Year 2 Day 308
Read - Mark 7:14-15
Message - Alan Burke
Cleanliness is next to godliness, ever heard that? I have plenty of times, more often than not though it was when I was a wain and the dirt was being scrubbed from behind my ears. It is an idiom that strongly encourages and promotes neatness and personal hygiene. Well last week we heard how some of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law had taken issue with how the disciples were eating with hands that were unclean, for the Pharisees followed the traditions of the Elders, they had let go of the commands of God and were holding on to the traditions of men (v8), they saw what mattered as what was seen outwardly. Whereas here Jesus teachers what it is to be clean, it’s not about having dirty hands, or having the dirt scrubbed from behind your ears, it’s not about ceremonial washing, it’s all to do with our hearts. For it is the heart that matters above all else and Jesus is the only one that can make us clean.
Here Jesus continues to teach what that being clean means as he calls the crowd to him. Look at what he says there in v15 “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’” (V15 NIV). This simple and profound truth lets us see what really matters, for all those who heard this from Jesus, or rather those who surrounded him who understood this, it would have been profound. The reason why is this, that which was unclean whether it was a thing or a person, was excluded from the presence of God and the worship of Him. If a person was unclean then they were required to cleanse themselves in order to be able to come before God, into his presence, to worship him. The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had traditions that were to be observed, the problem was that almost anything at any time could make you unclean.
The laws of clean and unclean were intended to show the people that their lives were unclean, because it was almost impossible to get through a day without contracting some kind of uncleanness that would mean you would have to go through a ritual washing and purification. These laws were to show that our lives by our nature were unclean. Jesus here teaching this parable knocks the idea on the head that what comes from the outside makes us unclean. The pharisees had failed to understand that true holiness is not to do with the outward appearance but the heart, the internal. The source of defilement, what makes us unclean is our hearts.
None of us are clean, none of us deserve the grace of God, none of us can hope to come into his presence because of our uncleanness, our sin. But by the work of God the Father, though Jesus the Son, worked in us by the Spirit we are given a new heart, a new life. What we needed was the LORD God to do what he had promised long ago, in Ezekiel 36:26; “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”. This is the only way that we can come before a Holy God as sinners who are unclean.
Q66 What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’ s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment. (Deut. 5:16, Eph. 6:2–3)