08282021 – Mark 7.1-8, 14-15, 21-23

 

This is a “CONFLICT NARRATIVE.”

The people at the top are out of synch with the people at the bottom.

It’s an old – “us against them” story.

When you are talking Pharisees and Scribes, you are once more talking about “the elite of Jerusalem.”

Geographically, Jesus is in Gentile lands.  Thus, making them all unclean.

The Judean elite made up less than 5% of the total population.  These would include the filthy rich and the wealthy, the sellers of wares, the HIGH PRIEST, the Temple Priests, the Sanhedrin, or council of 70 Elders, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Scribes, and all those associated with the Royal Palace and the Royal Guards. These were the movers and shakers.

Note how they travel – even into UNCLEAN areas, just to check up, and to keep an eye on Jesus.

These were the people that lived in the major towns and cities.  These were the connected ones.  They had time.  They had money.  And they access to practically anything they wanted, unlike the general population.

So, there is a vast difference between them and the crowds that Jesus is talking to.  For them, everyone is “unclean” – with the exception of themselves, of course.

They approach Jesus.

Jesus responds to their question.

Jesus quotes the Prophet Isaiah as a part of his rebuttal.

And then, he turns away from them, and speaks directly to the crowds…  He disses them…probably giving them his back.

The crowds of “peasant Jews” would have been “cheering on, Jesus” during this entire confrontation.

Jesus condemns their worldview, their way of looking at things, their boldness, and the audacity of their question.

They do not attack Jesus directly, but rather HIS DISCIPLES, his FOLLOWERS, and the CROWDS, that he is addressing.

At issue, at stake here is “religious purity.”  The Scribes and the Pharisees see themselves as being “pure” and everyone else as being “impure.”

“The Tradition of the Elders” they refer to, did not drop down from heavens, fully formed, out of the skies.  These are the traditions of men, not the WILL of GOD.  The “tradition of the elders” isn’t even BIBLICAL.  It comes from the “distilled wisdom” through generations of trial and error.  It is instructive only! It is nothing HOLY.  It is WHAT THEY BELIEVED and practiced.  And it was not what was practiced by more than 95% of the people.  Us against them.  Us good.  Us holy.  Us righteous.  Us pure.  You scum.  You dirtbags.

They are simply being judgmental.  They are finding fault.  They are attempting to start a fight.  They are trying to dishonor Jesus publicly, as well as all of his disciples and all of his followers.  They are condemning.  They are complaining, criticizing, grumbling, objecting disapproving, and protesting.

It is so easy to go negative.

It is so easy to point fingers at others.

It is so easy condemn. It is so easy to be disgusted by “the actions of others.”

But OUR ACTIONS are always above reproach.

SO, JESUS CALLS THEM OUT!

Do you really want to play that game with me?  Do you really want to GO THERE?  Do you think you will WIN any honor for yourselves “with this crowd?”

They were talking about “oral laws.”  They were not talking about the TEN COMMANDMENTS.  They were not talking about the accepted 613 Jewish LAWS.

They were talking “oral traditions.” SO, Jesus called them out!

HYPOCRITES!  SHAME ON YOU!  How dare you judge others?  How dare you criticize, condemn, and point fingers…

WHAT ABOUT KEEPING THE TORAH?

The Laws of Moses…the WORD OF GOD…?

Sorry dudes, you are wrong.  The “oral traditions” of which you speak, were NOT given by God, NOR were they given by MOSES, NOR were they handed down at Mt. Sinai.

I think you made ALL THAT up!  It is HUMAN TRADITION!  Your tradition.  Not everyone’s tradition.

WHAT A PERFECT TIME – to remember the psalmist of old, who wrote the words, “Create IN ME, a clean heart O GOD, and renew a right spirit, within ME.”

Guess what boys, you are NOT as pure, and as HOLY and as RIGHTEOUS as you first thought you were…

You actually picked the wrong fight, on the wrong day, with the wrong people, in the wrong place, if you thought you were gonna walk away smiling…with heads held high…

Sorry, that ain’t happenin’!

But it is NOT just the Scribes and the Pharisees that have to STRUGGLE with this one, now, is it?  Something tells me we all probably have a little work to do.