Mark Chapter 7
Traditions and Commandments
This passage begins with the Pharisees gathering around, and once again pointing fingers at Jesus and his disciples. If you are not familiar with Jewish traditions and culture this passage may seem a little weird at first. Why do they care that Jesus and the disciples are eating with unwashed hands? It’s not like sanitation was a big thing back then, so what is the big deal right?
I’m going to jump out of the word really quick and point a few things out. Firstly, I am not stating anything that is not in Bible because I am not a scholar of the Jewish culture. Thankfully, Mark was writing these words for people that were not familiar with Jewish culture, so we get a little glimpse of it. What I do understand from other research Jewish culture you must be wash your hands so you are clean before eating. The food in the market must be cleaned thoroughly before being consumed. The rituals pointed out by Mark are to help us understand the traditional rituals for purity in that culture.
Now, diving back into the word. The main word for the first two passages in chapter 7 is the word defiled. The word was meant to be used to explain unwashed or unclean hands, but there is also a deeper meaning behind it. Romans 14:14 says, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean.” This is important to know as we go through the rest of the passage because knowing that through Jesus nothing is unclean, it is in the eye of the beholder.
In verse 6 and 7, Jesus is pointing out that the teachings the Pharisees are trying to scorn Jesus on is a manmade teaching of what the meaning of clean should be. He points out what Isiah taught explaining that even though they are “teaching” the way of God their hearts are far from the truth and more set on manmade commandments.
Then Jesus throws a curveball at the Pharisees. He tells them in verse 9 that they are losing sight of the commandments and changing the teachings into something they can benefit from by passing it off as tradition. By doing so the teaching of the Word passed down from generation, Moses mentioned in the passage, is changed into earthly traditions that void out the Word of God.
Romans 2:23 explains, “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” The Pharisees were pointing fingers on an earthly tradition and were forgetting to lean on the Word of God that had been passed down to them.
Now I’m not saying that traditions aren’t a good way to remember the old ways of how things were done and things passed down in your culture and family, but do you lean more on the traditions to direct your life instead of the Word of God?
What Defiles a Person
Here is the word defile again. This passage is starting where the last one ended. Jesus is now explaining what can actually defile your life. He explains that it is not what you consume (so food), but it is what consumes you. The world that we live in, even back then, is completely corrupted. We are all confronted each day with worldly things; however, it is what we decide to take from this world that can change us. 1 Corinthians 6:9;6:11 describe what happens for those who decide to live for the world and those who live for Christ. Those who chose to live of the world will not be apart of the kingdom of God, but those who step away from the darkness of the world and follow the way Jesus lived are saved. I feel that this is where the saying, “What Would Jesus Do” comes in handy.
Take a minute and think about your life at the moment. Are you choosing to wake up every morning to live in the shadows of the world or in the light with God?
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
Now we follow Jesus to a new region where a woman begged for Jesus to heal her daughter who had an unclean spirit. The conversation between Jesus and this woman is actually a really important message. Jesus tells her to make sure she feeds the children first and then the dogs, and her answer was that she always feeds her children first but the dogs eat their crumbs.
Let’s look at this. Children need to be fed and want to be fed even though they may not eat everything they are given. Dogs on the other hand do eat almost everything they think smells good. The children symbolize those who yearn for the word of God and believe in the change. The dogs are those who will grasp on to the idea of something and if it presents itself as good they will grab on to it. By the woman feeding the children first, at some point crumbs will fall and the dogs will be fed too.
I like to explain it as a circle of friends. Let’s say that I have a group of three I am talking too, but only one really listens to what I am saying. At some point what I said will come up and will be resaid by that one listener. The next time they come back there are now four instead of three because the one that listened first thought what I said would mean something to others. Now I have three more people that will go out and explain what I have said to other people in a group. Then more people come back.
If you give the information to that one person over and over again at some point the Word of God will come out of their mouths and will impact someone else that they will begin to bring along with them.
Jesus Heals a Deaf Man
In this part of the journey Jesus heals a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. This man symbolizes the great commission that Jesus has come to for. In Isiah 35:5-6 is says, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped; [. . .] and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” The healings that Jesus has done was written already in Isiah!
Jesus was sent to heal us of our sins and hurt. We, in a way, can be the deaf man healed at points in our lives. There are times where we close ourselves off from God due to us being human and thinking we can do it all alone. Then we blame God for not talking to us and telling us what we want or think we need.
However, if you can’t hear God it’s not because He left you and stopped talking, it is because you stopped trying to listen.
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
Starting off chapter 8 we have Jesus doing another amazing miracle of feeding another four thousand people with seven loaves of bread. Yet again, the disciples are not sure if Jesus can actually feed the people who came to hear Him.
It was very important at this point for Jesus to feed the four thousand. Based on where they are geographically there aren’t many Jews coming to hear Jesus, so catching their attention and having them stay and listen was important. It also would not be right, Jesus even points this out, to send people home who really and truly risked a lot to come and hear Him speak without being fed because most of them would not be able to make the journey home. When Jesus fed them, it says they were all satisfied.
The word “satisfied” jumps out because that is how I am when I read the Word. I am satisfied that God has a plan for me based on what He tells me in scripture.
Through Jesus our hunger for a full and truthful life is made complete.
The Pharisees Demand a Sign + The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod
The Pharisees traveled to Dalmanutha to again watch Jesus and see if there was anything that could help them stop Him. This time however, they tested Jesus to see if He really had the power of God with Him. If you think back to the beginning of Jesus’ journey Satan also tested Him and tried to trip Him up.
The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign from heaven. Jesus only replied asking why they must have a sign to believe. This can be us at times. We are going about living the life that we want at times and ask God for a sign or anything about answering our desires.
We need to change this mindset and rather ask God how He wants to use us to better His kingdom instead of how He can better our lives because of what we want.
Jesus then gets on a boat to go to the other side of Dalmanutha with his disciples. While on the boat the group noticed that there was only one loaf of bread. If I was on the boat, I honestly would not have worried about not having food because I would have just witnessed twice Jesus making a bunch of food out of such a small portion. However, the disciples were worrying like they would not make it to the other side alive because they had one loaf of bread to split between them all.
That is when Jesus asked them if they really did not understand who He is or what He could do for them. He then quotes what was said in Jeremiah 5:21, “Hear this O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but not see, who have ears, but not hear.”
The disciples were letting the fear and worry of the world drown out what miracles Jesus could perform through them. They needed to believe what He could do before they could go out and truly spread the Word of God.
Jesus Heals a Blind Man in Bethsaida + Peter Confesses Jesus as Christ
These next two passages actually correlate to each other with there being three main points throughout both.
The first point that can be tied together is Jesus asking, “What do you see” towards the blind man and “Who do they believe I am” towards the disciples. The answer actually helps explain a deep meaning through the passages. The blind man responds saying he sees people that look like walking trees, and the disciples said that others think of Jesus as either John the Baptist or the prophet Elijah.
The blind man seeing the walking trees is a description of what people saw Jesus as. Jesus was spreading the word, but because people were blinded by the other prophets it was hard to grasp something that had not happened yet.
The second point that is tied together is the blind man finally able to see completely and Peter proclaiming Jesus as Christ. After having seen the unthinkable, for the blind man people that looked like trees and for Peter the miracles Jesus had performed, they both had the faith to be restored. When Peter explained that others saw Jesus as John the Baptist or Elijah, but noticed that neither of the others had been able to do what Jesus did proved that Jesus was the Son of God.
Lastly, Jesus instructing the blind man and the disciples to not tell anyone about Him. Think about it. Why would Jesus want the blind man who just saw talking trees or a disciple who just somewhat comprehended who is was to go out and tell others of Him when what was being taught was dangerous. Peter at least needed to have a better understanding and teaching before going out.
It’s like God calling me to do this blog. I couldn’t just create a blog without understanding what He wanted me to do. I needed to take the time to plan it out and pray over it.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
The first couple of words are very important to read, “And he began to teach them.” Up until now Jesus was trying to show the disciples who He was, but He couldn’t make them believe. Just like we aren’t forced to believe in Him, He gave us that choice. Now that the disciples fully grasp who Jesus is it is now the time for Jesus to tell them what is supposed to happen to Him.
I love pointing out in this passage that Jesus knew He would be put on the cross, but He also knew that death could not contain Him. How cool is it that He proclaimed that before it even happened?
We then have Peter rebuke Jesus because of the human side saying that it can’t happen that way. Jesus knows that this is the enemy trying to creep in and bring in doubt. I love that Jesus just says, “Get behind me, Satan!” This is just another indicator that Jesus has power over the enemy as well.
The last part of this passage is a very big take away from our lesson here in Mark and also a take away for how we live our life. Jesus explains in verses 35-38 what life with and without God looks like.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my word in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
The scripture above is that invitation to help further the kingdom of God or to sit aside and live in the world, but you can’t have both. Before you go continue on with the rest of your day I challenge you to look at your life and see if you are living in the world, half way in and half way out, or if you are living for God.
Jesus wants us to fight for Him and grow His kingdom with Him. However, He won’t force you to make that decision. If you are stuck in the world or in the middle of the world and God, but you want to give it all to God use this little prayer as a way to talk to God about giving your life to Him.
I know that I have been living in the ways of the world. I know that with you all things are made new. Lord, I know that you sent you Son to die for my sins and save me from the world. I pray, Lord, that you take my willing heart and mold it into the child of yours that you have planned for me to be. Thank you for being merciful and gracious. Thank you for wanting to have that relationship with me. Thank you, Lord, for giving me the chance to give my all to you.
If you prayed that prayer please contact me so that I can pray for you individually as you start this amazing journey with Christ, and WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!