A modern English blending of the New Testament

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Jesus - A blending of the New Testament - Ch. 13 - washing before meals
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The dispute over washing before meals  -  Syrophoenician woman's daughter is healed  -  reading the "signs in the heavens"  -  the yeast of the Pharisees  -  a blind man healed.


From that time on, Jesus avoided Judea since the officials there wanted him dead.

Now, it was a long-established custom of the Jews to wash their hands carefully before eating and to clean cups, pots, and pans with great diligence. It so happened that a delegation of Pharisees and Sadducees had come from Jerusalem to see Jesus, and they noticed that his disciples ate without having first washed their hands.

"Why do your disciples flout the teachings of the elders and not wash before meals?" they asked.

"What hypocrites you are." Jesus said." Surely Isaiah was thinking of men like you when he wrote:

These people talk a great faith
But they don't practise what they preach.
Their worship is a fruitless thing,
Their teaching is the precepts of men.

"You people are more interested in following your traditions that in obeying God's commandments. For instance, Moses told you to honor your parents and warned that the man who reviles them would die. But what is your response? You teach that it is permissible for a son to say to his needy parents, 'Sorry, I can't help you. What I might have given to you has been dedicated to God.' The result is that in following your traditions God's will is nullified."

A crowd had gathered and he brought them in close. "Listen to me carefully," he said. "Nobody is defiled by food. The things that defile aren't the thing that go into a man; they're the things that emerge from him."

Later, inside the house, the disciples said to him, "Surely you realize that you offended the Pharisees by what you said?"

"Forget them," he said. "They're blind men, they're self-appointed guides, and when the blind guide the blind they both end up in the ditch. Don't be concerned about the Pharisees; nothing planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted."

Simon Peter spoke to him "Then please explain to us what you meant?"

"Didn't you understand either?" he said. "What a man eats can't defile his spirit because it merely goes into his stomach and is passed by the bowels." (In saying this he removed all food from the "unclean" list.) "It is the things that come from a man - base thoughts of fornication, adultery, and lasciviousness, coveting and theft, deceit and slander, arrogance, lying, folly - they are the things that defile. It has nothing to do with washing before meals."

Jesus left Galilee and went to the border area of Tyre. Although he traveled incognito, it was impossible to keep his presence secret. He had no sooner arrived than a woman who had heard about him -a Canaanitish woman, a Syrophoenician by birth - came to beg his help.

"Sir," she pleaded, "have mercy on me. Son of David have mercy on me. My daughter has a devil and she's in a terrible state."

Jesus made no response to her so she began to badger the disciples. They came to him.

"Will you please tell her to go away. She follows us around, pleading with us every day."

"No," he said, "I've been sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel."

The woman was not deterred. Again she came to him, "Please, sir," she begged, "help me!"

"But the children must be fed first," he said. "Would it be right to take food prepared for the children and throw it to the dogs?"

"No, sir," she said. "But even the dogs under the table are allowed to have any crumbs that fall from the children's hands."

"You have great faith, woman,"Jesus said to her, "Because if what you said you may have what you ask. The devil has gone out of your daughter."

The woman went home and found her daughter in bed asleep, with the devil gone.

He left the area, passing through Sidon but skirting Decapolis, and returned to the Lake Galilee area. A crowd quickly gathered, and someone brought a man who was deaf and tongue-tied to Jesus. He begged Jesus to heal the man. Jesus took the man's hand and led him away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man's ears, wet his finger with. his own saliva and touched it to the man's tongue. Then, raising his eyes, he sighed deeply and said," Open!" The man's ear's cleared, his tongue was loosened, and he was able to speak normally. Jesus gave him strict instruction to keep to himself what had happened but, as was usual, the man recounted it to everyone he met. The people were flabbergasted.

"There is nothing he can't do," they said. " He even cures the deaf and dumb!"

The crowds grew even larger. The people brought the sick from everywhere, placing them on the ground in front of him - the lame, the blind, the dumb, the crippled, and others. And as the people watched, mouths agape with wonder, he healed them and they praised God.

With the disciples, he took a boat and crossed to the area of Dalmanutha. There he was met by a group of Pharisees and Sadducees who put a series of questions to him in the hope of trapping him. All the while they challenged him to show them some sign from heaven, some validation of his ministry. He looked at them and heaved a great sigh.

"Signs from heaven? You're the experts at that. When the horizon is red and clouding over in the morning you say, `Oh, oh, bad weather today. And when the sky is red in the evening you say, `Fair weather ahead.' You can predict the weather from signs in the sky but you can't interpret the signs of the times. Why is the wicked and unfaithful generation always after proof? I repeat, you'll get no proof except the sign of Jonah."

He turned away, boarded the boat, and crossed the lake. When they were out in open water, the disciples realized that they had forgotten to lay in food and had only a single loaf of bread among them. While they were talking about it, Jesus broke in on them.

"Listen carefully," he said. "Be on your guard constantly against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

They looked at each other, perplexed. "What's he getting at?" they asked each other. "Is his reference to yeast a rebuke because we forget to bring bread?"

He overheard them. "How could you think such a thing?" he asked. "Are you so insensitive that you still don't understand? Think back. When there were five thousand people to be fed and only five loaves, how many basketful of leftovers did you gather?"


"You still don't understand? I was referring to the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which is hypocrisy. We have no need to be concerned about bread."

It was then they realized that he had been talking about the insidious, permeating nature of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Soon they landed at Bethsaida and were met by some of the villagers who brought them with them a blind man. They asked Jesus to healed him. Again he led the man away from bystanders and out of the village. He spat on the man's eyes and then placed his fingers on them.

"Do you see anything?" he asked.

"Yes. I can see men. They're like trees, only they're walking."

He put his hands on the man's eyes again. The man stared fixedly for a moment, then his vision cleared and he saw perfectly.

"Go straight home," Jesus told him. "Don't even go back to the village."
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