Review of Mark 7

Review of Mark 7

by Victor Fawole

Welcome back to our “No Bible, No Breakfast” spiritual exercise. Our journey through the book of Mark has been exciting and insightful – giving us a deep look into the Divine and Human Personalities of our Lord Jesus. Mark 7 is another chapter that leaves us with a lot to feast on. Let us explore:

Mark 7:1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.

If there’s one thing Jesus would never shy away from, it is the “battle” that religiously-minded lugubrious folks bring to Him. Mark 7 begins with one such battle. Jerusalem is what we can call the international headquarters of the Pharisees and Scribes. Whenever there’s a prophet making waves, they’d send a “delegation” to carry out an assessment on the authenticity of such minister and his ministry, so as to protect Israel from a potential false prophet/messiah. They definitely wouldn’t spare Jesus of their scrutiny. They had confronted Him earlier in Mark 3, accusing Him of being demon-possessed – and Jesus called that the unpardonable sin! Mark 7 presents another “official delegation” of these religious leaders from Jerusalem. They did not come to be fed with the Word but to find a fault with the Lord.

A. The Pharisees came with a CONFRONTATION!
Mark 7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

Their criticism was unscriptural. Washing of hands before eating was their human tradition, not commanded by Scripture. These guys knew this, yet they criticized the disciples for not obeying their traditions. Hand washing was a purely ceremonial. In fact, “this is but one of many traditions they have clung to” (v. 4 NLT). Jesus invites people into rest (Matt. 11:28-30), while the Pharisees are strict on many traditions, making religion a heavy burden and not a delight. No wonder Jesus lashed out at them…

Luke 11:46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

Examining their question properly, one would see that they did not ask to get information but to incriminate Jesus. Since He was their Master, they held Him responsible for “violating the traditions”.

B. Jesus countered them with a CONDEMNATION!
Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

He started by revealing the hypocritical conflict between their lip service and true worship. Jesus consistently called out hypocrites and exposed them for who they truly were. I love how The Living Bible puts it: “These people speak very prettily about the Lord but they have no love for Him at all. Their worship is a farce, for they claim God commands the people to obey their petty rules.” Jesus validated Isaiah’s prophecy – it was 100% on point! Our heart is the most important aspect of our worship, not our bowed heads or bent knees (although they are not bad), not our gloomy faces or rigid postures, not our dances or loud amens. The eyes of God look further and deeper. He requires the worship of the heart.

Jesus went further to reveal their hypocritical choice. The Pharisees would rather choose their own traditions over Scripture. They acknowledge the Scriptures only in passing; sometimes, they don’t even consider it. They rejected God’s laws, accepting tradition!

Mark 7:9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.

Wow! The irony is: these men are so deceived that they actually think they were protecting and establishing God’s commandment when in fact they were making it invalid. They moved from

— teaching the commandments of men (v. 7), to
— leaving the commandments of God (v. 8), to
— rejecting the commandments of God (v. 9), and finally to
— making void the Word of God (v.13).

Mark 7:10-13 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others. (NLT)

Again, Jesus exposed their hypocritical consecration. He quoted Moses, whom the Pharisees revere so much. He recalled the 5th commandment to expose them. It is one of the “Big Ten” (commandments), came with a promise of long life, and a punishment of death for flouting it. One would naturally expect these guys to obey this commandment, but they chose their traditions over the perfect Law of God. Sad! Withholding money from needy parents in order to “give it to God” is direct disobedience to God, dishonouring God’s Word, and substituting a man-made tradition for God’s Word.

C. Jesus concluded with a CLARIFICATION!
Mark 7:14-15 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.

Jesus turns his attention from the Pharisees to the people. He has just shown their true colours to the people. The next thing Jesus said was shocking to the people, who had been taught “external holiness” their whole lives. He told them that contamination is an internal problem, not an external problem as the Pharisees had taught them. Just as the heart is God’s ultimate focus in worship, the heart is also the chief source of defilement/impurity in God’s sight. Purity is not dependent on washing, touching, or eating.

Even the disciples of Jesus were shocked, and they requested Him to make it simpler for them. “Oga, come and explain this thing to us, biko…” Jesus was actually surprised that even His own disciples still didn’t get it yet. He told them: “Guys, defilement is not a matter of the stomach, it is a matter of the heart.” The focus is on the inside, not the outside. Food ends up in the stomach, but sin begins in the heart. Food is later excreted into the drain but sin remains in the heart, and then produces all manner of defilement and death. The heart of man’s problem is the problem of his heart. The root problem of all men’s sin is their wicked and depraved heart. In other words: “It is not WHAT WE DO but WHO WE ARE!” What a declaration of revolution!

“Clean hands” combined with a defiled heart will take people to hell. Man needs a “heart transplant” – which is exactly what happens to us in the New Covenant of grace.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Mark 7:25-26 Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia

Jesus moved on to the region of Tyre, where a woman came to Him. She was an “unclean woman” (Gentile) whose daughter had an unclean spirit. She looked helpless, exhausted from struggling with her demon-possessed girl. Her gender, ethnicity and origin are three reasons for the average Pharisee to avoid her. But here she is, throwing herself in worship at Jesus’ feet, begging for His mercy, and trusting Him to save her daughter. Jesus responded by telling her the priority of His gospel mission – to the Jews first!

Mark 7:27-29 Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children — my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.” “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

The Jews viewed the gentiles as “dogs” – she didn’t dispute that. And I love the posture of her heart. She called Him “Lord”. Wow! What a way to excite Jesus’ heart. She didn’t come to him on the basis of her “goodness”, but on the goodness of His heart. She trusted the excellency of His power. She was happy to take the crumbs, she knew it was more than enough to solve her problem. Jesus loved her response. It was a “good answer”. It was enough to attract divine intervention.

Jesus later met with another helpless man – deaf and dumb. People pleaded on his behalf that Jesus should heal him, and the Lord bettered the life of the helpless man. This mighty act of grace swept them off their feet!

Mark 7:37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

This is our testimony as believers.

He has done all things well!

Grace to you. Amen.

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