Friday, January 15, 2010

Reading Through The New Testament - Mark 7

Just to refresh your memory, I'm using the Discipleship Journal's reading plan to journey through the NT this year in my devotional reading. The plan has you reading a chapter a day 5 days in a row with a two day break for reflection. I've kept the pace in reading but journalling here - not so much. I'll try to catch up.

One of the challenges for me is not pulling out the tools I use when preparing to teach and just reading for the purpose of allowing the text to work on me. So if the comments seem to be "top of mind" and not theologically deep or particularly precise - that's by intention. I'm determined to let the Word work in my heart without my "help."

So, Mark Chapter 7

- Rituals and traditions and traditional people. Apparently Jesus didn't go through all the ritualistic washing of hands that the professional religious people did. And His disciples picked that up from him, or perhaps there was a big disconnect between what the common people did in practice and what the priests and those like them did. Always one of the biggest sources for friction in churches - one person or group decides what everyone should do/follow.
- They called out Jesus on it and He was having none of it. "Hypocrites!" Then He played the prophet card and quoted Isaiah.
8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.
Mark 7:8-9 (NLT)
- and He gave examples. This confrontation was sharp and personal. And Jesus kept giving example after example and said there were "many more." No doubt the Pharisees were furious.
- Then He called the crowd over and let them know what the specific problem with substituting man made tradition for God's way is - you live the wrong way - valuing the wrong things and not relying on God in everything.
- Then He left and went into a home to get some peace and the disciples pressed Him for more information. He tried to help them understand that following God wasn't about food or traditions but about how you lived in response to God's grace. Your actions - not what you ate or drank - helped you see where you are with God and determined whether you could count yourself as His.
- Then a curious episode with a gentile woman follows. Given the mess with traditional Jews just prior, this seems especially harsh on one end and especially Jew-centric as well. Given Jesus' response though, I think He was testing the woman to see if she had heresay faith in what Jesus could do, or faith in Him for Who He is.
- The chapter closes with a trip north to Tyre and Sidon where the crowds were warm and Jesus healed a deaf man in a way He never had done. Perhaps there was some regional belief that method played into - don't know as I read this. But the man was healed and miraculously was able to hear and to speak plainly.
37 They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”
Mark 7:37 (NLT)

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