Mark 7:1-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Tradition of the Elders
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
What “religious rules” do we break so that we can — above all else — build relationships with Others? This is counterintuitive because we value holiness, living the Way, and attending to and behaving normatively within our Vibrant Family at FUMCWP. Yet Jesus condemns (us) the religious people for using scripture to divide themselves (ourselves) from others. Christianity means Love of God and Love of Other. All. Everyone Else. Those People. We can no longer be in ministry to people or be in ministry for people. As His disciples, we are in ministry WITH people. Let’s break some rules together and be transformed!
~Rev. Michele Van Son Neill
Mark 7:14-23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
The Jewish authorities of the day, scribes and the Pharisees, are concerned with maintaining the religious traditions, that they perceive as what makes them devout and virtuous. Yet they follow these traditions in a way that they lose the heart behind all these traditions. They use them to exclude people by deciding who is “in” and who is not “in.” Jesus challenges them by paraphrasing the words of the prophet Isaiah in 29:13 “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
~Rev. Gary Rideout
Mark 7:24-37 focus on 7:24-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus Cures a Deaf Man
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
At first glance, Jesus’ response to the Syrophoenician woman’s request was at best hurtful and a bit disconcerting however that did not stop her from approaching the Christ. Her daughter needed healing to be whole and she believed Jesus was the healer. The gentile woman had faith in the man Jesus, the Son of God, when the disciples and religious leaders doubted the Divine presence. Her faith and trust that God’s grace was for all people, regardless of gender, status, or culture, was rewarded by the blessed healing of her daughter. God’s grace abounds for all people.
Mark 8:1-30 focus on 8:22-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Feeding the Four Thousand
In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
The Demand for a Sign
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
1) I am moved by the friends of the blind man. They believe with all their heart that Jesus can help their friend, and take him to Jesus. Are there signs in my life that cause others to believe that Jesus has made a difference in me, and can do the same in theirs? Witness – I’m always a witness.
2) I am moved by the blind man. He wants to see – and not just see, but see clearly. Boy, do I appreciate the patience of Jesus when I ask and ask for clarity! He gently takes me by the hand, opens my eyes to what’s already in front of me, and beckons, “You want more? Come deeper.” Learning – I’m always learning.
Mark 9:2-29 focus on 9:2-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
The Coming of Elijah
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”
The Healing of a Boy with a Spirit
When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
I love verse 6 of this passage, it is one of those places that I feel particularly close to Peter. Peter starts talking before he had thought everything through. We have picked up that Peter is a verbal processor. Sometimes this is good, “you are the Messiah,” sometimes not, rebuking Jesus, leading to the stinging, “get behind me Satan,” line. Mark covers for him but I can relate to the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and feeling that I have to say or do something.
We are not called to memorialize Christ by building monuments. But recognize that Jesus is revealing that he is fulfilling what was written in Malachi 4, that God himself would return to his people and that Elijah (John the Baptist) had declared this coming. Jesus doesn’t want Peter to build a temple, but to rest in the supernatural revelation that God came down. God came down so that we would recognize God’s love for us and realize that we have already been made into temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
~Rev. Craig Blocher
*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.
Promiseland Toy Box
Serving During Lent
- #LunchBag – 10:00am-12:00pm
Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble 200-300 bagged lunches and deliver to the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great event for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands & feet of Christ in serving others.
- Open House – 10:00am-2:00pm
Take a tour of our campus to see the new home for TCA.
- Free Lunch Food! – 11:00am-2:00pm