Read: Mark 7:1-23
Listen: Mark 7
Jesus’ disciples sit down to enjoy a meal without washing their hands. The religious leaders can’t believe Jesus would allow his followers to do this. This isn’t a matter of germs but an issue of spiritual cleanliness. Religious leaders believe external washing is necessary to prevent accidentally becoming unclean before God. What if someone touches an item a sinner had picked up in the marketplace (a location to mark in our journal)? The religious elites believe uncleanness enters them through unwashed hands. Jesus teaches it’s not external uncleanness that defiles. The unclean heart inside reveals itself through outward actions. The Pharisees were so focused on external washing that they neglected the inside.
We often do the same, thinking “I look good, so I must be good.” We check off our external do-good list thinking it will keep us clean before God. Watch the weekend service. Check. Serve in the community. Check. Spend a few minutes reading the Bible. Check. Yet when a child pushes our buttons, we erupt in anger. We scroll a website we should never visit. We slander a friend behind her back. Our outward actions reveal our unclean hearts.
No external action will ever clean up our hearts. Only the power of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross can cleanse our hearts. As we humbly depend on him each day, Jesus will keep the condition of our hearts soft toward him and those around us.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
How’s your heart today? On page 65 of your journal, write out this prayer filling in the blanks as fits your heart today. “Jesus, today my heart is __________ (glad, mad, sad, afraid, thankful). Please fill me with your __________ (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). Amen.”
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.