Key verse: Mark 7:20
Big idea: The Son of God cleanses within.
We have talked about this illustration that Jesus used before, back when we studied Matthew in January. But I think it is worth returning to, even in a speedy study like this one. The Pharisees challenged Jesus because His disciples were not performing the ritual handwashing that was expected of them. In the minds of these teachers, eating without first purifying would defile the disciples as they ate. Jesus had a different view. He explained that whatever you ate went into your stomach and then into the sewer. It never went to the place that really matters: your heart. Whatever we eat or drink does not change who we are. Nothing we do to our bodies can either contmainate or cleanse our spirits and trying to is the equivalent of washing the outside of a cup while leaving the inside dirty. Maybe someone looking at you from across the table thinks that you are alright but with every drink you know that you are not.
When Colleen and I got married, one of the gifts we got were some small glass milk bottles. They came with a brush that was the right shape to slide in through the mouth of the bottle and scrub the inside. Without that brush, it would be all but impossible to ever get the interior of the bottle really clean because you could not get at the nooks and crannies within. Similarly, the problem with our lives is that we could never really clean where we need to clean! We do not have the right tools.
But Jesus does. His blood cleanses every crevice within us and makes us white as snow from the inside out. He changes our hearts and removes our hidden filth. The Pharisees were concerned with rituals that could never get to the heart of the problem one way or the other but had the distinct advantage of being under their control. Salvation requires surrender and recognition that we cannot handle our problem. But we know who can.
Discussion idea: Why do we seem to prefer an inadequate solution that we can control to a complete one that we cannot?
Prayer focus: Ask God to help you not to judge others by their outward appearance and not to let that same outward illusion make you overly impressed with yourself.