if you want to experience what he meant
saying- 89; not the cup's outside!
(latest updat: 30-04-2018)
Why do you wash the outside of the cup?
Do you not realize that he who made the inside
is the same one who made the outside?
The Talmud allowed a cup to be considered ritual purified when only the outside was
cleansed with water, whereas the inside could superficially be cleaned with
only a towel (Quispel, 2004). As such, this saying may be taken as Jesus protesting against
the nitpicking purity rules of the law, although Quispel (2004) finds
such stance unlikely. However, it is clear from various sayings that Jesus abhorred the piety
regulations as these created a sharp division amongst people, considering many as not acceptable
in the eyes of God, and consequently, even less so in the eyes of man. As Thompson (2005) pointed
out, "for Leviticus (21:17-23) “the blind and the lame” are a collective trope for those who are not
allowed to come close to Yahweh…they are unclean”. Spong (2007) argues that it is exactly
those diseases which Jesus so often cured in the gospel stories. In addition, Lev. 21:16-20
gives a whole list of “unclean” kind of people: The Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: ‘For the
generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the
food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame,
disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf,
or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.
No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food
offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God.
Caring for "the outside" is useless in search for the kingdom; it only distracts from the
appropriate way of seeking. Certain manners of outward show and behaving (including the
observance of rules, rites, and rituals) as signs of religious prestige may be alluded to here,
and they are of no use whatsoever. It is the right inner aptitude that counts. I think Jesus
touches here upon a fundamental issue in his teachings: adherence to the
Law and its derived regulations only requires an outward display of the proper behavior - the
cup's outside, which is not bad but which will not bring one any closer to the divine. Jesus
proclaims that it is not regulation-fulfilling proper behavior which counts, but an authentic,
devoted mental dispossession to be good people - the cup's inside. Allison (1998)
states: "Jesus relativizes the traditional teaching or practice by turning attention
to something more fundamental....(which) is one's inner condition as opposed to
an outward activity or circumstance"....."and this implicitly highlights the limitations of
the Torah". More specifically the saying may hint at the purifying ritual: cleansing the body is
of little use, when it is rather the mind that should be purified. Uro (2000) presents several
passages from Qumran scriptures with a similar message. Jesus might have been acquainted
with these, but we don’t no. Allison argues that such Jesus' strategy was inspired by his
self-conscious mission as an eschatological prophet, a presumption I cannot share. I think
it was somethingfundamentally different which prompted Jesus to both his behavior
and his teachings.
The Law was provided to bridle a stubborn human race, which, however, was originally
created "in God's image". Jesus wants us to "get back to the garden"!
No law whatsoever is of avail to that end. Besides, the Hebrew Law had created a distressing
and unworthy divisive between people, something that Jesus in his universal compassion,
Cleansing the cup's outside (living by the Torah) came first; Jesus' teachings came
last. Saying 4 and 89 have something in common, I guess.
Seeking the kingdom,
you should at least behave according to the
‘cleansed inside of your cup’,
which means to try and become just an authentically good person.
Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:39.