Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays. This week, Randy has provided his reflections on Mark's seventh chapter.
God captured Randy's (and his wife Debbie's) heart for the nations as a new believer in college at North Dakota State University. They have a deep love and passion to see all peoples, especially Muslims know Jesus as Messiah and Lord. They train and equip laborers to more effectively bring the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom to Muslims hopefully resulting in disciple-making movements among Muslims.
On a personal note, I met Randy while I was a student myself at NDSU. I have always been struck by Randy in two ways. He has a passion for the Scriptures and he has a passion for helping people to meet and know Jesus in a transformational way. I love Randy's passion, and I am thankful for his ministry. I hope you are encouraged by his reflections on Mark Seven.
Overview of Mark's seventh chapter
Mark 7 continues to show the rule and authority of the Messiah. This chapter answers the question: “What makes one clean or unclean in God’s Kingdom?
Jesus corrects the Pharisees and scribes caught in their traditions and points them to the authority of the Scriptures. Jesus makes it very clear that keeping religious rituals does not make one clean. He tells them and all the people to check what’s in their heart. A person is defiled morally by what he thinks in his heart even though he observes the purity rituals.
A wrong focus with emphasis on keeping religious rituals to gain purity will cause one to ignore God’s word.
vs 8 You neglect the commandment of God and hold to the traditions of men
vs 9 You set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition
vs13 You invalidate the word of God by your traditions which you have handed down
The disciples don’t get it. They fail to understand Jesus’ words. They were well versed in the teachings of the Jewish elders but this was something new. But they kept being with Jesus and asked for help in understanding. He describes the evil thoughts on the inside that makes one unclean. Evil thoughts generated in the heart unite with one’s will to produce evil words and evil actions.
Digging deeper into the evil thoughts of the heart – what’s in your heart?
6 plural nouns depicting wicked acts
Fornications or Sexual Immorality (porneiai, illicit sexual activities of various kinds)
Adulteries (moicheiai, illicit sexual relations by a married person)
Greed, Deeds of Coveting (pleonexial, “covetings”, insatiable cravings for what belongs to another)
Malice, Deeds of Wickedness (poneriai, “wickenesses”, the many ways evil thoughts express themselves
6 singular nouns depicting evil dispositions
Deceit (dolos, cunning maneuvers designed to ensnare someone for one’s personal advantage)
Sensuality or Lewdness (aselgeia, unrestrained and unconcealed immoral behavior)
Envy (opthalmos poneros, lit, “an evil eye”, a Heb expression for stingimess, a begrudging, jealous attitude toward the possessions of others
Slander (blashemia, injurious or defaming speech against God or man)
Pride or Arrogance (huperephania, boastfully exalting oneself above others who are viewed with scornful contempt)
Foolishness or Folly (aphrosyne, moral and spiritual insensitivity)
All of these evils defile a person and have their source from inside, from one’s heart. Jesus takes the focus of attention away from external rituals and places the emphasis on the need for God to cleanse one’s evil heart.
Jesus enters Gentile lands
Jesus then moves to a region considered unclean – Tyre and Sidon still further to the north, a Gentile place. Just associating with a Gentile made one unclean according to the tradition of the elders. That is why they washed after going to the market, there may have been Gentiles there. Here he finds a desperate woman, desperate for her little daughter.
She has been looking for hope and finds the one who cannot remain hidden. She comes to him. She falls at his feet. She keeps on asking him. When he gives an answer that might turn others away, she answers him wisely. Jesus answers the cries of this desperate persistent woman who cares for her child.
One can notice a huge contrast between the traditions of the elders and this gentile woman. The traditions break the commandment of God leading to a breakdown of the family (i.e what might have been used to help one’s parents is ‘dedicated to the Lord’ thus nullifying the 5th commandment to honor father and mother).
The last paragraph of chapter 7 takes us back to the region of Decapolis. We were here before in chapter 5 – this unclean Gentile area. Previously, the people were begging Jesus to leave, but now they bring Jesus one who was deaf and dumb and beg Jesus to heal him. Indeed, Jesus does all things well, He even makes the deaf to hear and mute to speak.
What do we learn about Jesus?
The King of the Kingdom of God is for all people. He is concerned that traditions may keep us from God’s Word. He is patient in helping his disciples understand. Jesus breaks cultural divides – he interacts with a woman Gentile. His authority and power is available to the nations (Gentiles). A little gentile girl is released of a demon. A deaf and dumb gentile man is healed. The King is here for all peoples!
What do we learn about following Jesus?
I love the interaction of Jesus and this Gentile woman. He tries not to be noticed, but she is searching for one who can help. When she finds him she comes to him and falls at his feet. She persists in her request and she learns more of Him in the process. She believes his words. Much like the disciples. They keep being with Jesus. They don’t understand but they keep spending time with this amazing man Jesus and their lives are changed.
How will we follow Him this week?
- Do I have any traditions/habits in my life that are hindering me from following Jesus daily, that are keeping me from spending time with Him?
- How do I treat others that are different from me? How can I reflect the love of Jesus to them?
- Am I burdened enough for hurting people to keep on persistently praying for the rule and reign and power of Jesus to come into their world? How can I grow in my prayer life?
- Am I struggling with any impure or wicked thoughts? Confess and ask God to cleanse you (I John 1:9). Focus on the wonder and majesty of Jesus.