Today we are reading from Mark 7:1-20:
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.
We see Jesus having one of His all too familiar conflicts with the religious leaders. They are fussing at Him for how He and His followers do not wash their hands in a manner that they see fit. Now remember, Jesus is not breaking any of the Law or not following any commands given by God. What He is doing is this, He is not following their man-made rules in the manner that they would like.
They focus so much on the external, on the things that that people see, but that are not of the heart. They follow so much on following their rules, on what you do. But that is not the focus for Jesus. His focus is not on what you do, His focus is on who you are.
If you are following God, if you are drawing close to Him, then the outer actions will conform to the internal work of Jesus. We can do the “right” thing, but if our hearts harden and are not being conformed to God’s will and God’s spirit, then we will focus on the wrong thing.
The religious leaders were focused on their, not God’s, law. And their hearts became so hard that they couldn’t even see God’s revelation of Jesus. They were doing what they had convinced themselves was right. And they missed God.
It is what comes out that makes you unclean. Because it comes from the heart. It comes from who you are.
Draw near to God. Seek Him. Pray. Read scripture. Worship. Live for Him. An that will shape you. That will form you.
Who you are determines what you do. Inside out. May our hearts be conformed into God’s image. May our hearts be restored and may we live with grace.
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