When the temple scribes and devout Jews of Jerusalem asked Jesus:
Why do your disciples transgress against the traditions of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat bread.
He answered them with a rebuke:
Why do you transgress against the commandments of God with your traditions? For God commanded that we honor our fathers and mothers, and that one who curses father or mother should be put to death. But you say that whoever tells his father or mother that what he might have used to help them is a gift to God need not honor his father or his mother with it. So your tradition has made the commandment of God worthless. You hypocrites! Isaiah spoke of you when he said ‘These people draw near me with their mouths, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’
He then spoke to the crowd who had gathered, saying:
Hear, and understand: What goes into the mouth does not defile a man; that which comes out of the mouth is what defiles a man.
His disciples told him that the Pharisees were offended by this saying. Jesus answered:
Every plant that was not planted by the heavenly Father shall be rooted up. Leave them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
He went on to explain to the disciples that what enters through the mouth passes through the belly and leaves the body, but that what comes out of ones mouth comes from the heart — evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, bearing false witness, and blasphemy — are the things which defile a man. To eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.
Image by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum, Public Domain