(Note: Pastor Ben has just begun a new sermon series that will run all the way through Easter. It takes us on a 60 Day Journey with Jesus as he appeared in the letters of the New Testament. Through seeing Jesus in the letters of the New Testament we will learn how the way of Jesus was lived out in the early church which in turn will help us better live out the way of Jesus as his people today.
This week’s Devotionals are borrowed from a series from a few years ago where the life of Christ was explored through the Gospel of Mark. Our Devotional set for the week corresponds well with Pastor Ben’s emphasis from Galatians. It should serve us well to see how the way of Jesus as he made it known when he was here manifests itself in the letter to the Galatians.)
The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” Mark 7:1-5
Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:
The Gospels were given to us so that we could share the experience of seeing the life of Christ as those who were actually there saw it during the time he went about representing and presenting the true kingdom of God. This mission of Christ’s kingdom had much to do with his revealing who he was as he came up against and exposed what wasn’t his kingdom. Anyone of those who were there to see this or anyone who sees this through the gospel writings today will find exactly what God intends for them as a result. However, this is conditioned on one’s willingness to let the true condition of one’s heart be exposed and revealed (more of this throughout the week).
In today’s passage the Pharisees and the scribes asked the perfect question of Jesus, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?” I have included below a closely related passage from the Gospel of Matthew to help us with the answer to this question:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:25-28).
Jesus does not have his disciples “walk according to the tradition of the elders” because his emphasis is “first clean the inside.” Jesus shows the emphasis of the scribes and Pharisees with these words, “you clean the outside.” He then tells why they have this emphasis with these words, “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” The rest of chapter 7 of the Gospel of Mark goes on to expose the nature of this fallacy quite thoroughly. Our take away for today (which was quite revolutionary in the setting in which Jesus put it out there) is this: the kingdom of God begins with one’s heart (“first clean the inside”) and extends to one’s life (“so that the outside of it may become clean also”).
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, continue to help me see clearly in your Word all that you represented and presented of your true kingdom when you were here. I want to follow you fully. Expose and reveal to me the true condition of my heart in whatever way will best help me receive the full benefit of who you are and what you came to accomplish in the hearts and lives of people. I know how prone I am to wanting to “appear” righteous before people more than I want to truly “be” righteous (inside and out). I trust you, Lord, for a “real deal” victory. Amen!