Today's Bible Reading: Mark 7
Selected Biblical Text
20 He went on: "What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come -- sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person."
24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
35 At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak." (Mark 7:20-23, 24-26, 35-37 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
In his confrontation with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, Jesus makes clear that they misunderstand what is clean and what is unclean. Ceremonial definitions will never get at the heart of the question. "This is a matter of the heart, and the heart of the matter." Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is only for then and could never apply now! We obviously have our own mistaken definitions of who is an acceptable follower of Jesus and who is not. Is Jesus in this passage preparing the Jews for more redefinitions? Being an outsider (Syrophoenician) does not make one unclean. Being deaf and mute does not make one unclean. Jewish understandings in the first century would have excluded both of the persons whom Jesus helps.
The biblical text notes that Jesus wanted to keep his location secret; and also that Jesus wanted to keep the healing secret. No way! When Jesus is present and powerfully active, secrecy is the one thing that will never happen!
Is the last sentence above a possible explanation of why the contemporary church is so often quiet concerning Jesus? Could it be that he is not obviously present for us? Could it be that we do not see him powerfully at work in our world so that we have little to share?
Dear God, thank you for working in our lives in the past to save us and cleanse us. Please continue to work in our lives in powerful ways, and unloose our tongues so that we may speak plainly and faithfully of the things that we experience. Help our message about Jesus be a message of overwhelming amazement as we seek to bring others to Jesus. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.