August 30, 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 – Get your hands dirty. Westminster Santa Fe
Wash your hands before dinner! That’s all the Pharisees are saying right? They are just being like any good mother toward her child. Wash up. Do the dishes. Em, Em, Em (shaking head in disapproval) Look at those disciples of Jesus! They don’t even wash their hands before they eat dinner. Ehh. Gross
Now were the Pharisee’s simply about germ patrol? Would they have carried hand sanitizer with them everywhere if they lived today! (pull out some hand sanitizer and pass it around)
The Pharisees saw the eating practices of Jesus and his disciples and said, They’re defiled!
But, really they didn’t know that much about germs back then. Defile, not so much dirty, rather, not being holy and pure before God. Ritually, unclean because one had be exposed to food that had been used for idol worship. Or one had interaction with people who worshipped gods other than YhWh the God of Israel, so they were unclean. Contagious, their impurity can spread just like a virus. (which is why I didn’t come to church last week, I had a virus! But, I’m clean now…I hope)
This concern about being pure before God at all times isn’t all that bad. Shouldn’t we all strive to be pure before God. “Be holy as I am holy” says God. And these washing laws—washing hands, and pots and pans—are biblical. Derived from Leviticus, and then elaborated upon in the midrash, which are teachings and interpretations of the law as time and circumstances changed. Kind of like us interpreting the bible today.
Any mother should approve of the Pharisees. Wash your hands!
But Jesus says to them, oh Pharisees Pharisees Pharisees. Don’t you get it? There is nothing, nothing, outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart that evil intentions come.
It seems straight forward enough. Pharisees say wash your hands! Jesus says, no. Basically, these laws for which the Pharisees were the ENFORCERS, meant separation of people from one another. Those who were ritually unclean were excluded, not welcomed into the places of worship. But, as straightforward as Jesus teaching seems, I think we still make better Pharisees than we do followers of Jesus. We get what Jesus is talking about, but still say,
“Wash your hands!”
“Wash up, put on your Sunday best before you come to church.”
Come with a big smile and when someone asks you “how it’s going,” say, “Good and you?” “Everything is just fine!”
We’re good at washing our hands. What was it one of Billy Chrystal’s characters on Saturday night live always said: “It’s better to look good than to feel good.“
Today, it’s all about appearances? But what’s in our heart?