Daily Scripture Reading John 14

Verse of the Day – Matthew 15:11-12
“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”

Devotional Thoughts

Sometimes the truth hurts! Sometimes we wish we could get away with a lie rather than tell the truth because the truth can be offensive. To come right out and tell the truth can wound feelings and damage relationships. And some people out there, all in the name of so-called apologetics, love to use the truth hurtfully. They enjoy hurling the truth at people and watching them recoil in offense.

Jesus was not that kind of apologist. Neither is any other apologist who is any good at what he does! Jesus, just as the prophets, the apostles, and other authors of Scripture, simply identified the problem and stated the truth in response. Here in our text we have seen that there was a tradition of men that had been taken to such extremes that it was being used to try and void the very Word of God. Among the many lessons we are able to learn from the account of this event, today we will focus on the offensive truth.

Jesus stated a fact. He contradicted the tradition of the elders, scribes, and Pharisees. Their doctrine, their commandment, was of human origin and was not equal to the Word of God. Neither was their tradition true. It was a lie. It was a fabrication. It was an addition to the Word of God in a man made attempt to make the Law more easy to follow when in reality this legalistic manuevering only clouded the issue and masked the true nature of indwelling sin.

And so Jesus said, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” This is truth. And Jesus will expand on the exact meaning of what He was saying later in the text. But for now He simply states the truth. He did not say, “You are all wrong and I am right. You are all idiots and I am brilliant. You are all morons and I have figured out the truth!” No. There were no theatrics, no pride, no accusations. He simply stated the truth.

The Pharisees and scribes claimed that to eat with unwashed hands caused defilement. Jesus replied that it was not how or what we eat that defiles us, but what comes out of the mouth – that is the trouble! And in contradicting the tradition of the day and the teachers of the day, Jesus’ words caused offense! But please note, it was not He Himself who was offensive in the way He presented the truth. He did not malign, or curse, or shock. He did nothing to offend in His manner or the words He used. And yet the truth was offensive.

When He stated the truth His disciples confided to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” The Pharisees did not like the truth. They were offended. They found what He said bothersome. They were irritated with the words He spoke. The disciples may have been concerned, or perhaps they did not think He knew they were offended by His reply. After all, there was nothing in the way He said it that was offensive.

Too often today we miss this lesson. There are preachers and apologists and seminary professors who offend with the way they say things. Instead of seeing that the Word of God, the truth, is in and of itself offensive to fallen, deceived, and sinful men they think that they must be “bull dogs” for the faith. I prefer to think of these blusterous windbags as snapping turtles who snap and snarl but hastily retreat into their shell if a true threat comes along!

They offend by virtue of their unpleasant personality, their pride, their own unteachability, and their utter and obvious ignorance! For even as they try to stand up for the truth they prove by their very manner that they haven’t the foggiest notion about what truth really is. They are clueless. In fact, the Bible says that they have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. And powerless godliness is really only ungodliness!

Again, Jesus did not offend by the way He said things. The offense was the truth itself. Those who were offended and recoiled in disgust did so when their tradition was attacked and disproved by a simple statement of truth.

We should not be surprized when the people around us react to the truth. The truth runs contrary to popular thought, fads, and self aggrandizement. And we should strive when presenting the truth to do so with love, grace, humility, and compassion! For if the way we present the truth is offensive then we become the issue and take the focus off of the truth.

If we have an opportunity to tell the truth, we should. And we should do so carefully! We should make every effort to see that it is the message and not the messenger that is offensive. We add nothing to the truth by presenting it in an offensive manner. The truth will offend. We should never offend! For if we do, we discredit the very truth we tell.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Honey in the Mouth by Charles Spurgeon
A Shocking Truth about the Making of Disciples by Phillip M. Way

Bible Reading For Further Study

Psalm 19:14; 119:103, 130; Proverbs 4:4-5
Psalm 31:18; 34:13; 51:15; 141:3; Proverbs 10:21, 32; 14:3; 15:7; 18:6-7

Recommended Songs for Worship

The Mouth of Fools
Speak for Jesus