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Controversy with the Pharisees (Mark 7)

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Mark 7

Controversy with the Pharisees
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus; 2 and they saw that some of his disciples ate with unclean hands, that is, unwashed. 3 The Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they first wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they first purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze. 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him: Why don't your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unclean hands? 6 And he said to them: Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honour me with their lips but their heart is far from me. 7 But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. 8 You leave the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men.
   9 And he said to them: You are good at rejecting the commandment of God so that you can establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honour your father and your mother, and, He that speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death. 11 But you say: If a man tells his father or his mother: Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is to say, an offering to God), 12 you no longer let him to do anything for his father or his mother- thus 13 making void the word of God by your tradition which you have delivered; and you do many similar things.

The source of sin
   14 And again he called to him the crowd, and said to them: Hear me all of you, and understand. 15 There is nothing from outside the man that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
   17 When he had entered a house away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them: Are you without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever from without goes into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 because it does not go into his heart but into his belly and is eliminated [this he said, thus making all foods clean]. 20 And he said: That which proceeds out of the man is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.

Jesus responds to requests for healing
   24 From there he arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and wanted no one to know it; but he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. And she pleaded with him to cast out the demon from her daughter. 27 And he said to her: Let the children first be filled, for it is not right to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs. 28 But she answered and said to him: Indeed, Lord. But even the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. 29 And he said to her: For this saying go your way. The demon is gone out of your daughter. 30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.
   31 And again he left from the borders of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him one that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the crowd, and in private put his fingers into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue; 34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him: Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. 36 And he ordered them that they should tell no one. But the more he ordered them, the more widely they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying: He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.



7:6 Isaiah spoke to the people of his generation, but Jesus says he spoke about those of the first century. God’s word is living and relevant and speaks to each of us. Thus the Old Testament ceases to be mere history- it is speaking to us today.

7:7 The fact people worship God doesn’t mean they are therefore with God- there’s such a thing as worshipping Him in vain, if we have the wrong understanding of Him.

7:9 The Jews would’ve been shocked to hear that they rejected God’s commandments. Jesus’ generation were one of the most Torah observant there has been in Israel’s history. But to follow human tradition as well as God’s commandments is to effectively reject them. The Bible presents human failure in very stark terms.

7:11 We shouldn’t try to get around God’s intentions by legalistic interpretations. 7:18 It’s good to try to imagine the tone of voice with which Jesus said these written words. Was it with frustration, anger, sadness or disappointment?

7:19-21 Sin comes from within. The human mind is a constant source of temptation. This is the real ‘Satan’ or adversary which we face.

7:29 Jesus is so thrilled when people understand correctly.

7:33 The saliva of Jesus represents His words. The people thought that merely touching a holy man would effect a cure (v. 32). So Jesus shows that actually far more intimate contact with Him is required than mere touch of itself. He puts His hands in the man’s ears and spits onto his tongue. See on 5:28.

7:34 Jesus could pray with eyes open looking up at the sky. Can we do this? He sighed, as He groaned whilst healing Lazarus (Jn. 11:38). This may have been the intensity of His prayer- and even now He prays for us in Heaven with such groaning (Rom. 8:26). In this sense Jesus is the same today as He was then (Heb. 13:8). Or His sighing and groaning may have been the result of how deeply He entered into others’ situations, and so longed for the pain of humanity to end.

7:37 He has done all things well – Echoes the comment on creation, that it was “very good”. Jesus was and is making a new creation, of people.