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Message of the Day: Cleanliness of Heart, Racial and Cultural Reconciliation!

Text: Mark 7:1-16

Key Verse: Mark 7:15

There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.” (NKJV)

A common practice of the Jews in Jesus’ time was the ceremonial washing of hands. They believed that those who came in contact with ‘unclean’ people or things had to pour water over their hands to cleanse themselves. This was not a command of the law of Moses but a tradition of the Pharisees. Jesus argued that such traditions not only caused people to misunderstand the law, but stopped them from doing the more important things the the law required.

In support of this assertion, Jesus gave an example. The law of Moses taught people to respect and care for their aged parents, but the Jews had added a tradition that enabled them to ignore their parents. They could make a vow that when they died, their money and goods would be given to the temple. Having promised such things to God, they said they were not free to give them to anyone else, such as needy parents. Yet they themselves continued to enjoy their possessions as long as they lived. Their tradition contradicted the plain teaching of the law.

The Jews would not eat certain foods, believing that such foods made them unclean. Jesus said that jus as eating with unwashed hands did not make a person unclean, neither did eating prohibited foods.

Jesus reminds us that rituals were of no value, that real “uncleanness” is of the heart. If we follow certain traditions that were of strictly human origin, then we make the word of God null and void.

Jesus’ words apply directly to many of the practices that through the centuries have crept into the Christian church. It is amazing with what ingenuity many church leaders strive to find a basis in God’s Word for practices that are known to be of purely human origin. We can use the Word of God to rationalize that which is in some cases in direct opposition to the Word of God.

Furthermore, if we take Jesus’ words literally, they declare the whole clean/unclean distinction emphasized int he law as of only symbolic value. Because this distinction constituted one of the main barriers between Jews and Gentiles, Jesus’ statement opens the way for racial and cultural reconciliation in table fellowship.


Halley, Henry H. Halley’s Bible Handbook. ePub Format. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary. New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.

Olive Tree Bible Software, 1998-2020.

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