Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

01/25/15 Sermon - Out of the Heart

“Out of the Heart”

Mark 7:1-23 & 2 Kings 18:1-4

 

We are returning back to the Book of Mark, where we left off before the Advent Season. I will start with a bit of a reminder of what has happened in the first 6 chapters of Mark. And if you have some extra time this afternoon, a free 15 to 20 minutes, why not sit down and read Mark 1-7 and remind yourself of what we have studied so far.

 

Jesus had been traveling around with his 12 disciples, healing people, and performing miracles and he had built up quite a following. His popularity had become tremendous. He did run in to some difficulty in his home town of Nazareth, and as a result sent out the 12 disciples, 2 by 2, on successful missions where they expanded Jesus’ ministry of preaching, exorcisms and healing. Jesus’ fame continued to spread and not only by the common folk, he also had important people like Herod Antipas speculating as to what kind of important figure Jesus could be. Speculation had him as the resurrected John the Baptist or Elijah? Or perhaps he was a prophet, like Moses?

 

Regardless of what people thought of Him, or whether they completely understood Him, Jesus miraculously multiplied bread for a hungry crowd and his reputation spread to even those across the sea and crowds continued to swarm around him, hoping to be healed.

 

In today’s Scripture we read that Jesus was also visited by the Pharisees, who have decided to come down from Jerusalem along with the scribes, and check Him out.

 

Let me try to put this into perspective. For the teacher’s in the room, or anyone with a job where your supervisor was from far away and would come to evaluate you, you can relate to how Jesus was being treated. The professor from your university or college comes down from their office to the classroom and looks at everything you are doing, in order to correct you. They are intentionally looking with a critical eye, looking to see if there are things you are doing incorrectly. The difference would be that hopefully your evaluating supervisor is doing their job in order to help you improve. For Jesus, the Pharisees were deliberately trying to find things that would make Jesus look bad, to discredit him.

 

It’s important that you understand exactly what a Pharisee is.

The Pharisees were a stately bunch. They were highly educated in the Torah, the Old Testament, but in order to try and sanctify the every-day world, they had established a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Torah and the Temple. They established their own laws, or another Torah, that consisted of the compilation of oral laws and traditions they believed God gave to Moses orally, which Moses had memorized and passed down orally to the Jewish leaders. As leaders, the Pharisees felt it was their duty to pass down this set of oral laws as well as the written ones. The Pharisees believed that the best way to determine if a person was pure, was to make sure they had followed the laws that God set up in the Torah and also followed the laws that had been set up by the Pharisees. The Pharisees judged everything by what they could see, by the outward appearances. Thus, the conversation they had with Jesus, concerning the washing of hands.

 

It is important to note, that when the Pharisees are talking about washing hands before one eats, they are not talking about a regard to hygiene and food safety.

 

They are focusing on the particular hand washing ritual that had been established to demonstrate you were Jewish. Similar to a particular hand shake particular groups or gangs do, to demonstrate they belong to a certain group.

 

The Pharisees question the behavior of Jesus’ disciples because as far as they could tell, the disciples were not performing the correct hand washing rituals, so they had either not been taught correctly or they were poor students. Either way, they certainly were not following God. Upon this accusation, it became fairly obvious that the Pharisees didn’t have a clue as to whom they were speaking.

First off, we know, Jesus was present when Moses received the laws and so Jesus knew which laws were from God and which laws were created by the Pharisees.

 

You see, Jesus’ response does not even address his disciples’ behavior. He goes directly to the hearts of the Pharisees. And he uses the Old Testament, the Torah, as his proof. The very book the Pharisees are supposed to know and live out. He quotes the book of Isaiah, and points out just how far the hearts of the Pharisees are away from God.

Jesus goes straight for the jugular and pretty much points out that if the Pharisees want to discuss purity, they had better begin looking inside their own hearts and their own lives first.

 

Basically, Jesus demonstrates that the Pharisees’ concerns with the ceremonial washing of hands, which is a law written by men, should not be as important as the laws written by God.

 

Jesus goes on to give another example of how the Pharisees put their laws written by men before God’s laws. He reminds them of their law of setting aside money for God, the Jewish word Korban, which keeps them from obeying God’s law for honoring their father and mother. The Pharisees had basically set up a system where they did not have to spend money on taking care of their parents, because they had put it away in a kind of “401K” for God. And since it was designated as “God” money it was not available to help out their parents.

 

Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say that what they eat is not what defiles them, but what they say and do is what shows whether they are defiled or not.

Had we been there when Jesus said this, I suspect we could have heard a pin drop. Even the twelve disciples become confused at this statement. Jesus has just put their traditions into a tail spin and turned everything upside down.

 

Why, wasn’t it God himself that had told the Jewish people what they could and couldn’t eat?

 

Pigs, being just one of the examples?

 

Confusion begins.

 

The Pharisees were probably thinking, “This guy is a nut. He doesn’t have a clue.”

 

And the disciples were not far behind with their inability to catch on. Because as soon as they are behind closed doors with Jesus, they ask him what he was talking about.

 

Jesus responded with exasperation.

Are the disciples dull?

Or as a teacher might respond Jesus asks, “Are you being willfully stupid?”

Jesus asks them to think about it. They have enough knowledge to know that food goes in and waste comes out. Simple.

 

Jesus is revealing that the concept of being “unclean”

comes from the state of one’s heart,

not the state of one’s diet.

 

The evil that humans do

comes from the heart,

and the list of “unclean” behaviors is interesting.

Evil thoughts

Sexual immorality

Theft

Murder

Adultery

Greed

Malice

Deceit

Lewdness

Envy

Slander

Arrogance

Folly,

Such things come from inside the heart and they were what made a human “unclean”.

Where have we read this list before?

Jesus was reminding them of the Big 10, that Moses did get from God and God asked him to write down.

 

Did you also notice, Jesus leaves the disciples with the human heart as “unclean”? 

 

Shouldn’t our first question be, “If that is true, what can I do?

 

If human’s hearts are irredeemably apart from God, we are in trouble. And if the laws and rituals that we have been performing since Moses, aren’t the way to make us clean, what is?

 

 

 

Jesus doesn’t go any further, at this time, to inform the disciples on what can cleanse their hearts. Next week,  we will find out how Jesus uses a particular person to show the disciples what it takes to clean their heart.

 

 

For now, let’s examine our own lives.

 

 

 

 

How many hidden rules do we have to determine

…..if someone is walking with God?

…..if someone is a Christian?

 

Do Christians have to act a certain way?

Dress a certain way?

Talk a certain way?

 

What about our traditions?

Are they pointing others to God or

pointing at those who don’t follow them correctly,

keeping them away from God?

 

The reality is, the hearts of humans are defiled, and out of them comes every imaginable evil, that not only defiles the body, but defiles our world.

 

How do we become clean?

 

King David wrote a Psalm, that reads…

 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

 

David wrote Psalm 51, after the prophet Nathan had come to him and helped him to see his sin with Bathsheba.

 

However, in Acts 13:22 it reads that David was man after God’s own heart.

 

Now wait a minute!

Didn’t David commit adultery and then commit murder to cover up his adultery?

How could he be a man after God’s own heart?

 

Redemption is the key.

If you read through Psalm 51, you will discover that David was redeemed.

Not because of what he did, but because he had a contrite heart and desired to serve God more than he desired anything else.

Did David do this all the time? No.

Did he make mistakes? Yes.

 

That is the point of today’s Scripture. We can be religious like the Pharisees, and make sure everyone dots their “I’s” and crosses their “t’s, just right to demonstrate they are Christians,

 

and ostracize people in the process.

 

Or we can be like Jesus, and manifest love for others,

take time to get to know the hearts of people, not just their actions.

Note, I said, take time.

We are so quick to judge.

We are so quick to do just about everything these days.

As we read through Mark, even though Jesus was on a mission, have you noticed that he stops, and takes time to encounter the people he meets. He listens, he responds, he asks questions. I think Jesus sets a great example of how to manifest love for others.

And then, what about the state of our hearts?

Yes, left on its own, there is evil.

And although the disciples didn’t get the answer to this dilemma until after the resurrection, today, we get it.

The very reason God sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross, was for the state of our hearts.

And just like David, it is faith, that sets us free.

Believing and receiving the free gift of eternal life, asking Jesus to reside in our hearts, is the answer. With the power that raised Jesus from the dead, we have power to overcome our evil hearts, and become “clean.”

 

Let’s pray.