Come Clean! – Mark 7:1-23 – Pastor Eric
Wash your hands and say your prayers Jesus and germs are everywhere. What a great reminder that to wash your hands and say your prayers, and what a great truth that Jesus is everywhere. This sign reminds us of this morning’s passage, because the Pharisees were very concerned about washing your hands.
They had built a religious way of life, which sadly is not God’s way. They have gone too far with their own tradition to hinder people from coming to God. In doing so, they had made tradition and religion, their god.
Sadly, at times, the church today has done the same and built a barrier around the gospel. The church has made tradition equal to the Word of God, and the church has created religious people rather than righteous people. At moments, the church has become Pharisaic and legalistic instead of loving and kind, and the church has ignored the greater issue, sin, by making the external imperative to save face.
Jesus addresses this timeless struggle of living a life of religion and tradition rather than living a life of worship. Jesus presses us to see this timeless truth that following Jesus Christ is about losing your religious and sinful ways in exchange for a heart of worship.
Following Jesus is about the heart of love rather than a heart of legalism, and we must lose the easy tendency to perform and do religion. Rather, we must but take hold of Christ and His ways.
(1) Following Jesus Christ is about a heart of worship, not a heart of religion. Following Jesus Christ is about loving Him and His Word over human words and ways. Following Jesus is not a religion but a love relationship with the Savior and Lord of the World. (Mark 7:1-9)
The Pharisees come to Jesus taking issue with the unclean hands of the disciples. They notice this issue most likely during the feeding of the five thousand that the disciples and followers of Jesus did not wash their hands before eating.
The issue of the Pharisees has nothing to do with good hygiene, because they are concerned about ritual purity and their religious tradition. It’s important to note that the Old Testament law did not require the washing of hands before eating. The Old Testament law did require the priests to wash their hands before entering the Tent of Meeting to offer sacrifice to the Lord.
Pharisees had taken the law a step further and applied something very specific to every single person. The practice of washing hands had become more than what God had intended and required. It had become a tradition of man, and anyone who didn’t follow the traditions of the elders would be considered unclean and unfit to worship God.
So, Jesus takes issue, and He addresses the Pharisees with deep criticism and concern, because they have taken a man-made tradition and made it gospel. Jesus rebukes them for leaving the commandment of God, replacing the commandment of God, and voiding it.
If we are honest with ourselves, it is easy to live a religious life rather than a Jesus life. It is easy to follow a set of rules and regulations or a religious check list than it is to follow the Word of God.
Let us remember that human tradition is not wrong in itself, but it can become wrong when you hold those traditions higher than God’s commandments and ways.
When you exchange man’s traditions for God’s commands, then the Christian life has become Pharisaic. We are no better than the people that Jesus rebuked and refuted time and time again. We must come to Christ and check our traditions and hearts!
(2) Following Jesus Christ is about a heart of worship, not a heart of sin. Jesus is deeply concerned with the issues of the heart. Jesus knows full well that corruption comes from within a person, not outside of a person. (Mark 7:14-23)
Jesus continues on with the theme that corruption of a person is not external but it is internal. The impurity of man is not a matter of the stomach or what you put inside of yourself, but it is a matter of the heart. The defilement of a person is not what goes into oneself when talking about what you eat or how you eat.
What Jesus is getting at here is something deeper and greater than food, He is getting at the basic problem of humanity, the depravity of the heart. The real filth lies inside a person, which will evidently show itself later in what we do or what we say or how we think. The sins of the heart will eventually be reflected in the sins of body.
Jesus is not concerned over the washing of hands or what you eat, but He is deeply concerned over the washing of hearts. This is why Jesus came to wash away your sin.
So that, the Spirit would give you a new heart, and a heart ready and willing to worship God. Jesus wants to restore your heart to a proper place of worshipping God, not self or sin.
There are a variety of ways that the heart can lie to us. Thus, we have to be diligent to check our hearts before Christ and His Word in order that we don’t fall into sin, but we live in love with Him.
Come messy and come unclean to Christ, and let Him clean you up. Come to Christ who washes away every sin by His precious blood to make us new and whole again. Come to Jesus who died for your sin to satisfy your heart and to give you the greatest joy you always longed for. (Psalm 51:10-13)
O Worship the King, Here I Am to Worship, The Heart of Worship, Doxology