Are You Without Understanding?

March 1, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:15-20).

The word “parable” can mean a dark or obscure saying. (Psalm 78:1-2) Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old. . . . So, Peter’s request was not out of line.

Mark 7:17-23 (the parallel passage) says the disciples asked Jesus, not Peter. But there is no contradiction here. The question was asked by Peter in the name of the disciples, or several of them asked the question, even though Matthew named only one. An omission is not a contradiction.

What Jesus had said previously (v. 11) is clear to us, but to the disciples just coming out of Judaism, the teaching of Jesus was obscure, even confusing. Several commentators contend that Jesus’ response to Peter was a rebuke. I don’t believe so. It was an appeal to their commonsense.

Did Jesus wonder why they had not yet learned to judge the foolish traditions of the Jews? No. If He could read the thoughts of the Pharisees and Scribes (Matthew 9:1-4), He could surely know the struggle that was going on in the hearts and minds of His disciples.

Judaism and the traditions of the elders was all the disciples knew. The words of Jesus countered all of that. By appealing to their commonsense Jesus wanted His disciples to discern the difference between Pharisaic traditions and spiritual truth.

Jesus was, and is a great teacher. He took the time and went the extra mile to explain to the disciples the issue in terms they could understand. Spiritual principles are not easy to grasp. Jesus understood that about the disciples. He understands that about us. That’s why He has not only left His Word for us to read, but He has given His Holy Spirit to speak to us, explain to us, and lead us in understanding not only what His Word says, but what it means and how to apply it into our lives.

“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your compassion and understanding. Thank You for Your patience with me and for going the extra mile to help me understand what would otherwise be impossible for me to understand without Your help. I am grateful for Your love, Your grace and mercy which are all beyond measure. I praise You now and forever. Amen.”


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