Tag Archives: legalism

Devotional on Mark

Contamination

Mark 8: Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of the Pharisees.

Huge, undeniable miracles are being worked by Jesus every day. He’s just finished feeding 4000 with just seven loaves of bread and he’s about to give sight to a blind man. Meanwhile, his approach is angering the most religious people: the Pharisees. One of their number demands that Jesus do a miracle for him. Jesus refuses and promises that this man will never see one. You’d think that Jesus and the Pharisees would be best friends. These religious leaders are knowledgeable, committed, and faithful. Many of their traits fit perfectly with Jesus’ call that people take up their cross and follow him. However, instead of being some of the most exemplary disciples in the world they become the source of pain and division. They end up killing Jesus and then, after the resurrection, trying to kill the Church. Jesus, after his encounter with this specific Pharisee, warns his disciples about the danger of being contaminated by them. It’s a very short journey from being radically in love with Jesus to being radically in love with one’s beliefs about Jesus. It’s all too easy to take one’s eyes off him and to start looking around at other followers and deciding that they don’t quite measure up. Just down the page from this incident, Peter first confesses that Jesus is the Messiah and is almost immediately told by the Lord that he’s acting as Satan. Listen, it’s easier than we think it is to be contaminated by the yeast of the Pharisees. Long after their branch of Judaism has dried up, their legacy of division lives on.

Take Away: I want to love Jesus and avoid being too much in love with my opinions and beliefs about him.

Devotional on Mark

Maybe instead of Weight Watchers we need to join Word Watchers

Mark 7: Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you?

The Old Testament Hebrews had lots of rules and regulations about diet and an admirable trait of cleanliness. The Pharisees of the New Testament take all that to the extreme. When some of the disciples eat without going through their prescribed pre-meal washing ritual the Pharisees complain about it to Jesus. Our Lord responds in force, challenging these men who know better about how they play fast and loose with God’s Laws when it suits them. Later on, he tells his disciples that worrying too much about what we put into our bodies while ignoring the words and actions that “come out” of our bodies is rather stupid. To state it delicately, what enters through the mouth exits elsewhere. However, what comes out of the mouth has its source in the heart. So, I wonder what it is that comes out of my heart. Are my words pure or impure? Do I lift people with my words or do I demolish them? What comes out of my mouth tells more about me than what goes in. Maybe instead of joining Weight Watchers I need to join “Word Watchers.”

Take Away: I’ll learn a lot about myself if I listen to the kinds of things I say.