Matthew 15:10-20 (On Food and Defilement and Taking Offense)

Consider the spiritual counterpart of “eating bread”, namely, studying the word of God, meditating upon it, and taking it to heart; what would the spiritual counterpart of washing the hands be in this context?  Cf. Jam 4:8.  Is it necessary for a person to have already first repented of all his sins and so washed his hands in order to “eat bread”, i.e., receive sustenance from the word of God that will sanctify him from the inside out?  Is it because of the works of our own hands in turning from sin and cleansing ourselves that we are able to understand the word of God, or rather, is it because of our daily bread in God’s word that we understand the need to turn from sin and be holy, and receive sustenance and strength from God’s word in order to do so?  See Deut 8:3; see also Eph 5:18 and the context of the verses that follow and compare the parallel passage in Col 3:16 and the context that follows, both of which were written at the same time, to understand how and what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Think: what sort of spirit pervades and comes upon a person at a football game?  In a bar or tavern?  If one immerses himself in the things of the world, what spirit that pervades will come upon him?  Cf. Eph 2:2.  If one immerses himself in the things of God, what Spirit that pervades will come upon him?  Cf. 1Co 2:12.  Is it then the works of our hands—by avoiding the football game or bar—that one is sanctified and made holy, or is it a love for the truth that immerses one in God’s word so that He is filled with a Spirit of holiness that sanctifies him from the inside out?  Cf. 2Th 2:10.

What things did Jesus say defile the ultimate life of a man, and what things did He say do not defile a man?  See Mat 15:11,19-20, Mar 7:14-15,21-23.  What implication of these words does Mark point out to his readers?  See Mar 7:18-19; cf. Rom 14:2,14,20, 1Ti 4:3-5.  Does the eating, or not eating, of certain foods commend us to God?  Cf. Rom 14:17.  In what ways are the dietary guidelines and restrictions promoted and observed by many today similar to the dietary laws promoted and observed by the first century Jews?  Cf. Col 2:20-23.  How was Jesus’ teaching on this topic contrary to what the scribes and Pharisees taught?  How is it different from what the many authorities on matters of life and health of our own day teach?  Whereas the Scripture is clear that it is not the type of food itself that defiles a person, what aspect of our eating of food does Scripture point to as sinful and that does in fact appear to be behind a large number of health related infirmities today?  See Deut 21:20, Pro 23:20-21, 28:7, Tit 1:12 and observe that the Hebrew word for gluttonous means to make light of, in the sense of to be lavish with and squander.  How does this describe the manner in which contemporary American culture has come to view the abundance and endless variety of food it enjoys?[1] How is this attitude quite different from that described in Scripture as looking to God with a spirit of thankfulness for our daily necessary bread?  Cf. Mat 6:11, Joh 6:11,23, Act 27:35, Rom 1:21.  In what ways besides in respect to food has American culture become “gluttonous” by making light of its abundance and being lavish to the point of squandering its wealth?  Cf. Eze 16:49-50.  In what ways are we personally guilty of this?

What was the reaction of the Pharisees to Jesus’ teaching that was contrary to theirs?  See Mat 15:12.  Was their reaction much different from most people’s would be today who think of their life in terms of the flesh and believe their health derives primarily from the food and vitamins they eat if told it’s not what goes into their mouth that defiles and works death within them, but what comes out of their mouths?  How was their reaction similar to that of the mainstream medical establishment today to alternative medical treatments that take into account the tripartite nature of man?  In what way does the reaction of the Pharisees exemplify the way fallen man typically reacts when his traditions are exposed by the truth to be less important than his sinful pride has made them out to be?  When confronted with the truths of Scripture that contradict our traditions, do we embrace them as the words of God that are able to impart life, understanding that God’s ways are not our ways and because of our cursed nature we have drifted away from that which is life into death?  Or do we immediately go searching for a reason why the Scripture doesn’t mean what it plainly says and gather around us others to agree with us so we are deceived that everyone on the broad road to destruction couldn’t be wrong?  Like the Pharisees are we offended and seek to kill the messenger because in our sinful pride we suppose we cannot be wrong and everything we believe must be correct simply because we believe it?  What Christian virtue is essential to guard against falling into these religious snares?  See Pro 18:12, Zep 2:3, Act 20;18-19, Eph 4:1-2, Jam 1:21, 1Pe 5:5.

 


1. From 1971 to 2000, obesity rates in the United States increased from 14.5% to 30.9%.  During the same period, an increase occurred in the average amount of calories consumed. For women, the average increase was 335 calories per day (1,542 calories in 1971 and 1,877 calories in 2004), while for men the average increase was 168 calories per day (2,450 calories in 1971 and 2,618 calories in 2004). Most of these extra calories came from an increase in carbohydrate consumption rather than fat consumption. The primary source of these extra carbohydrates are sweetened beverages, which now account for almost 25 percent of daily calories in young adults in America. Consumption of sweetened drinks is believed to be contributing to the rising rates of obesity.  As societies become increasingly reliant on energy-dense, big-portion, fast-food meals, the association between fast-food consumption and obesity becomes more concerning. In the United States consumption of fast-food meals tripled and calorie intake from these meals quadrupled between 1977 and 1995.  (Wickipedia, Obesity)

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