Saturday 1 September 2012

Mark 7

The Gospel reading for Sunday depicts how we can become capable of ill treating worship. The religious leaders were more concerned over the way rituals were carried out and external observances. It was so in Jesus day and it still is in some places today. People are creatures of habit accustomed to doing things in the same way without giving any thought as to why they are doing so.

This gospel passage reveals what Jesus thought about man made observances. The Jewish leaders had the practice of teaching the Jewish law, which was accompanied by the ceremony of washing to display ceremonial cleanliness, which had to be performed in a strict order and if you did not follow that way you were deemed to be unclean. Jesus said, they were’’ laying aside the commands of God for the tradition of men’.

People can attend Church without the right intention and expect a certain routine and order when they get there, and woe betide any Minister who makes any alteration,. There is nothing amiss with order, but something can become so ingrained they take on greater significance than warranted; they become almost holy to people.

When I was ordained I was posted to a High Church and found that some members there were more concerned as to how the ceremonial procedure was performed than anything else. The sermon was viewed as a necessary extra. Such was the experience Jesus was having with the religious leaders.

We all have our own little preferences. As a little exercise, complete the following sentence, ‘it wouldn’t be church for me without….’

We have to contend for the whole faith and see beyond the visible. If we think of the two principal sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, for example. For most people, in the baptism service it is the physical acts of the priest and the sentimental display of the baby which commands the most attention, but baptism points to the reality of a commitment to Jesus Christ, a symbol of what God has done in the life of a believer. In the Communion service, we need to think of the love of God in sending Jesus to shed His blood on the Cross to redeem us rather than the way the physical actions are performed (See ‘we preach crucified’ earlier in the blog)

The Bible shows that Jesus had a liberty of spirit and did not stick to an established routine and He condemned practices which were man made and became more important than what was really meant to be. When we start introducing unnecessary practices into services we invariably introduce false doctrine. Scripture is rarely preached in some Churches, and sound doctrine is not given in many others as it contravenes the moral belief of many Ministers and members.

The focal point of one’s faith is the heart. We have to contend for the whole faith and not just pay lip service. The heart is what God is concerned about and what He notices. All the posturing and exaggerated motions and actions avail nothing; we take our hearts to Church as well as our bodies. So many people can talk the faith without ever practising it. Heart and lips must go together.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples did not observe the strict cleaning practice Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy. Correct words can produce wrong attitudes, to appear to be doing something, but have no attitude inwardly. Worship must be genuine, something you do which is deep and real, it must be given with heart and mind.

Jesus taught the divine origin of the Bible with its supreme authority above all practices, observances and institutions. This is why unity between the Churches can be difficult to achieve as some Churches are not prepared to put Scripture above practice and preference. We see today how religious leaders here are eager and wanting to override the Bible and endorse sexual practices to accommodate modern morality

This passage has an important message, that Jesus is the supreme interpreter of the Bible and we must never let human interpreters overrule Him Our salvation depends on our belief in Jesus Christ not by observing man made rules and practices. Never let us hear being said to us the words that Jesus used to the Pharisees, that we held on to the traditions of men rather than the commands of God. We must accept that nothing needs to be added or taken away from the words of Scripture.

No comments:

Post a Comment