Wednesday we looked at the concept of tradition we found in Mark 7:1-23, today we’ll look at some of the specifics of what happens in this text:
The Tradition of the Elders
7 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God — 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Jesus point in all of this is this. It’s what on the inside that causes the outward action to happen. Our faith, at its heart, is a matter of the heart. We are an inside out religion. What happens in the heart, what happens in our faith that will show itself in our actions.
Here’s the thing, like I like to tell my church, if Jesus has your heart, He will have your actions. He just will. If He is Lord of your heart, He will become Lord of your actions.
But you can “do” right, and not “be” right. And if you are not right, in time, you will stop acting right. Because our heart always determines our actions. For us, as Christians, it starts internally. And it shows itself externally.
In this passage, He is saying that the people are honoring God with their words, but their hearts are far away. And in time, their words will move as well. Their words and their actions will follow their heart.
So, the first, and the main question is this. Where is our heart? That question truly does determine everything else. That question answers all the other issues that we will face.
We are an inside out religion. Never forget that. Never put the cart before the horse. If Jesus is Lord of our heart, He will become Lord of every area of our life.
Today, may that be so.
Monday we’ll look at Mark 7:24-30.
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