Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
   ( Week of September 1st )

Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus,they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.-.
For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,do not eat without carefully washing their hands,keeping the tradition of the elders.
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.-.
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
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; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He summoned the crowd again and said to them,“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;but the things that come out from within are what defile. “From within people, from their hearts,come evil thoughts, unchastity,theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.” Sermon: This is a wonderful section of the Gospel in which Jesus sets the record straight within the world of mankind. It is astonishing to see the myriad of traditions men and women have come up with through out the ages. It is also astonishing that they continue
today in the spirit of the Pharisees as they did in Mark's Gospel

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their well intentioned but
"God-less" acts of man almost 2,000 years ago. What are these "God-less" acts?
Acts that are veiled as God's tradition but are traditions that have been solely created or added by men and have the ability to lead people into acts of false faith and confusion.
An example of these God-less acts are those traditions spoken of by the Pharisees in the reading this week. In fact,
these traditions are so faithless that the Pharisees are deceived
into attempting to "correct" the Lord Jesus who is the One who
gave them the Law through Moses in the first place.

The Pharisees in this weeks reading are examples of men today who
claim perfection, purity, and faith but have twisted God's
commandments into mindless, faithless, traditions. Wash your hands! Why do you wash your hands? Well, you wash your hands to cleanse them of germs from the dirt that is on them. We wash our hands as a sign of hygiene and of a sign of cleanliness. Some may say that these Pharisees were not out of line... The Pharisees were dedicated to keeping the Law in order to please God. That didn't seem to work because the Son of God and Creator of All had to come down here to offer Himself as the only worthy blood sacrifice because of the utter failure of keeping the Law. The Commandment to cleanse hands was given in Exodus 30:18-21 and 40:31. This command was given to priests and priests only. This commandment was not given as an instruction for anyone else to follow. The Pharisees (and legalist religionists that have always existed in this world) take Scripture and twist it into something they feel is truth and the "proper" way to live a spiritual life. The cleansing of hands was the command given by God FOR PRIESTS. And with good reason, how can one approach the altar of our Lord with dirty hands? Allow me to point out that this was "Old Testament", this was before Jesus the Son of God, who came to
liberate those who will faith"eth" in Him. So why did the Pharisees
try to correct the Lord Jesus because the disciples failed to wash
their hands?

It is because of thinking like this... The Pharisees over time would interpret Scripture and form "better" commandments...they created "Traditions of the Elders" which were in reality, improvements on God's commandments. They felt that hand washing needed to become ritualistic hand washing and EVERYONE must do it. There we are...a new and improved commandment! We will wash our way into God's Good Grace! So, here are the Pharisees, who are wiser than God and "improve" on God's obvious shortcomings and chastize this "Good and Wise Teacher" called Jesus, for not teaching his disciples about proper ritualistic handwashing. These poor souls! How blind can men be to stand before our Lord and say such a thing! Would this situation repeat again if the opportunity arises in the future and we find ourselves in the Lords presence? Surely we would have many arrayed in purple and gold showing us the proper way to approach our Lord! Or would they even know that they are standing before the Lord? Would we know? Who are examples of the Pharisees in today's world? Well, they are
still the Pharisees that still exist in title and they are the
larger group of people who are Hypocrites. These hypocrites
externally advertise themselves as followers of the Law and/or
followers of Jesus Christ but who are just one thing...hypocrites. Just like these Pharisees that Jesus speaks to using the verses from Isaiah.."HYPOCRITES!"...they have forgotten God, are blind to the fact that the Lord is standing in front of them, and instead follow their own traditions with unwavering stubborness. The hypocrites no longer know where the line is between God's traditions and man's traditions.
Traditions of men are often elevated above God's commandments.

Do you know what traditions exist in your church and why they are observed?
It is essential to differentiate between man's traditions and God's traditions! Know what you do and why you do it! Know what the Scriptures really say and what it means! Allow me to give you a kernal of Truth. If washing your hands, obeying the Ten Commandments (the best you can every day),
believing that you were really REALLY helpful today, believing
that you are nice enough to be considered for heaven, performing
all of the Good Works you can,(the list of "goodness" goes on)
are paths to Salvation, then why did the Son of God have to come
down here to offer Himself as a worthy blood covering for the sin
of mankind? The legalists take away from the truth about the persecution, suffering, and bodily death our Lord had to endure in order to
become the perfect sacrafice for the our sake.
Legalists would rather pick and choose the Old Testament Jewish traditions THEY feel are important... and for what? Their Church memberships? Money? Ignorance? Foolishness? Is that what causes the twisted interpretations of Scripture and formation of the traditions man in the spirit of the Pharisees? Foolishness? After all of the miracles Our Lord did in front of these Pharisees... none of that mattered because His disciples didn't wash their hands? The Lords teachings to the Pharisees didn't raise alarm as to who was really standing before them? Why is it that none of these "Pharisees" washed Our Lords hands after performing any one of the numerous miracles He did RIGHT BEFORE THEIR EYES? Lord knows if I had the opportunity I would rush on my knees to wash His hands and feet and then I would seriously contemplate dumping the water right on the Pharisees!
I would feel compelled to soil their clothes just like their minds and their acts acts are dirty in God's eyes...
and so are theirs! Break out of any legalist bondage and hear the Good News of the Gospels brought to you by the One and Only Lord Jesus! The Law may serve as moral guidelines for some, but in absolutely no way are you capable of pleasing God by obeying the Law! Some traditions are based on Scripture and add a dimension of antiquity to church services but they will not and do not make you righteous in the eyes of God and again will never allow you to obtain Salvation. Should obtaining salvation and eternal life be less important than what "feelings" you have about a church service?
What is in your heart? What are your acts? How do you act in faith? Who is and what does Jesus mean to you? These questions must be asked and must be known by those who are believers. The Jews had their chance, the Gentiles did not, and praise the Lord for giving us a way out! HE IS THE WAY! Learn His teachings... learn what FAITHING is and how to do it...learn what makes a work Good in God's eyes...don't follow man... FOLLOW THE ONE AND ONLY LORD WHO CAME TO THIS WORLD WITH THE NAME JESUS!
John 3:11-18 Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. God Bless you and your families this week. (Sermon by John H)

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