Monday, December 5, 2011

Matthew, Chapter 15: But mom! Jesus says I don't have to wash my hands

The Pharisees are about again, with their strongest argument yet for not following Jesus: he and his followers transgress the tradition of the elders, for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (v. 2) That shit is gross, yo, especially in a culture that doesn't have things like clean running water or antibiotics.

Jesus has a counter-argument of course: the Pharisees defy god's traditions when they don't kill children who fail to honour their parents. Pharisees: 1, Jesus: 0. And wash your damned hands before you prepare or eat food.

Jesus stews over this argument for a bit, then decides to go for victory in numbers. He calls his multitudes over and tells them Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (v. 10-11) Nevertheless, wash your damned hands before you prepare or eat food. Then he comes out with one of his less charitable parables: Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (v. 14)

Peter asks him to explain himself, and even Jesus is exasperated at this point, but he explains: those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the 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 unwashen hands defileth not a man. (v. 18-20) Um, yes it does, Jesus. Eating without washing your hands is disgusting and can make you sick.

Jesus gets tired of arguing and goes over to Tyre and Sidon, where he is immediately accosted by a Canaanite woman whose daughter is possessed. He ignores her and she follows him, wailing loudly. The disciples are annoyed and ask him to send her away, and he answers I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (v. 24) She starts grovelling at his feet, and he says he's stretched thin as it is, and helping her would be taking his much-needed resources away from his flock. She still won't shut up, so finally he heals the daughter just to make her go away.

Next he goes up a mountain. And people gather round with the sick and injured. He heals them and they start to worship him.

Three days later, everyone is still worshipping, but food supplies have run drastically low. So he repeats the loaves and fishes trick, then leaves for Magdala.

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