Friday, December 29, 2017

2017.12.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 7:1-23

Questions for Littles: Who come to Jesus in v1? Where did they come from? With what do they find fault (v2)? In what manner did they wash their hands (v3)? What else did they baptize (v4)? What did they ask (v5)? Does Jesus answer their question? Whom does Jesus say prophesied about them (v6)? What did Isaiah say they did with their lips? What did Isaiah say about their hearts? What did Jesus say about their worship (v7)? Where did their worship come from, that made it vain (v7, 8, 9)? What does v10 say God commanded? What do v11-12 say got in the way of obeying God’s command? What did Jesus say defiles a man (makes him unclean, v15)? When He explains this to His disciples in v20-23, what does He describe as the manner in which what comes out of us shows us to be unclean? What does Jesus say about all foods in v19? With whom are people disagreeing, when they try to keep the Old Testament food laws? 
In the Gospel reading this week, religious leaders are shocked at the disciples of Jesus because they don’t “wash hands with a fist” (literally) before eating.

“These backwards Galileans!” they must have thought—don’t they know that up in Jerusalem we have a well-established tradition that all Bible-believing Jews have followed for hundreds of years?!

Of course, the disciples are more interested in listening to whatever Jesus says—even if they don’t always understand it well. Jesus had to explain to them that with His coming, all foods are now declared clean. Jesus had to explain to them that the point of the food laws was to impress us with how easily we become unclean.

Jesus had to point out that our uncleanness is far worse than the food laws ever even pictured. Every sin that comes out of us does so precisely because our hearts are cesspools of filthiness. As a famous late preacher summarized, “We aren’t sinners because we sin; we sin because we’re sinners!”

Well, it’s one thing to struggle to grasp what Jesus is saying because we are dull-minded. The Pharisees and Scribes had a worse problem. Their struggle to grasp what Jesus said was because man-made religious ideas were so big to them that the commandments of God were small by comparison.

So Jesus puts them on notice: Isaiah 29:13 (cf. Col 2:22-23) was written about you! No worship or righteousness can ever be defined by the ideas of man. Only God can define what is true worship. Only God can define what is true righteousness.

Isaiah’s words are quite sharp. All worship that comes from the ideas of man instead of the command of God is “vain.” That means it is empty, invalid, and worthless. Following such practices shows that our “hearts are far from God.” Would you like for God to call your worship to Him worthless? Simply take something that man made up and treat it as if it is spiritually meaningful!

Worse, it will be a distraction from following what Jesus says to think and do. And we already have enough difficulty with that, don’t we?
What “Christian” ideas or practices were invented by men and not God? How can we squash the idea or feeling that such ideas or practices are spiritually meaningful?
Suggested songs: ARP119M “O How I Love Your Law” or HB253 “How I Love Thy Law, O Lord!”

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