Summary: In Mark 7 Jesus is challenge the Jewish leaders and theology ...about their false theology and prejudice. He is poking the Jewish bear... It will cost Him His life.
In Jesus Holy Name September 2, 2018
Text Mark 7:24,34 Pentecost 15
“Watch Jesus Poke the Bear”
Last Sunday we did a little experiment with “hand washing”. I you missed last week the Gospel of Mark was telling us why Jesus was challenging the “traditions” of the Pharisees, and thus the Jewish religion. One of the major concerns of the Jewish religion was ritual cleanliness. Over the centuries the Jewish religion developed a number of rules designed to help people worship a holy God. These extra rules were meant to help people keep the Ten Commandments. (they were concerned about how to keep the Sabbath day holy.)
For example: When the Jerusalem temple was built, before the first stone was laid on the temple mount, great crowds gathered, on their hands and knees to pick up any tiny piece of litter, rock, anything that would make the site unholy for God’s new temple. Then when the temple was built most every entrance had a small pool of water running so that you would not enter the temple with defiled shoes or dirty feet.
Today some people will take their shoes off went entering a house as a sign of respect for the owner. Some service companies will require their employee when entering a house to put on some kind of covering over the shoe so as not to carry dirt from the out side into the customers home. So maybe the practice of what the Jews were trying to accomplish when approaching God’s temple is not so unfamiliar.
Their rules eventually lead them to make lists of people with whom you could and could not associate. Jesus challenged their extra rules and traditions because they were 1) replacing God’s commandments with manmade rules 2) Eventually they believed that keeping the rules earned them a blessing from God, even heaven. 3) The Jews were trying to pigeonhole Jesus into their box of rules, & traditions. They were amazed at His miracles but wanted Him to be a geographical King of Israel and kick out the Romans.
When the smart, Jewish educated lawyer, an expert in the Old Testament laws came to Jesus he asked: “What must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus asked him… “How then do you read the bible?” He answered: “To love the lord our God with all our heart soul and mind, and love your neighbor as your self.” Jesus you have answered correctly. “Do this and you will live.” In other words, your life will find spiritual peace. You will find fulfillment as you love God and your neighbor. But that did not answer his question about eternal life.
The problem for the Jewish lawyer was “who is my neighbor?” The Jewish religion of the 1st century not only had rules about ritual purity, it was also a very racially segregated theology and society. Let’s be honest. 1st century Judaism was racially prejudice. That’s why Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan who showed mercy.
You and I know that eternal life is a gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. You and know why Jesus’ was born in Bethlehem. You and I know that it was God’s plan to come to His created earth and restore the lost friendship and love He had with human beings before Adam and Eve got suckered into believing the words of a fake god. The Apostle Paul wrote: “We have peace with God by faith in Jesus Christ.”
In the 1st century both the Pharisees and the crowds tried to pigeonhole Jesus. Sociologist and marketers have pigeonholed you. Depending on your birth year you have been pigeonholed as being part of a “generation.” For example, those born from 1901 to 1924 are part of the GI Generation. After that there is the Silent Generation, The Baby Boomers (that’s me); The Generation Xers; the Millennials and the Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration.
Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, has also been pigeonholed. Already in His lifetime, He was being pigeonholed. If you need some examples, all you need to do is turn in your Bible to watch the Pharisees and crowds who knew Jesus healed thousands of people. He fed thousands with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. The crowd was elated. (the pigeonhole theme is from Rev. Ken Klaas)
Before this, they had already heard Him speak as no man had ever spoken. They watched Him heal the sick and deliver those who were possessed. They had waited to see what He would do next. They pigeonholed Him as the Prophet Moses had promised would come. In Deuteronomy 18 Moses had said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers it is to him you shall listen.”