My craft room has become a little mask factory, as we prepare for returning to public worship services and the need to supply masks. Some good friends have supplied fabric remnants and extra hands for the work, and I am grateful!
There’s been some confusion about how much our cloth masks really help in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and the prevailing reason for their use is to keep our own germs from others and train us to touch our own faces less. Object lessons abound these days!
At a certain time in Jesus public ministry, He got the crowd’s attention when He said, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes hm unclean.” (Matthew 15:10-20) So the most serious problem wasn’t what might be taken in, but what might be coming out!
You see, there had been nit picking from the religious about washing up, while other rules were conveniently being set aside. Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy and quoted the prophet Isaiah:
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. (verses 8 and 9)
The disciples weren’t getting it, and Peter, specifically asked for an explanation. “Don’t you see,’ Jesus said, “that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’ but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean.’ (v. 17)
In a spiritual sense, the “germs” we most need to be concerned with are those of the sin nature that infected all of Adam’s descendants. No amount of hand washing, mask wearing, or social distancing will remedy these matters of the heart. Only repentance will do.
In contrast to the Pharisees, the very next story in scripture is that of the Canaanite Woman who begged Jesus to deliver her demon-possessed daughter. (15:21-28) “Have mercy on me, Lord,….Help me!” Jesus responded to her faith and granted her request. He will do the same for all who sincerely cry out for mercy.