Are you a “Foodie”? Do you love to try new flavor combinations, food trends and foods from other cultures? Do you love to go to restaurants that have “tasting menus” where the chef makes what he can with the ingredients he gets fresh and you get small plates of lots of different dishes? No matter how adventurous or not you are with food, we all know that food is a basic need in life and the human body can’t survive long term without it. God is such a beautiful teacher in using something as common and known to ALL people throughout time as food to teach us about His principles and His economy. Let’s look at Mark 7 together and see how God is speaking to us this morning.
Again the Pharisees are following Jesus around trying to trip him up and get him out of their lives for good so they can go back to “running” religion for the people. While they are hanging around they notice that some of Jesus disciples didn’t follow the ancient tradition of ceremonial washing of hands before eating. Lets be clear, this tradition had nothing to do with dirty hands. It was all about thinking that this ceremony cleansed them from any contact they might have had with anyone or anything that was considered unclean. It was important to them to appear pure. While “hand washing ceremonies” don’t feel very relevant to our lives today, I wonder if we don’t struggle with the desire to appear pure at certain times and in front of certain people in our lives. The note in my Bible for this passage points out that sometimes Christians worry (sort of like the Pharisees in this passage) that contact with unbelievers, “worldly” places where sinners hang out, books, or speakers who’s ideas don’t conform to theirs might contaminate or pollute their faith. While I see that the Bible is clear about not soaking our lives with contrary (to the Bible) teachings and not choosing unbelievers to be our closest confidants and counselors, Jesus example over and over was to go out into the world and make contact with the people who needed Him most. He went to the people who were hurting, the ones sick with socially unlovely diseases, the ones selling themselves to make a living, the ones stealing from others for their own gain, (Matthew, one of his disciples) people who were culturally different from His earthly birth…how many times have we seen in the Bible His message that His gift is for EVERYONE? Jesus didn’t intend for us to purity ourselves (which we can’t anyway) and withdraw from others who are not likeminded. He wants us to reach out. He wants us to have real relationships with others so they have the opportunity to see Him in us. So who am I going to, reaching out to, meeting with, building relationship with so they can see and feel the love of Jesus?
Jesus conversation continues with the Pharisees and His disciples. He keeps teaching them what is important to God and what traditions the Pharisees have twisted from the law to serve themselves. By verse 14, Jesus calls the crowd to come and hear from Him so they won’t be confused by the Pharisees twists around clean and unclean foods. He tells them that it’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart. Even the disciples were unsure how to proceed on this issue because after they got away from the crowd and into the safety and quiet of a home, they asked Jesus if he would explain what He meant. So He said to them, “ Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through your body. It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” The confusion was over which set of “laws” they were to be following. Jewish law had a list of clean and unclean foods that were to be strictly followed to be obedient to God, plus we learn in this chapter that the Pharisees were changing the “rules” to suit their own needs and preferences. They were getting bogged down in food rules when Jesus was trying to teach them about their hearts. It is easier for us to see Jesus point here because we have the advantage of seeing and knowing the rest of the Bible. We know how it ends! God cares about the condition of our hearts more than anything. Instead of talking about food for our bodies, He wanted those He was talking to and those of us reading these verses to realize that we “feed” our hearts every day by what we spend our time on. So what am I filling my mind and heart with? Am I thinking about what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable or am I floating through life letting my world and my surroundings soak into my heart? There is a difference between going into the world with the purpose of taking Jesus to those who don’t know Him and letting your heart be changed by the world around you because you are not paying attention to what is soaking into your mind. Jesus knows that where our hearts are, our money, time and energy end up too. He is asking us to pay attention to what we allow into our minds. I want today to spend my thought time and energy on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable.