Summary: Theme: Righteousness and Rituals This sermon deals with what really matters - how do we deal with all the rules, rituals and traditions we find in our churches? What really matters?

Scripture: Mark 7:1-23

Title: Should You Wash Your Hands or Your Heart?

Theme: Righteousness and Rituals

This sermon deals with what really matters - how do we deal with all the rules, rituals and traditions we find in our churches? What really matters?


Grace and peace this morning from God our Father and from Jesus Christ, our Savior and LORD who came to take away the sin(s) of the world!

Good morning!

This has probably happened to you at some time or the other. You are having a conversation with someone and in the middle of the conversation you start getting a rather strange look from either the person you are talking to or the people that have joined in the conversation. You may have been discussing some event or some individuals that you had just met or had some dealings with and suddenly the air is thick with anxiety, confusion and at times even anger. Suddenly, the person or persons you are talking to want to quickly change the subject. They don't want to continue this part of the conversation. They want to talk about something/someone else.

What usually has happened is that you've accidently hit on a spot that has some powerful prior history. There is some past event that has clouded this person's or that person's view of someone or some event that you just mentioned.

At times that person may even share with you what happened. The story of why that name, or that place or that event caused them to suddenly get reflective and quiet, or scornful, sad or even angry. Perhaps the person you just mentioned has hurt them or one of their family members or friends and they don't want anything to do with that person again. Perhaps the event you mentioned is one that brings back unpleasant memories that they don't want to relive. Such times can be quite uncomfortable.

Of course, thankfully, the opposite happens as well. When that happens it is always pleasant. You mention a person's name and suddenly everyone begins to smile and their face begin to beam. You mention an event and people start sharing their own wonderful stories about that event. They start sharing the positive impact it had on their lives.

History is important. Story is important. What has happened in the past can change the narrative of the present very quickly. Sometimes we don't always understand people's reactions to things, places and people because we do not know the full story. And when we do get the full story we are able to better understand why a certain person or group of people reacted the way that they did.

In our passage this morning, the back story is at least 600 years old. 600 years before this passage the Jewish people worshipped in another Temple - the one built by the great King Solomon. It had been the Jews place for worshipping the Good God of Creation - Yahweh for over 400 years.

However, in 587 B.C. all of that came to an abrupt end. In 587 B.C. the army of King Nebuchadnezzar invaded the nation of Judah for the third time. Twice before the Babylonians had invaded attempting to get the Jewish nation to realize that now they were under the rule and protection of the Babylonian Empire. Each time the nation of Judah had absorb the blow, recoiled, rearmed and attempted to make new alliances with other nations to keep the Babylonians out.

Finally, King Nebuchadnezzar got fed up with the whole situation. This time he sent an overwhelming force that destroyed the walls protecting the capital city of Jerusalem, torn down the Temple along with many houses and businesses. If the people of Judah were not going to obey then he (King Nebuchadnezzar) would tear the nation apart brick by brick.

The Babylonians captured King Zedekiah and his sons. As punishment for his betrayal, Zedekiah's sons were executed right in front of him. As soon as the last son was executed, Zedekiah himself was blinded and taken in chains to Babylon. Along with him went many other leading citizens (Jer 52:10–11). The land of Judah became a Babylonian province, called YEHUD.

God's people were devastated. They had suffered defeat before but never had their city nor their temple been reduced to rubble. The Bible tells us that for seventy long years they suffered under the hands of Babylonians. Many of them like Daniel and his friends were taken back to Babylon to serve the Babylonian Empire in a number of capacities.

In 539 B.C. the Babylonian Empire finally came to an end. When the Persian Empire came to power they began to allow some of the Jews to return home. And so men like Nehemiah and Ezra were able to lead hundreds of Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, the city walls, the Temple and Jewish life.

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