Red Letters

Mark 7:5-13

John 3:16

The Pharisees and scribes followed Jesus and his disciples. Watching every action—listening to every word—they wanted to find a way to discredit him before his followers. Because they had replaced God’s truth with a belief system of manufactured traditions, they felt justified, even compelled, to find a flaw in Jesus’ teachings. They gleefully ridiculed him when they saw some disciples eating with unwashed hands.

Living in the shadow of masking, distancing, and the ever-present bottle of hand sanitizer, we may be able to relate to some of their concerns. God had made laws about cleanliness and washing. But the Pharisees were not interested in public health. They had ulterior motives. This upstart teacher from Galilee, of all places, had gained a following. His teachings were too powerful, and to their minds his miracles were annoying rather than astonishing. Jealousy drove them to pounce when they saw that some of his disciples had not followed proper hand-washing traditions before they ate.

Jesus did not hesitate to respond with words of wisdom. It would be well for us to receive his message as well. We may not realize how close we are to making the same mistakes the Pharisees did. Do we:

-profess God’s will with distant hearts?

-pass off human ideas as teaching from God?

-reject God’s truth to follow worldly ways?

Would we be chagrined if Jesus looked at us and said, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:9 ESV)?

Distortion of meaningful, powerful words and teachings is one sure sign of Satan’s influence. How easy it can be to twist Godly living into something more comfortable and self-serving. “Love” no longer means self-sacrifice. Words like “justice” and “peace” shroud violent acts and attitudes. Lip-service substitutes for positive actions. “Clean hands” cover up corrupted hearts.

“But my people did not listen to MY voice.
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in MY ways!
(Psalm 81:7-9)

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