Scripture: Mark 7:1-23
Key verses: (1-8) Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Reflection: As we read scripture, we listen for God’s word for the original hearers. In the gospel of Mark, I imagine they are hearing some suggestion about access and the ability to sit at the table. This is not a scripture about dirty hands, but about access to the table. The hearers were challenged to consider who gets to receive the benefits of society. Jesus will not allow the Pharisees to continue to create divisions, reminding them to stand on the commands of God. The commands of God give life. The religious leaders are not offering space for abundant life for all people.
As we read the scripture, we also listen for God’s word for us today. Are there traditions, routines or systems that limit access to food or space at the table? The simple truth is that Jesus and the gospel has always insisted that the way we live our lives demonstrates the quality of our faith. Every day of our lives. Authentic faith has always been about God’s grace changing our heart and mind so much that it changes the way we live.
Prayer: God, we pray for unity in the body of Christ. Continue to build humility in each and every one of us with a total reliance on you and not our own understanding. In the name of your son Jesus we pray. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].