Summary: Jesus tongue is a sword. His words are God’s words and they have power to heal or destroy. How do we handle hearing harsh words from heaven’s holy herald?
Read or quote Mark 7.
Does God’s word ever say something that bothers you? I dare say, if you have never had that experience, you must not be reading your Bible much! The word of God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, does it not? God told Jeremiah, (23:29) "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?
Jesus, the living Word of God made flesh, speaks with all the authority and power of heaven. Some of his words are gentle and comforting, but some of them are hard and full of rebuke. Some of them sting with a kind of cutting that only the sword of the Spirit can carry out.
So far in Mark’s gospel, we have already heard Jesus speak some tough words from time to time. Today is one of those. I have read the thoughts of several commentators on Jesus’ words. Some people have a hard time with some of the things Jesus said and they like to try to soften them with explanations.
For example, speaking to the Syrophoenician woman who was begging him to cast out a demon from her daughter, Jesus said, “Let the children first be satisfied. It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Now, whatever else you think about this, you have to admit that this seems a harsh thing to say to a mother who desparately wants help for her little daughter. In an attempt to soften the blow here, one commentator suggested that the word for dog here means pet. First, that is not true, and second, if you think about it, that does little to make Jesus words more polite.
We are probably much more comfortable with Jesus words to the Pharisees. He calls them hypocrites and even seems to use a bit of sarcasm in verse 9: “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!”
What are we to make of such statements spoken by Jesus? Is he getting tired? Should we understand these statements differently so that they carry less sting?
For our lesson today let’s examine this and draw some applications for ourselves as a conclusion. We can learn some important things about Jesus by these harsh words. We can also learn some important things about ourselves.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t ask people to do things. He does ask questions, but they are clearly teaching tools. Jesus, the master teacher is first of all the Master. He is Lord of all and he speaks with an authority that often surprises those who hear him. His words of rebuke are never apologized for. It is much more than confidence that he exudes, it is real authority, divine authority, powerful and supreme authority. Jesus speaks to us.
The Hebrew writer said: Heb 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Jesus words are more than instructions, they are the standard by which we will all be judged. John records Jesus saying: 12: 47 "And if anyone hears My words, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
49 "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and how to say it.
50 "And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."
Did you get that? Jesus’ words are God’s words.
When Jesus speaks words that are harsh, God is speaking those harsh words. But there is a desired effect. Harsh words can humble us or harden us, it depends on our hearts.
Jesus spoke the truth, and I am completely convinced that he did it in love. Speaking the truth in love, does not mean watering the truth down with warm words. I must admit a weakness here. I tend to want to warm up a cold truth and serve it with seasoning to make it a palatable platitude instead of a probing prophetic proclamation. I would ask you to all pray for me about this weakness that God help me never to sweet talk where God would have me slash with the sword of truth. I don’t want to mistake compromise for love. Jesus didn’t. He’s my model.