Summary: Jesus is confronted by the religious elite that His disciples weren’t washing correctly. Jesus tells the Pharisical hypocrites they have more problems than that to worry about.
Pollution in the Soul
Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:1-23
Introduction – Not for a Million Dollars
An inner-city health clinic, sponsored partly by Church funds, was blessed with the volunteer services of a doctor and two nurses from their local church. These three dedicated Christians had decided to devote one full year of their lives to this mission. It was not only physical medicine they were giving to the people, it was an unusual caring quality they were offering. One night an old man was carried in on a stretcher. He was a skid-row type: alcoholic, dirty, smelly. It takes an experience like this to discover how badly a human being in this condition can smell. The man’s leg was a mass of infection. He had suffered an injury and allowed it to go unattended for days. When he was brought in, one of the volunteer nurses immediately knelt beside the stretcher and began to clean the wound and prepare it for the doctor who had been summoned. Next to her stood a newspaper reporter. He had been assigned to do a feature story on the health clinic. Feeling sick from the ugly sight and the unbearable stench, he turned away from the stretcher. With his back turned, he said to the nurse kneeling at the stretcher, "I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars." And the nurse replied quietly, "Neither would I."
Not for a million dollars, but because we have experienced the living Presence of God loving us; because we have this burning desire, through our servant ministry, we desire to share that Presence with the world!
Jesus entered into the world of humanity determined to pay the price of redemption for man’s infected and polluted nature. The stench is horrible! The situation was desperate! It is surprising that He was able to stomach the filth. But He did for you and me.
Notice how Jesus responded to the people.
The Pharisee’s and scribes made Shallow Accusations in verses 1-5.
The Pharisee’s and scribes could find no fault in Jesus so they went to Plan B where they could make accusations against His disciples. He would then lose honor in the eyes of the people. The word for unwashed here does not refer only to the outward cleansing of the hands. It reference the ritualistic washing dedicated, in their eyes, to God. In other words, their external washing was a common cleansing for normal hands which were not good enough for God. Their accusations were spurious!