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Mark 7:1-13

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+ In Nomine Jesu +
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
After a three week excursion in John’s Gospel, we find our way back this morning to the Gospel of Mark. The context is all the same. Central to both and & 7, is the Bread of Life imagery that Jesus puts forth. In this morning’s reading, Jesus encounters a group of Pharisees and Scribes who are indignant with Jesus because His disciples do not follow the tradition of the elders, namely washing their hands before they eat. Jesus chastens the Pharisees and the Scribes because they “(rejected) the commandment of God in order to establish (their) tradition!”
“You have a fine way of arejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Have you ever lost your way before? Not in a spiritual sense, but in a physical sense. Have you ever been lost? Several years ago my brother and his wife bought a retirement home in the Carolina mountains.
I think we’ll make our way to the Pharisees and Scribes this morning by way of the Carolina mountains. Have you ever lost your way before? I don’t mean in a spiritual sense, but in a physical sense. Have you ever been lost? Several years ago, my brother and his wife bought a retirement home in the North Carolina mountains. One spring they invited Dawn and I to go up and stay for a few days. It would be just us, since they were going to be at their other home in Florida.
I used the GPS on my phone to try and locate the house. We followed it dutifully, winding our way up a mountain. At one point it became evident that we weren’t in the right place at all. In fact, there weren’t even any houses where we were. I pulled over on the side of the narrow little road and typed in the address of my brother’s house once again. I figured we could just start over from where we were that point. I put in the address and a voice from my IPhone said “not possible.” At that point, we were truly lost. In fact, we weren’t even on the right mountain at all. Not to worry though, a quick phone call to my brother got us to our intended destination.
As easy as it is to lose our way in such situations, it’s every bit as easy to lose our way in terms of how we relate to God. The Pharisees and Scribes, in fact, had done just, they had lost their way to God. In this morning’s Gospel reading there is a clear distinction between the commandments of God and the traditions of men. The commandments of God were written down, not only in the ten commandments, but in the law portions of the rest of Scripture. These were commandments, the code, is you will, that God held His people to. They could be summarized in the command to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.
The Pharisees and Scribes though had another code, their tradition, that was handed down orally from generation to generation. This code stated certain actions, or traditions that had to be followed for a person to be considered clean, or, holy. One of those traditions was the washing of one’s hands after returning from the market and before eating a meal. Mind you, this tradition wasn’t about cleanliness in a practical sense. It was about a man, or, woman being defiled, or, undefiled, as it were, before God. Actually, the word that our translations render as “defiled” has it’s root in the same word that is translated as fellowship. The implication being, if a person did not wash their hands before a meal they could not be in fellowship with God!
In holding to such traditions, the Pharisees and Scribes had lost their way to God. In fact, they weren’t even on the right mountain. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, called them hypocrites, saying, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Well did Isaiah prophesy of you xhypocrites, as it is written,
y“ ‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
As a church body that is high on tradition, we would do well to examine ourselves to see if we too may have lost our way by following certain traditions, or, customs. First, we should note and acknowledge that, tradition, in and of itself, is not sinful. In fact, tradition can be quite holy, namely when it points us to Christ and to His role in accomplishing our salvation. On the other hand, it can sinful, when the practice, or, custom is considered to be necessary for one’s salvation. Our Lutheran confessions make this very point. “We on our part (says the Augsburg Confession) also retain many ceremonies and traditions (such as the liturgy of the Mass and various canticles, festivals, and the like) which serve to preserve order in the church. At the same time, however, the people are instructed that such outward forms of service do not make us righteous before God and that they are to be observed without burdening consciences, which is to say that it is not a sin to omit them if this is done without causing scandal.”
We on our part also retain many ceremonies and traditions (such as the liturgy of the Mass and various canticles, festivals, and the like) which serve to preserve order in the church.
41 At the same time, however, the people are instructed that such outward forms of service do not make us righteous before God and that they are to be observed without burdening consciences, which is to say that it is not a sin to omit them if this is done without causing scandal.
teaching as zdoctrines the commandments of men.’
y Cited from ; []
Where the Pharisees and Scribes had lost their way, was not in following tradition, rather it is was in associating righteousness, holiness, in the practice of those traditions. They knew, you see, as the Scriptures say, that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” They knew too that there were “none righteous, not even one.” At the same time, they knew that God commanded holiness and righteousness, and that, as Malachi had written, “God’s eyes couldn’t even look on evil.”
z ;
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
And so, they developed an oral tradition, a code, if you will, that would, at least in their minds, assure their righteousness before God. The code included the washing of one’s hands before a meal. And, lo and behold, along came Jesus with His disciples, and they failed to do the very thing their tradition commanded!
Again, I’d remind you that and & 7 have at their center Jesus as the Bread of Life. In fact, though the translation we have before us this morning doesn’t include it, verse 2 actually identifies what it was that the disciples were eating with defiled hands. They were eating “bread.” “(The Pharisees and Scribes) saw that some of (Jesus’) disciples ate (BREAD) with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.”
they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were rdefiled, that is, unwashed.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Well, even in having lost their way, the Pharisees and Scribes knew that it was necessary to be pure, to be undefiled, to stand before God. Unfortunately, they hoped to find that purity in themselves and in what they did and didn’t do in life, or, as it were, in devotion to God. When, in fact, purity would come to them only in the bread that was given for the life of the world, the very bread that they scorned and destained and ultimately crucified!
Last week, in preaching on , made the point that where Jesus is, there is the Kingdom of God. This morning, a similar point could me be made regarding purity and holiness. Where Jesus is, there is purity! There is holiness! “He is the image of the invisible God.” All that is believed of and said of God, is believed of and said of Jesus. Perhaps Isaiah said it best when he stood before the angelic choir the day that God called him to be prophet. The angels sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And (Isaiah) said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he btouched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
b ;
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
vthe whole earth is full of his glory!”2
vthe whole earth is full of his glory!”2
And wthe foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and xthe house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! yFor I am lost; zfor I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the aKing, the Lord of hosts!”
v
If you are looking for salvation anywhere but in Christ, you have lost your way. On that path, it is “not possible” to arrive at your destination. God demands absolute purity of us, of you. Jesus, the Bread of Life, has come into the world and where He is, there is purity, there is holiness.
And wthe foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and xthe house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! yFor I am lost; zfor I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the aKing, the Lord of hosts!”
2 Or may his glory fill the whole earth
w

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

vthe whole earth is full of his glory!”2

4 And wthe foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and xthe house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! yFor I am lost; zfor I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the aKing, the LORD of hosts!”

2 Or may his glory fill the whole earth
y []
w
z []
a ch. 33:17; ; []
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wh
y []
z []
a ch. 33:17; ; []
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men
Ignoring the commandments of God
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
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