Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mark Chapter 7

Our perception often defines our reality. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. In the case of the Pharisees, it was a bad thing. Our own short-sightedness can be our downfall. We see that here with the Pharisees as they simply refused to open their eyes and see the big picture as far as Christ is concerned. They were so caught up in tradition and the laws of man that they feared any deviation. To them, change meant a potential loss of power, even if it meant surrendering to the power that they supposedly followed.

9And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' 11But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

14Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.' "

17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

20He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

This is a large section, but it makes a very good point. The point here is that the word of God trumps anything that man can come up with. The Pharisees were trying to say that man can become unclean by things he consumes or touches. Quite frankly, this is ridiculous. Jesus points out how ridiculous this is because food cannot possibly tarnish the heart or the spirit. This is what matters in the eyes of the Lord. That which taints is already inside of us because man’s heart is already tarnished.

This is why we have a need for Christ. Jesus made His point here so we would see that need. It is not what we physically do that is important. It is where our hearts are that decides our fate. The Pharisees clearly did not have their hearts in line with God because they were more concerned with maintaining the status quo. Instead of listening to Jesus, they viewed Him as a threat. Jesus came to earth to set about change, but like many people in power, they viewed that change as wrong.

The beautiful lesson in this is that there is still hope for us. Though we are corrupted, we can be cleansed. Just as we cannot be physically made unclean, it is not a physical cleansing that guarantees our salvation. It is, instead, a spiritual one. That spiritual cleansing can only come from the blood of Christ. It is a gift freely given, but it must be accepted.

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