Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Daily - 2/10/09

Mark 7:1-13

1 Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him,

2 they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.

3 (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders.

4 And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).)

5 So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders 3foot but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?"

6 He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;

7 In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.'

8 You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

9 He went on to say, "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!

10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.'

11 Yet you say, 'If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God),

12 you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.

13 You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things."
(Working heavily from Barclay today)

The scribes were a class of legal experts who took the moral laws of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and expanded and amplified them into literally thousands of rules and regulations governing most aspects of life. One set of regulations addressed the need for purification prior to eating.

Barclay describes the cleaning laws in detail. The hands first had to be completely clean (no dirt, sand, whatever). Special water was used from a special clean jar, used only for purification purposes. The hands were held with the fingers pointing up. Water had to roll down to the wrists, and a minimum amount was required. While hands were wet, each hand had to be cleaned with the fist of the other. Now the water was unclean, because it had been touched by unclean hands. So the hands then had to be held with fingers pointing downwards, and water had to be poured from the wrists and the water flowed down over the fingertips. Now the hands were clean, but they had to repeat between courses of the same meal.

Per the Scribes and Pharisees, this was religion. To break these rules was to sin against God. This is what Christ had to deal with. Christ's answer to this challenge is severe. As Christ says, they are hypocrites -- they nullify the word of God in favor of the tradition that they have handed on.

I can't leave this point without addressing the fact that many believe the Catholic Church is much like the Pharisees, putting laws of man above laws of God. Truthfully, at one point in time I felt that way. The problem wasn't with the Church, it was with me. I hadn't invested the time to understand what the Church truly taught vs. what I was perceiving and what others were whispering in my ear. The description of how that happened and how God revealed truth to me is for another time, and email doesn't do it justice.

I mention this because we all need to remember that we cannot put the cart before the horse. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we are to be ready to explain to anyone who asks the reason for the hope we have. We as individuals need to be able to clearly state our faith to anyone who asks. Beginning with … our children.