Time to Scrub the Cup
Background Story: The religious leaders were always trying to trap Jesus or find fault in Him. They saw Jesus’ disciples not following their religious customs of the day and brought it up to Jesus. God had given Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus but the Jewish people took those ten laws and turned them into thousands of mini laws which made following God pretty exhausting.
Read: Mark 7:1-15
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
Big Idea: God has never been interested in a show
We live in a world of show. A person takes 30 pictures just to post that perfect selfie. Back in Jesus’ time, it was no different. The Pharisees loved to put on a show for others to see. By acting religious and following their list of rules, they had tricked their minds to believe they were pleasing God. It’s always been easier to try to fix the outside. But is this what God created us for…to be rule followers?
It says in Psalms 51:7, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Jesus is not after an outside show but a surrendered heart. The Christian walk is simply a daily surrender of our hearts to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We say each day…today I follow You and choose YOU above all else.
The problem with focusing our Christian life on rule following is it’s so easy to replace a surrendered heart with a checklist of do’s and don’ts. We feel proud of ourselves because we checked boxes with the appearance of holiness but can be just like the Pharisees, “setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions.” Instead of box checking, if we focus our lives on daily surrender to Him, an amazing thing happens. The actions of our lives naturally follow our changing heart. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
So quit the show and stop striving to be the “perfect Christian.” Instead present yourself each day to Him, “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). The actions of your life will naturally follow a changed and surrendered heart.