Daily Scripture ReadingJohn 14

Verse of the Day – Matthew 15:16
So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding?

Devotional Thoughts

Peter has asked Jesus to explain the parable even though it seems that the parable is really not all that mysterious. Jesus had in fact already explained what He was saying – the tradition of the elders was wrong, because how and what you eat does not defile you. What is so hard to understand about that?

But Peter and the others did not understand. They could not grasp the truth here. They themselves were bound in tradition. And so Jesus’ question hits right at the heart of their dilemma. “Are you also still without understanding?” Did they still not get it? What we eat does not defile us! It is what comes out of our mouths that defiles.

Why was this so difficult to understand? Well, let us think about that for a moment. Peter and the disciples were Jews. They believed the Scriptures and had grown up under the religious influence of the Old Covenant. And what does the Old Covenant say about food? There were rules, laws, and restrictions about what foods were clean and which were unclean. And eating an unclean food made you unclean. It defiled you!

Wait a minute. Was Jesus speaking of eating forbidden foods? No. Jesus was not changing the Law. He was not amending the Old Testament. He was not endorsing the eating of any unclean food whatsoever. What He was doing was shining the light of truth upon the darkened understanding of men who were bound by extra Biblical traditions that had been crafted by men. And the disciples got lost in the discussion.

This was not about what made you ceremonially clean or unclean. It was about the truth that this tradition had no basis in fact and no foundation in Scripture. There was never any divine revelation to back up the accusation of the scribes and Pharisees that to eat with unwashed hands caused defilement.

This was about sin. And eating a food, any acceptable food, without washing ones hands does nothing to defile! It is not a sin to eat without washing your hands. It may be poor manners and a little on the unsanitary side, but it is not a sin (unless your mother has told you to wash your hands before you eat and then in that case to disobey her is to sin indeed – Eph 6:1).

Jesus was looking at the heart. He was focusing attention on the root cause of sin. But the disciples missed it. They did not understand. They did not discern this simple truth even as He explained it. And so they questioned Him. And His response was one of surprise. You can also hear a little exasperation in what He says.

“Are you also still without understanding.”

In looking at what He says we see that there was a time that the disciples had been without understanding – and Jesus is saying they should be past that time now. We are all at some point in our lives without understanding. We will not understand specific things and might even not understand the big picture. When we are immature we cannot understand. But we are expected to grow out of it!

But He also uses the word “also.” He lumps them in with the crowd, with the scribes and Pharisees. Are you also, along with these, still without understanding? It seems that by this time, after traveling with Jesus and ministering with Him and hearing His teaching, that they would have grown past this level of mis-understanding. But they had not. They still, they also, did not understand.

Jesus rebukes them often for this – for having little faith or for not understanding. He asks, “Have I been with you so long, and yet……” There is a genuine expectation on His part that by now, after all this time, they should be getting it! But they were only human and they did not understand. They loved Him. They trusted Him. But sometimes they just did not get it.

Are there times that you just don’t get it? You read a passage of Scripture and wonder what in the world that it means? That is okay! While we do not want to stay in a place of not understanding, it is not unusual for us to misunderstand. That is why we must rely upon the Holy Spirit and upon those God has given us to teach and disciple us. These same disciples, remember, were timid, scared, and did not understand, but after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost they boldly turned the world upside down with the gospel.

If you come to a point where you think Jesus is saying, “Are you also still without understanding?” then it is time to humble yourself, pray, get back in the Word, and search out the truth. God tells us that we would seek Him and find Him when we seek for Him with our whole heart. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Be persistent. Keep at it. We will not understand it all in this lifetime – but the more we do understand the Word of God the more we learn about Jesus and the better we know Him.

And why do we grow? To glorify God. So that when people see our good works they might praise God and give Him the glory He deserves. Are you without understanding? Go to the source – the Word of God illumined by the Spirit of God will help us understand!

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

An Instructive Truth by Charles Spurgeon
How to Study Your Bible by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Proverbs 9
Proverbs 15

Recommended Songs for Worship

Hide God’s Word in Your Heart
We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes