NOVEMBER 16 (Year One)
The Pharisees gathered around Jesus. So did some of the teachers of the law. All of them had come from Jerusalem. They saw some of his disciples eating food with “unclean” hands. That means they were not washed. The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands to make them “clean.” That’s what the elders teach. When they come from the market, they do not eat unless they wash. And they follow many other teachings. For example, they wash cups, pitchers, and kettles in a special way.
So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law questioned Jesus. “Why don’t your disciples live by what the elders teach?” they asked. “Why do they eat their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right. He prophesied about you people who pretend to be good. He said,
“ ‘These people honor me by what they say.
But their hearts are far away from me.
Their worship doesn’t mean anything to me.
They teach nothing but human rules.’ (Isaiah 29:13)
You have let go of God’s commands. And you are holding on to teachings that people have made up.”
Jesus continued speaking, “You have a fine way of setting aside God’s commands! You do this so you can follow your own teachings. Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother.’ (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) He also said, ‘Anyone who asks for bad things to happen to their father or mother must be put to death.’ (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9) But you allow people to say that what might have been used to help their parents is Corban. Corban means A Gift Set Apart for God. So you no longer let them do anything for their parents. You make the word of God useless by putting your own teachings in its place. And you do many things like this.”
Again Jesus called the crowd to him. He said, “Listen to me, everyone. Understand this. Nothing outside of a person can make them ‘unclean’ by going into them. It is what comes out of them that makes them ‘unclean.’ ”
Then he left the crowd and entered the house. His disciples asked him about this teaching. “Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked. “Don’t you see? Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make them ‘unclean.’ It doesn’t go into their heart. It goes into their stomach. Then it goes out of the body.” In saying this, Jesus was calling all foods “clean.”
He went on to say, “What comes out of a person is what makes them ‘unclean.’ Evil thoughts come from the inside, from a person’s heart. So do sexual sins, stealing and murder. Adultery, greed, hate and cheating come from a person’s heart too. So do desires that are not pure, and wanting what belongs to others. And so do telling lies about others and being proud and being foolish. All these evil things come from inside a person and make them ‘unclean.’ ”
Jesus went from there to a place near Tyre. He entered a house. He did not want anyone to know where he was. But he could not keep it a secret. Soon a woman heard about him. An evil spirit controlled her little daughter. The woman came to Jesus and fell at his feet. She was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “That was a good reply. You may go. The demon has left your daughter.”
So she went home and found her child lying on the bed. And the demon was gone.
Then Jesus left the area of Tyre and went through Sidon. He went down to the Sea of Galilee and into the area known as the Ten Cities. There some people brought a man to Jesus. The man was deaf and could hardly speak. They begged Jesus to place his hand on the man.
Jesus took the man to one side, away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. Jesus looked up to heaven. With a deep sigh, he said to the man, “Ephphatha!” That means “Be opened!” The man’s ears were opened. His tongue was freed up, and he began to speak clearly.
Jesus ordered the people not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were really amazed. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes deaf people able to hear. And he makes those who can’t speak able to talk.”