Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hungry Hands/Hurting Hearts

What were those miscreants doing?

The warm sun caressed all the people gathered to hear Jesus, but the bright light cast its harsh glare over the people around Din.

 Din, a devote Pharisee, and a number of others came to hear Jesus speak. There was quite a commotion about him among the people. Din suggested they go see about this man for themselves.

Now they were here, and while everything seemed rather harmless at first, it was rapidly spiraling out of control.

Din watched in horror as the men closet to Jesus, those rumored to be his disciples - who Din thought were really just glorified errand boys and traveling companions -  started to eat.

Without washing their hands!

Din turned away just as a bushy haired man plopped a piece of fig into his mouth with his dirt caked hands. Oh, the disgrace!

One look at the other Pharisees showed they were just as appalled as him. He motioned towards Jesus. "We must talk to Jesus about this. This is unacceptable!"

They marched up to Jesus. Din spoke loudly, looking pointedly at the grubby men. "Why do your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?"

Din expected Jesus to thank them for their observation, and for him to discipline the ghastly men.

But to Din's dismay, he did no such thing.

Based on Mark 7:1-8

When I was a kid, I was always told to wash my hands before dinner. "Get them clean!" What a pain in the rear! ;)  I was in need of food, not clean hands!

In this story, the Pharisees are obsessed with washing hands. They see some of the disciples with broken fingernails and dirt caked into the crevasses of their hands. They couldn't believe that the disciples would disregard such a critical tradition.

When the Pharisees whined to Jesus about this, Jesus said, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

Now, I have nothing against hand washing, but there's an important factoid here. The Pharisees cared less about starving men, and more about honoring man-made traditions.

That's a problem. It didn't stop there. No, they cared about their traditions more then seeing the lives of so many broken people restored. They didn't care about the robes of sin being cast aside in exchange for robes of glory. They didn't care about the Messiah right there in front of them ushering in the days they claimed to "thirst and long for."

It's true, God does want obedience. But obedience was never intended to replace God, Himself. When we focus more on rules or make up our own, that is what causes the church to fall apart. Judgment steps in, and people are hurt.

"For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:13

We are supposed to be a people of mercy. Love. Compassion. Traditions are not supposed to rule us. God always steps in and shakes things up. Can we go with His flow, or will we be stuck in the muddy traditions of men?

V. Joy Palmer

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