Sunday, March 01, 2015

What Defiles a Person?: SCS No. 39

Sunday, March 1, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 39
(This is a series of sermonettes on The Gospel According To Mark.  We will not be to the crucifixion and resurrection in the book of Mark by April 5, 2015 so we will not be doing the resurrection story when it is being celebrated this year.)
SCRIPTURE for Today:
Mark 7:1-15 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
   teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
What Defiles a Person
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

SERMON for Today:
Jewish tradition allowed that funds originally dedicated to the care of parents could be declared Corban (Hebrew/Aramaic for legally “dedicated to God”), meaning that the person would no longer be required to do anything for their father or mother. These funds could now be given to the temple, if so desired. Such human traditions thus allow room for the depravity of the human heart, directly opposing the Law of Moses which so often serves to protect the weak and helpless, in this case, parents in their feeble old age (making void the word of God). Jesus was telling his critics to stop being hypocrites.
The problem of the defiled human heart is much deeper than one might assume and significantly more serious than mere ceremonial impurity as the Pharisees were accusing the disciples of doing.   The core problem of defilement is what resides in the heart (things that come out), not things going into a person. Throughout Scripture, the heart refers to the center of one’s being, including the mind, emotions, and will.
Jesus is telling us to clean up our hearts so our actions will reflect the spirit of His love of us and the world.  It is a task for today and each day.  There is not a moment it just happens.  It is a work that goes on for a lifetime, but there has to be a starting point.  Have your started?

PRAYER for Today:
Father, May the Gospel story come alive in us so that we feel your Holy Spirit in the very pit of our inner beings. Help us to show Your love to the world through the lives we live.  For we know You sent Him for all peoples and He gave His all that all of us might have life forevermore if only we find Him, the one and only Way.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.
© Ed Cooper, March 1, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

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