Tyler David speaks on Mark 7:1-23
Series: The Gospel of Mark
Jesus is going to teach us about our heart, the center that drives all that we think, feel and do. He’s going to teach us that all of our sin, problems, and dysfunctions ultimately come from our own hearts.
The problem is in us.
Our world around us is aware that something is not right. Everybody knows things are not as they should be. We all agree that something is broken and things need to change. But the ethos of humanity and especially of our culture is that our sins, problems and dysfunctions are mostly due to somebody else.
We are constantly told the reason we have issues is not due to our own faults but because of somebody else’s faults.
Jesus teaches contrary to this. Regardless of all the external evil influences that we may encounter, ultimately our sins comes from us, from the core of who we are.
We are worse than we think.
Jesus is the only one that can provide an adequate solution.
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (ESV)
The Pharisees are questioning Jesus about ceremonial hand washing that they say is required before eating. They’re asking him why He is disregarding their teaching and saying something contrary.
They were teaching their community that if they didn’t wash their hands as a way to honor God before they ate, then they would be unclean and defiled before Him and would need to be restored back to the community and to God.
In the first five books of the Bible we see all these rules, regulations and requirements that God puts on His people. There are six hundred and thirteen different laws they had to obey. If they failed to obey them, they would be in need of restoration back to God and His people.
In order to understand all these laws and regulations, we need to understand God’s purpose in them. God sets them to teach His people and the surrounding nations that He is distinct and different from every other god. He is holy and you can’t approach Him haphazardly and whimsically like He’s just another person. When you approach Him, you’re approaching someone different.
The word that most faithfully, fully and most accurately describes God is holy. It describes all that He is. God is love. God has power. God has all knowledge. But, His love is a holy love. His power is a holy power. His knowledge is a holy knowledge. He is distinct and set apart.
God never told His people to wash their hands before they eat. They didn’t have to be ritually clean in that way. The Pharisees took this from a rule that God set where the priests were meant to wash their hands.
God told Aaron and his sons before they came into the tent of meeting -- where God’s presence dwelled -- that they need to wash their hands and feet. But the Pharisees wanted to be devout and decided to take that rule and put it on themselves and the people. So they act like it was a rule that God placed upon His people.
The Pharisees come to Jesus and claimed they were trying to be devout and holy. They then asked Jesus why he didn’t want the same thing. Why did He disregard this teaching and not want to be devout like them?
The Pharisees had missed what God had said and what He was after. God wasn’t just after their behavior modifications. He was after their hearts.
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:613 (ESV)
He wastes no time. He knows what they’re about and goes straight to the heart of the matter. The first thing He does is call them hypocrites.
He then quotes Isaiah and says they’re just like their fathers. He tells them they’re outwardly acting like they love Him and know Him, but they really don’t. Its all surface level.
They said all the right things. They told of their unfailing love for God and how great He was. But there was not truth in their hearts. They didn’t feel the things they were saying, they were just doing what they were suppose to do. It wasn’t true in their hearts. Their hearts were far from Him.
So they began to confuse what was God’s word and what was their word. They began to take away from God’s word and add to it.
Truth be told, they didn’t like His words and so they added to it. They began to create a god in their own image.
They mistake traditions as commandments because their hearts don’t want this God.
How much of our church lives is us just saying the right things? We sing songs that we know we should feel something for, but we really don’t. Nothing in us is actually being moved, but we do it because we think its what God wants.
That is not what God is after.
Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees shows us that God is after hearts, not just lip service.
He wants our hearts, not behavior modification.
God is after worshippers. People who orient their entire life around Him, because they delight in Him and actually want Him.
We see this clearly in John, chapter 4.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:2324 (ESV)
God is seeking worshippers. Not hypocrites.
The Pharisees missed this and thought God wanted clean hands. They thought God wanted them to do the rituals correctly. They thought He wanted overt demonstrations of supposed holiness.
He wants hearts that revere Him and love Him.
We get this. None of us want the people that we love to just do the right things with no affection or love for us.
My four year wedding anniversary is coming up. Imagine I planned a weekend get away. I take care of the babysitter, book the flights and hotel. We get to some trendy city and go to all these cool restaurants, suffering through musicals for her, doing anything she wants. But what if when we get to the end and my wife asks me why I did all of this for her.
That is the moment I should respond saying, “Because I love you. I’m crazy for you. It’s a joy to do all these things for you.” That is what I’m suppose to say. All of us would want that response. But imagine if I responded by saying, “Because its what I’m suppose to do. I didn’t want you to get mad at me.” Imagine how crushed she would be. The entire weekend would be ruined and would mean nothing. Why?
Because your actions, no matter how great the sacrifice, if they’re not rooted in love toward the person you’re doing them for, they’re weightless. They don’t mean anything.
The same is true for God. He’s not after people who just come to church and do the right things, but with hearts that don’t want Him.
God is not after your church attendance, your Bible reading, your good behavior.
God wants to be your greatest thought.
He wants to be your greatest desire that you pine over and think about constantly.
He wants you to organize your entire life around having Him.
The problem is that the very thing God is after is the very thing that leads us away from Him.
Right after Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, He calls together the crowds and teaches them about how they’re defiled and wicked, due to their hearts.
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:14-23 (ESV)
The first thing he says is that he agrees with the Pharisees; we’re defiled. He agrees that the crowd is unfit and unclean before God.
But, Jesus says that we’re not unclean and defiled because we didn’t wash our hands. We’re unclean and at odds with God because of our hearts.
It’s the heart posture, not the external actions, that are the problem.
We are worse than the Pharisees would have us believe. They act like they take sin very seriously, because of their overt demonstrations and practices. But the truth is their view of sin is very low and small. They think that they’re sin is rooted in particular negative actions and poor technique.
They believe they can fix their sin with just washing their hands.
Our problem with God is not that we mess up from time to time. Our problem with God is that we are messed up.
Jesus does not say that we’re basically good people who just make mistakes. He says that we’re bad, dead people, bent on sin and rebellion against God.
None of us think that we’re that bad. You can tell by how often we are unmoved and unimpressed by the Gospel.
On most days we don’t think that if it wasn’t for Jesus, we would deserve hell forever. We don’t think like that.
We believe our sin is manageable and can be fixed...if we just had the right techniques or three step formula for success.
We think that all we need is just a teacher to make us better, not necessarily a savior to make us new.
Our lives scream how untrue this is. Our lives are testimonies that our sin is not an external problem, but an internal one.
We believe we would be different if our circumstances were different. We think, “If I was in a different position, I wouldn’t have anxiety, or fear, or anger. If I had more money or a better spouse or a better church, I wouldn’t be this way, I would be different.”
I thought that ministry would fix me. When I first started coming to the Austin Stone, I was a teacher. I thought God was calling me to be a pastor. I was currently working at a job that I hated. I spent hours fantasizing what life would be like if I just got that pastor job that I felt I was being called to. My anxiety would go away. My insecurities would be gone.
Well, I got that job. It was so deflating to realize that I was no different in this position than I was before. All the things I struggled with previously were still there. I was still anxious and insecure. This job was suppose to fix me.
The problem wasn’t my circumstances. The problem was my heart. That is still my problem.
You can change cities, jobs, houses, relationships, churches. You will still be you. We spend most of our time reshuffling our circumstances, hoping to get a better result.
We have all these different ways to try to fix our hearts. Maybe for a season those sins will fade away, but they will come back. Because our heart is the problem, not our circumstance.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. James 1:14 (ESV)
All those things that destroy us come from our hearts. From inside, not outside.
This is where Mark stops. Jesus teaches that we’re all evil, drops the mic and walks off the stage. That’s all He has to say. The people are waiting for Him to give them instruction on what to do. They’re waiting for the five step plan on how to fix themselves.
He doesn’t offer them a solution.
Jesus doesn’t offer a solution, because He’s on His way to becoming the solution. His becomes our solution in Mark 15 when He goes to the cross and dies for our sin.
He has to fix us. He purifies our hearts, giving us new hearts so the Holy Spirit of God can give us new desires.
Jesus didn’t come to just make you a better rule follower.
He came to make you new.
We don’t need a five step plan. We need His death and resurrection.
This is why when God shows us our sin. His command is simply to repent. Go to God and confess to Him in prayer that you cannot fix yourself and acknowledge that only Jesus can fix you.
We don’t spend our time repenting. We spend our time lamenting over it, feeling sorry for ourselves or trying to forget it.
What we’re doing is being just like the Pharisees. We believe that some sort of external action, whether lamenting or forgetting, will fix the problem.
We need to recognize that its not an external action that we need. Rather, we need to acknowledge our inability to fix ourselves. We need to repent and confess our need for Jesus.