BLIND LEADERS OF THE BLIND
Matt 15:10-14 And He called the multitude, and said unto 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. Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Also see Matt. 15:15-20; Mark 7:14-23)
Jesus had just spoken specifically to the faultfinding scribes and Pharisees condemning them for observing the tradition of the elders (Vs. 2-3), which made the commandment of God of none effect (See Vss. 2-6). In the lesson text, Jesus invites the entire multitude of Jews to gather around Him that they may all Hear, and understand the pure word of God through His teachings. For centuries all that were reared in Jewish families and attended their religious services, feasts, and celebrations, were taught to hear and obey, not only the Law of Moses, but the traditions of elders that interpreted it and often altered its meaning. In most cases, these traditions took precedent over the written law. Jesus pleads to all Jewish people to hear His teaching and develop a different, and better, understanding of what is required from Jehovah. He wants them to understand that God required them, as well as us today, to obey His Holy Spirit-inspired word, rather than that coming from the minds of men and women of the world.
Jesus follows with this explanation: it is not that, which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. With this remark, Jesus again rebukes the traditions of the Jewish elders. In order to teach the moral purity required of God by His children, His law, given to Moses on Mount Sinai, forbade the children of Israel, the Jewish nation, from eating what He had established as ceremonially unclean. The Jewish "spiritual leaders" expanded this law to include impurities that were caused by the literal uncleanness of food and things that may contain it. Therefore, they required the physical washing of hands, dishes, and cooking utensils before preparing, serving, and eating meals. Jesus indicates, by His teaching, that a pure heart is far more important than clean food. Sure, one may eat a germ or a grain of dirt. Although it may not be advisable to do, but that doesn't defile a person; this is not what makes one's heart and mind impure. WhatI comes out of one's mouth - the things that are said which result from an impure heart and mind - these are the things that defileth a man (or woman). The literal interpretation of God's spiritual law often loses the moral effect, which He intended. This is exactly what occurred when the traditions of the elders made void God's laws, and it is exactly what takes place today when various "religious" organizations teach for doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. 15:9).
How it was expressed is not given here, but it is evident that the Pharisees let it be known in no uncertain terms that they were offended by Jesus' teaching, which condemned their traditional interpretation of God's Law. Jesus' disciples recognized their anger, and questioned Jesus about it. They asked the question: Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? As strict interpreters and enforcers of the traditional law, the Pharisees, who perceived themselves to be more holy and pious than all other Jews, refused to hear and accept any criticism of their actions and beliefs. When Jesus "offended" them with critical teachings, they were filled with resentment and became outraged.
To this Jesus replied: Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. What God desires to plant in the minds of all men and women of the world, is the gospel message of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. In His Holy Word we are able to find that same inspired message - He planted the necessary spiritual seed in His inspired New Testament revelation for our understanding. Any seed planted by men that is contrary to God's seed will not yield the spiritual plant He intended, that is, it will not become a believing, obedient child and follower of Christ. Regardless of the dedication and sincerity human teachers may possess, if they profess a doctrine that is contrary to that of God, it should be rooted up or corrected so it will not lead others astray from the truths found in the Word of God.
If these false teachers adamantly refuse to heed the correction found in the inspired testimony of God through Christ Jesus, then let them alone. Followers of Christ must learn to accept such opposition. There was then, there is now, and there will be in the future, "religious" men and women so dogmatically attached to their errant doctrine that the Godly teaching of Christ Jesus or His followers would not sway them. Jesus continues to say that they be blind leaders of the blind. The scribes and Pharisees that mislead other unknowing Jews astray will both be eternally lost. This fact Jesus described in a short parable: And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. "Religious" leaders that replace God's will with the "doctrines of men" and teach them to others, whether out of ignorance or purposefully, are spiritually blind men and women. They lead others that willfully follow them, and in doing so, they can rightfully be compared to the blind lead(ing) the blind. Both shall fall into the ditch and will be lost for eternity.
Continuing in verses 15-20, we find Jesus being highly critical of His apostles when they, too, could not understand His teaching. It seems that they, like the other Jews, could not understand the spiritual application of the parable He used to condemn the tradition of the elders, which compares them to the blind leading the blind. When this happens, the result is tragic - both shall fall into the ditch. Again admonishing the Jewish leaders for their temporal cleanliness when having a meal, Jesus assures them that spiritual cleanliness has nothing to do with eating physical food. It is not what entereth in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into a draught that is defiling to mankind. Rather it is the things that come out of one's mouth due to the condition of their heart that defile the man. Jesus gives us some examples of things said and done, which result from an evil heart and mind. 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.
Jesus wanted the Jews of His day, as well as all mankind thereafter, to know that blind teachers leading blind followers with corrupt commandments of men will inevitably lead both errantly away from the will of God - falling into the ditch of eternal destruction, and being forever lost. Be vigilant; know who you are following; try them, to determine if they are teaching the will of God or their own traditions, then follow God's Holy Spirit-inspired doctrine that will assuredly lead to eternal life.