“12 During this time when a crowd of many thousands had gathered together, so that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware for yourselves of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 But nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, and secret that will not be made known. 3 Therefore everything that you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12)
So there you go, someday we will know for sure who killed JFK. This passage however is not about dirty laundry. Dirty laundry rests on top of the skin. Even soiled undergarments are external. They are only unclean because of what has come out of us. Incidentally, the first time “inner rooms” is mentioned is in Judges 3 as a place where one does one’s private, defecatory business.
But that’s not what Jesus is talking about either. For, “Do you not understand that everything that is outside that goes into a person is not able to defile him? 19 For it does not enter into his heart but into his stomach, and goes out into the latrine”—thus declaring all foods clean.” (Mark 7) So what, justshane, besides potty talk, was with the first quarter of the Bible, all those sacrifices and clean and unclean foods about? Why all the attention to bodily discharges if that’s not important?
Because God is trying to get to things unseen and invisible. He gives us marriage to illustrate what our relationship with Him is like. He gives us children to further the illustration. And he gives us food: eating, digesting and yes, even expulsing to illustrate … our hearts.
From the moment Adam’s dust coagulated into a working stomach, food has been an issue of biblical proportions. It is no accident the first sin is punctuated by a eating a fruit. The heart lusts and the body consumes what it desires, the spiritual and physical are linked. Who knows? Maybe there was no real magic in the fruit at all, only a simple realization by Adam and Eve that they had made an irrevocable choice which changed everything. Sin isn’t the only use for perishable goods however, likewise, the model of our redemption comes through eating as well. The sin offering, the guilt offering, the fellowship offering, were all food; food meant to be consumed, some by the priest, some by the sinner. It could be eaten for two days, on the third however, anything left was burned; completely consumed by fire. Over and over, the Bible uses food to teach lessons and illustrate the covenant we have with God and more importantly, God has with us. Emeril Lagasse! Ezekiel and John were both told to eat the Word itself! Jeremiah said God’s Word was like fire in his belly if he shut his mouth. God must cook with habañeros!
But Jesus, Jesus is a baker.
Jesus is baking bread. Specifically, one loaf of bread. Well, maybe not so much a loaf because you see, Jesus doesn’t want this bread to rise and puff up on its own. He’s baking flatbread. Humble, utilitarian flatbread. What you see is what you get. Nothing hidden. Adam and Eve were naked and they were unashamed. This applied both inside and out. They hid nothing from each other and could hide nothing from God.
Then they bit it. You see, ever since the first bloody pulp of the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil hit Adam’s stomach, like leaven: a fungus that grows and spreads throughout a lump of dough fermenting it, sin worked through Adam’s insides until it filled him, changed him…on the inside. Outside, he was still just a naked dude but the change within affected a change without. He was now a naked dude with shame! With sin! He had tried to become God and all he found out was he wasn’t God. The very first thing he tries to do is hide. Hide what’s inside! Hide his nakedness with fig leaves. Hide his body and soul in the garden. Hide his deeds with blame-shifting. Hypocrisy! Everyone is at fault but me! I’m okay!
And that pinch of leaven, that pulp of fruit has worked its way through the whole loaf of humanity, every fruit of Adam’s loins has been born with sin percolating inside already. “20 And he said, “What comes out of a person, that defiles a person. 21 For from within, from the heart of people, come evil plans, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, acts of greed, malicious deeds, deceit, licentiousness, envy, abusive speech, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” (Mark 7) We’re defiled. It’s already in us. Like the Pharisees, all our best efforts now, all our religion, all our self-justifications are fig leaves crudely sewn together to hide our shame, blame shifting and denial of what’s inside.
“6 And we all have become like the unclean,
and all our deeds of justice like a menstrual cloth,
And we all wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities take us away like the wind.” (Is 64)
Do you know what you do with flatbread dough which has begun to ferment? Do you know how to recover it? You don’t cuz it can’t. You chuck it and start over. There will be no sin in paradise. There couldn’t be, it wouldn’t be paradise if we were still there mucking it up! All of us will be chucked into the fire outside the gates.
Instead of chucking us, God chucked Jesus. The only incorruptible, unleavened lump of dough there was became our sin. He was slain. His body consumed and after three days God raised him up and seated him on a throne, “5 And the one seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” (Rev 21) “5 (I)n the same way we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another…” (Rom 12) We now take his body into us and the process is being reversed! We are being added to his dough and he is not corrupted, we are instead, healed! Like a potter molds clay, Jesus is kneading us together, mashing us up into a community, one body, one bread. The Bread of Life.