Saturday 06 February 2016

Bible Book:

“There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (v. 15)

Mark 7:14-23 Saturday 6 February 2016

Psalm: Psalm 31:9-24


Today's passage follows directly on from the controversy with the scribes andPharisees and shows Jesus seeking to explain just why heis challenging their teaching. He begins by addressing the crowdswho have gathered (verse 14) and explaining that it is not thethings which go into a person from outside which can defile, butrather the things that come out from inside.

But this is followed by a further discussion when Jesus hasentered a house with the disciples and they ask him to explainfurther the "parable" (v. 17). This is a pattern that has alreadyemerged in Mark's Gospel, where Jesus goes on to offer furtherteaching to the disciples about his message. Here Jesus enlarges onwhat he has already said to the crowd; that it is not what entersthe body from outside which defiles, since this all this flowsthrough the stomach into the sewer (verse 19). Rather it is thoseimpure emotions and intentions within (the heart) which give riseto evil actions (fornication, theft, murder, adultery etc) outsidewhich are the real source of impurity. "All these evils things comefrom within, and they defile a person,", says Jesus (v. 21).

"Thus he declared all foods clean" (v. 19)and the implications for this new teaching are going to be profoundboth for Jesus and his disciples, and for the early Christiancommunity which would meet in Jesus' name and whose worship andfellowship would centre on a shared meal together. For as we shalldiscover in the letters of Paul, the challenge of bringing togetherJewish and Gentile Christians (eg Galatians 3:27-29), and the issue as to how farJewish ritual purity laws still apply (eg 1Corinthians 8), are going to be major issues for the emergingChurch to address in subsequent generations.

To Ponder

  • To what extent do we really appreciate the significance of'eating together' in today's world?
  • Is it the case that all food is clean? Or shouldwe exerciseethical concern over what we eat? Why?
  • Jesus says that 'It is what comes out of a person thatdefiles'; is it really possible to separate what a person thinks(within) from how a person behaves (on the outside)?
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