Songs of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Peace be with you!
There are days when I just go through the motions. I bow my head before meals and say, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.” I go to church to sing hymns, to pray, to take communion, and to be blessed—but I do this without truly hearing God’s Word. I drop a few coins in the bucket without seeing the person needing help. The world rushes us through our days to meet deadlines, to climb the corporate ladder, and to be “successful” in the world. The busier I get, the farther away I seem to get from God the Father. I have deadlines to meet, volunteering to do, friends to keep in touch with, family gatherings to attend, house work to keep up with, four pups to attend to, the endless job of networking to engage in, finances to keep in order, and more. Some days the to-do list seems endless.
In the gospel reading, the Pharisees and the scribes challenge Jesus as to why he and his disciples do not wash their hands according to the tradition of the day. The Jews would wash their hands before every meal as a way to cleanse themselves of their sins. I imagine Jesus giggling to himself as he prepares to deliver some harsh news: washing your hands does not wash away your sins. The Israelites had a custom to wash their hands before meals as a way to set them apart as God’s chosen people. Yet the Pharisees and the scribes have made the washing of hands a cleansing rite.
So Jesus is challenging the traditions of the day as he tries to bring the true significance of what God wants. Jesus says, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandments of God and hold to human traditions” (Mark 7:6b-8, NRSV). Jesus does not want us to just go through the motions but to invite the Triune God into our lives and to open our hearts to him. Jesus is scolding the Pharisees and the scribes for interrupting the laws in a way to fit their needs, such as requiring Israelites to wash their hands before meal to be cleansed of sin. The laws are meant to bring us closer to the Triune God.
Jesus reminds us that going through the motions does not make us worthy to enter heaven. We cannot just wash our hands and be clean of our sins. Evil tempts us to go against our neighbors, because Satan lives with us in this world. However, we become doers of the Word by living according to the will of God. By being doers of God’s Word, we resist Satan and spread the good news. Thus, Jesus offers us forgiveness making us new creations in Christ, His faithful followers. Paul writes in Second Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (NRSV). Each day we accept Christ into our lives we let our old sinful selves die and rise up anew with the Triune God who offers us forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Even on days when I feel far away from God the Father, God knows my hearts. His grace grants me forgiveness to carry me through my darkest days. Jesus carries me through and grants me grace to fight against Satan, the world, and my own sinful nature and to be in a relationship with God the Father. Daily, through the Holy Spirit, I am able to drown my sinful nature and rise anew in Christ Jesus.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for granting us the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Help us to be the doers of the Word of God. Remind us that Jesus grants us your grace and love, even when we struggle with Satan. Thank you for your forgiveness. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What is one time you have found yourself going through the motions in your faith life?
2. What does it mean to you to be a “new creation in Christ Jesus”?
3. How do you seek to strengthen your relationship with the Triune God?