Yesterday, the Pharisees criticized Jesus and the disciples for eating with unwashed hands. Today, Jesus responds and says that the condition of our hearts is far more critical than the dirt on our hands or the food we eat.
The crucial matter is the orientation of the human heart. In effect Jesus was saying that things cannot be either clean or unclean in any religious sense of the term. Only persons can be defiled – what defiles a person is his/her own actions, which are the product of the heart.
Every outward act of sin is preceded by an inward act of choice. Jesus does not come to perfect our manners but to cleanse us from within.