Devotional #20 (2/11/13). Jesus criticizes Pharisees for being hypocrites and explains clean and unclean.
This is our 20th devotional! I wanted to remind everyone to ask any questions they may have on the Bible (both from the devotional or any other place). Also if you have other friends who would like to receive this please let me know.
Intro: Last week Jesus walked on water and healed many people. This week we’ll see Jesus explains what makes us unclean and clean. What is the standard that He has set?
This Week’s Reading: Mark 7:1-16.
vv. 1-4. Here the Pharisees judge some of Jesus’ disciples for not washing their hands before they ate. The Pharisees weren’t concerned with the disciples’ health (i.e. being sanitary) in fact there is a good chance the disciples had washed their hands just not in the ceremonial way the Pharisees did. The practice of hand washing does come from the Bible (see Exodus 30:17-21, etc.) “to teach [the priests] purity in all their ministries” (Source 1). Interestingly being clean kept the Jews from getting sick during the Black Plague. God provided a meaningful and hygienic practice but the ritual could never take away a person’s sin. Even now some within Judaism miss the point. For example “Some rabbis within Conservative Judaism advise non-married women who choose to engage in sexual activity to also observe niddah and immersion in a mikveh” (Source 2). These are forms of ceremonial washing but the Bible* is clear in that un-married people should not have sex. Like many people now the Pharisees were more interested in things they could do to feel religious instead of listening to Jesus and being transformed by His free gift.
*sex before marriage: 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9; Galatians 5:19 and others.
vv. 5-8. Notice that the Pharisees didn’t quote from the Bible and ask why Jesus didn’t follow that but they asked why He didn’t follow tradition. But Jesus does respond from the Bible. As always the Word of God is what we base our life on. So Jesus quotes from Isaiah 29:13 talking about the difference between trying to be religious and having a heart for God. All of us make mistakes but if we cling to traditions and think we’re saved from our sins through that God can’t work in us. But if we have a heart that is open for God to work in then He will, it may not always be approved by other people but if it’s from God it doesn’t matter.
vv. 9-13. Jesus responds, as He usually does, not just taking on the question but answering it by dealing with the more important issue. In this case it was that the religious leaders were misleading the people in the things of God and specifically in taking care of their parents. Jesus uses Moses (who the Pharisees respected and thought they obeyed) from Exodus 20:12 and Deut 5:16 about honoring parents. But the Pharisees were telling people if they had given “Corban” then they didn’t have to help their parents. “Corban” was “any gift or sacrifice of money or goods an individual vowed to dedicate specifically to God” (Source 3). But that was blatant contradiction to the Bible. The Pharisees were telling people that they could use the gift they were going to give to God to take care of their parents. Jesus says they did this with a lot of things which was really bad since they were supposed to explain God’s Word but instead they were using the Bible for their own personal gains.
vv. 14-16. Then Jesus gathers everyone together, now He’s not just talking to the religious leaders but to the many hurting people, the disciples and the religious leaders. When Jesus says “from outside which can defile him” He means it doesn’t make someone unclean if they eat pork, or dont ceremoniously wash their hands. (We’ll see a further explanation next week in Mk. 7:19). But “the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man” will be explained more in Mk. 7:21. Have you ever heard the American saying, “garbage in, garbage out”? That’s what Jesus is saying, if trash has been put into you then trash will come out and pollute you and others. He’s not concerned with proper food but what enters a man’s heart.
Jesus taught us what it means to be “unclean.” We all sin but we don’t get to do whatever we want or abuse our power (like the religious leaders) and then think doing a ritual makes it OK. Jesus is more interested in what our heart is like. Are we willing to listen to Him, have self-control and do what is right or do we act like we can do whatever we want? Jesus is telling us that’s not acceptable to God.
Source 1: Matthew Henry Commentary, NT, p. 104.
Source 3: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1474.