In contrast to the way Jesus compassionately leads the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well to see her sin, Jesus is direct and confrontational with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who hound him.
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” (Matthew 15:2) They accuse his disciples of being unclean.
Jesus responds directly,
“And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’…” (Matthew 15:3)
Jesus deals with them on two levels. Laying aside for a moment the issue of cleanliness, he trumps their accusation of breaking the ‘tradition of the elders’ with breaking the ‘command of God.‘ Jesus explicitly tells them how they encourage dishonoring parents by allowing people to give to the Temple rather than meeting their parents’ financial needs. “Thus,” Jesus says, “you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!” (Matthew 15:6-7) Turning to the crowd, Jesus says,
“Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
Finally, Jesus comes back to the initial issue of cleanliness,
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the mouth come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ (Matthew 15:17-20)
I love Jesus and I fear him. He sees into our hearts. He apparently knows the difference between a heart which can be turned to see the truth and repent from the hard-hearted who use the word of God to manipulate others.
I love him because he extends grace, love and mercy to me, when I confess my sinful motivations (I John 1:9). I fear him because he knows my heart better than I do. I don’t trust my heart. What comes out of my mouth often offends or criticises or slanders. Oh, Lord Jesus, forgive me.
Yet, Jesus said that he has created in me a clean heart. He is transforming my heart. As I abide in his word, my heart will respond by following his will. In these truths, I am comforted. I will hold on to the truth and abide then. I don’t want to ever hear Jesus say to me, ‘you hypocrite!’
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.