World English Bible translation
7:14He called all the multitude to himself, and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand. 7:15 There is nothing from outside of the man, that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man. 7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!"
7:17When he had entered into the house from the multitude, his disciples asked him about the parable. 7:18 He said to them, "Are you so without understanding also? Don't you perceive that whatever goes into the man from outside can't defile him, 7:19 because it doesn't go into his heart, but into his belly, and into the latrine, thus making all foods clean?" 7:20 He said, "That which proceeds out of the man, that defiles the man. 7:21 For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins, murders, thefts, 7:22 covetings, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 7:23 All these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man."
In the last several lessons, Mark has been showing us a shift in the attitudes of people to Jesus Christ. In Lesson 32 we saw how the multitude gathered around Jesus everywhere He went. He was well known and would be recognized whenever He entered a town. The people would bring out everyone who was sick to be healed by Him. Mark contrasted this attitude of the people of Galilee with that of the scribes and the Pharisees that had come from Jerusalem. To those with religious power and authority Jesus represented a threat. He thought differently and taught differently. He did not have formal training as they had. Most of all, they did not like the popularity that He was gaining with the people.
In Today's Scripture Mark gives us another of the ways that the teaching of Jesus differed from that of the Pharisees and the scribes. Jesus taught that there was nothing that a man could take into himself that would defile Him before God. It was not what we eat or drink that is sinful. Rather, what God finds sinful is the things that people say and do. "From out of the hearts of men proceed evil thought…" etc.
This instruction ran counter to what others were teaching. The Pharisee believed in keeping the outward body pure by only eating certain things at certain times. Moreover, they had developed rituals around how one should prepare to eat. In the last lesson we saw that they were asking Jesus why He and His disciples did not ritually wash themselves before eating. What Jesus was trying to show everyone is that these rituals did nothing to keep oneself pure before God. It is the heart of man that needs to be cleansed, not His hands. It is the heart of man that is far from God, not his stomach.
This is not just a matter of semantics. It is a core difference in how Jesus thought and how religion had distorted the Word of God. The traditions and the practices that had built up around the Old Testament commandments had focused on maintaining purity. Jesus taught that without the direct action of God, men could never be pure. They needed to be purified from the inside out. This was only something that God could accomplish for them. No amount of ritual or tradition could accomplish it.
As long as people are fixated on what they must do to be holy they will miss the perspective that Jesus is trying to show the disciples. It is not what we do that makes us holy, it is what God has already done. It is not what we do that makes us acceptable in God's sight, it is what Jesus Christ did. Christ came to redeem the inward heart of man. He came to give us a new life that comes from the Spirit of God living in us.
Are you still trying to reach God by what you do? Are you willing to let God change the deepest part of your heart? Only then will you truly be clean. When God is inside you and sin is dead.
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