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Ritual is not Righteousness

Mark 7:1-4

We should applaud hygienic hands.

Letting Go of God's Word while Holding Religious Traditions

Mark 7:5-8

It is easy to make others look silly when they don't conform to an accepted social standard. But Jesus agreed with Isaiah's prophecy that hypocrisy was endemic (people might say they obeyed God, but really had no intention of doing so).

Traditions which defy God

Mark 7:9-13

Most cultures assume that their traditions are a normal way to behave and morally right.  They think that what was accepted as being right for their parents must be right for their children.  Of course, some of these traditions are right and are parables of righteousness; but others are wrong and wicked.  However, challenging a tradition is socially and politically risky, creating both heroes and martyrs, as history as well as the Bible demonstrate.  When Jesus challenged the tradition of Corban, He was reaching deep into the hearts of greedy, covetous, mean-minded, dishonourable religious

Unclean Inside

Mark 7:14-15

In 1791, John Wesley wrote: "Slovenliness is no part of religion.  Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness."  He meant that respect for God should result in personal disciplines - habits that honour the body and life that God had given.  But for the Jews around Jesus, ceremonial cleanliness was the way to get God to honour them (Matthew 15:9)  It was a sort of obsessional compulsive behaviour that marked their deranged thinking - the result of false teaching welcomed by 'Do It Yourself' spirituality.

The Enemy Within

Mark 7:17-23

Jesus rebuked them for being dull.  Dullness, here, is not an intellectual weakness: it is dullness-of-sight ...

Cross-cultural Mission

Mark 7:24-26

Jesus travelled from Galilee to the Mediterranean coastal port of Tyre in Phoenicia.  He came specially for this one notable encounter, before returning to His home region (Mark 7:31).  His close disciples went with Him to witness Christ's personal compassion for a female non-Jew in a pagan land.  Religious Jews would never have done that.  They were disgusted enough by Jesus talking to socially unclean people in their own country (Luke 15:2) or Samaritans (John 4:9).  But now He would have shocked the disciples by travelling to a foreign country to stimulate faith and bring healing - to a

The Gracious Logic of Faith

Mark 7:27-30

At first sight, Jesus did not appear sympathetic to the Syro-Phoenician woman.  She had come with an uncontrollable, demonised daughter, begging for her healing and for the unclean spirit to be exorcised (Mark 7:26).  Jesus has come all the way from Galilee to the Mediterranean coastal town of Tyre, especially for this encounter.  All the time His disciples were watching everything He said and did – Peter's eye witness account is recorded by Mark in this passage.  Every episode of ministry was a tutorial in how the apostles were to lead the church in the future.

God Moves

Mark 7:31-35

We should not ignore geography. Jesus kept moving, because He had business to do: announcing the kingdom of heaven, and training His disciples how to do the same.  After healing the child of the Gentile woman on the Mediterranean coast, He then travelled many miles to what is now Jordan and Syria, to heal a deaf-mute man.  But why did Jesus travel so far for two Gentile nobodies?  This was another important lesson for the trainee apostles.

He Does Everything Well

Mark 7:36-37

There are few really good news stories today.  But when they can be found, they are nectar to TV newscasters.  They are trailed at the beginning of the telecast, but viewers are kept in suspense until the item is run - at the very end.  It keeps people watching, because everybody is hungry for good news.  And that is exactly what the Gospel is: Good News.  Despite the way believers have suffered ridicule and opposition, many people are hungry for Jesus.  Some have run out of credible options, others are seeking the divine authenticity which Jesus brings (Matthew 11:4-6).

A Lesson Not Well Learned

Mark 8:1-5

These verses look like a re-run of the feeding of the 5,000.  But it is not, not really.  It is a separate episode (Mark 8:19-21), but so similar that the disciples should have been prepared and aware of the training the Lord Jesus was giving them.  Jesus even set them up with a question to demonstrate that they had understood the previous lesson - and they failed the test!