The Establishment

He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”

Jesus shrugged it off. “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”

Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.” (Matthew 15:10–20)

Jesus was not concerned with what most of the Pharisees thought of him because they were not from God. Most of the Pharisees were largely concerned with what was on the outside of people. Jesus’ concern was with what was inside of people.

While it is certainly the case that external circumstances—what we’re taught, what we read, what we watch, can affect our lives for good or ill, Jesus makes clear that it really isn’t our environment, our circumstances, the things we’ve been exposed to that make us who and what we are. Rather, what we are is something that comes from inside of us: our human nature. The choices we might make to murder, to steal, to be evil in whatever way we might be evil, are our choices alone that grow from what’s in our hearts and minds. We cannot blame our circumstances or argue that we couldn’t help it, or that we were made that way by what happened to us. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

We may have had it rough in our lives. We may have had to struggle more than our peers. We may have lacked the advantages that our friends or neighbors had. But we can’t blame what we did with our lives on anyone else. If we want to, we can change our lives for the better thanks to Jesus. He can do great things with us, no matter what our circumstances.

Send to Kindle

About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
This entry was posted in Bible, Religion, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *