Nullification Ė Mark 7:1-23

This morning, Iíd like to invite you to look into chapter seven of Markís gospel with me, and to consider what God may want to say to you from this portion of his word. But before I begin, Iíd like to explain something. You may have noticed that Iím wearing jeans this morning. L.L. Bean relaxed fit denim, to be precise. Yes, relaxed fit. And thatís appropriate. Because I have a relaxed body. It seems to be getting more relaxed all the time. Now, the last time I spoke from this pulpit, I wore a suit and tie. Jim usually wears slacks or maybe chinos. And so, as I was walking up here, you may have wondered, why jeans? Well, let me tell you. Itís because Iím just an open, friendly, informal guy. Iím relaxed and easygoing and approachable, and what Iím wearing reflects that about me. [pause] No, thatís not really the reason. Confidentially, Iím wearing jeans because I donít respect the house of God, and in fact, I donít really respect God, period. I donít dress up for church because Iím not willing to give him my best. [pause] No, thatís not true either. OK, the real reason Iím wearing jeans is because Iím a rebel. I live by my own rules. I defy convention. I donít have to follow any stinkiní dress code, and Iím going to wear what I please. I could care less what you or anybody else thinks. [pause]

Now, in fact, none of those is the real reason I wore jeans this morning. But if any of those thoughts ran through your mind as you saw me walk onto the pulpit this morning, then congratulationsóyouíre a Pharisee. Or at least youíre thinking like a Pharisee. Because one of the characteristics of a Pharisee is making judgments about someoneís character or spiritual condition based on appearances. Specifically, based on whether they comply with religious norms of behavior. Like wearing a certain type of costume when participating in a worship service. The Pharisees, of course, went further. They not only judged others based on outward appearances, but they manipulated their own appearance and behavior, in order to influence the judgment of others about themselves. In order to project an image of piety and holiness, an image that in many cases was false. And what I would like to suggest to you this morning is that we all have these tendencies. We all have a bit of Pharisee in us. We all tend to make judgments about whatís inside based on what we see on the outside. And we all try to look better than we really are. Itís human nature. But knowing that about ourselves, itís also something that we can resist and work against as we seek after true holiness and true spiritual maturity, the kind that isnít based on mere outward appearance.

So in todayís text, we find Jesus being confronted by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, the religious establishment of his day, over a point of religious practice. ďWhy donít your followers wash their hands before they eat?Ē Now, was that their real concern? If Peter had responded, ďoops,