“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth ...’” (Matthew 15:16-20)

Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matt. 15:15-20)

Why does Jesus have to explain what he meant?

Jesus is further explaining the meaning behind his point about not what goes into a person's mouth defiles a person, but rather, what comes out of the person's mouth. Jesus' metaphor was responding to the temple ritual of the importance of washing the hands. Peter and others did not understand this metaphor.

Jesus is also distinguishing between what happens to the physical body versus what is going on within the person. This means there is a deeper person who is not affected by whether the body consumes something that is physically clean or it can be dirty (“defiled.”).

Consuming food that is unclean doesn’t affect the person within. This is because the person is not the physical body. This is what Jesus was trying to teach them: That we are not the physical body.

We are the spirit-person within these physical bodies. The cleanliness of this person within is reflected by their words. Words can defile a person because they can influence others in a negative way.

What does 'come from the heart' mean?

Jesus is clarifying the nature of our consciousness - coming from the person within. The concept of the "heart" according to Jesus is not about the physical heart within the body.

Jesus is referring to expressing those things that come from within our consciousness. For example, if someone speaks to another angrily or otherwise rudely, those words are coming from an angry heart.

But if we speak to others with love and joy, that reflects a loving heart.

Evil does not arise from a horned guy with a pitchfork from a fiery dungeon. Evil arises from a consciousness of self-centeredness.

These are being characterized by Jesus as being defiled because they relate to the character of the person within. If the person within - the spirit-person - wants to search for happiness within self-centered desires, this is being defined as being defiled.

This means that being clean, on the other hand, relates to the person within living within the potential of our innate identity: Our understanding that we were created by the Supreme Being and we are ultimately His loving servants and children. This is why Jesus' most important instruction was:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)