Jesus told them and his disciples that what goes into a person’s body makes no difference spiritually. It is what comes out that defiles.
Since Adam and Eve fell into sin, all humanity is corrupt through and through. Because of sin’s beginning, we cannot help but sin. We are full of sin. This is what Jesus means when he says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” We wash our hands before we eat to avoid ingesting harmful bacteria and materials. But what really needs washing is our hearts, our very souls. The most deadly bacteria lives in our veins. This sin that has become a part of our very existence will not only cause us to die and leave this earth, but it causes us to die eternally, forever separated from our heavenly Father. This sin, which festers in our hearts, manifests itself in actions, words, and thoughts that are harmful to ourselves and others, and omission of actions, words, and thoughts which would be helpful to ourselves and others. Because our hearts are so filthy with sin, everything we do becomes sin.
It is easy enough to wash our hands. We have water and soap: simple things to find and use. But how can we wash our hearts? The answer, again, is water, but water and the Word. Through baptism, which takes the Word of God and applies it to the water, our hearts are washed clean of sin’s impurities, and we are given forgiveness, new life, and the salvation that Jesus Christ won for us on the cross. Jesus’ heart was never corrupted by sin, and he never committed an evil act. Yet he suffered the punishment for the sins all of us committed – he suffered hell’s torment. When we are baptized, we receive faith in him which is what takes ahold of what he won: perfection. Yes, while we live on this earth we still commit “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander,” and other sins. But because of our faith in Jesus and what he has done, because our hearts are washed clean, we face no punishment, but rather reward.
Dear Lord Jesus, continue to come to us through your Word as you came to us in our baptisms. Let our hearts each day be made pure toward you, prepared to leave behind our sins and go forward in the doing of good works in your name. Let us rely not on ourselves or on our own abilities which are themselves corrupted by sin, but let us rely instead on you and your Word of promise. In your name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.