I am finding the Spirit calling me to walk a little more intentionally through the Gospel of Mark right now, so I have suspended my Daily Office reading for a season to see what the Lord wants to say to me in this gospel, which happens to be my favorite of the four.
Mark 7 is a powerful statement on legalism and prejudice.
Who is “clean”? Who is “IN”?
Legalism is great. It helps us easily define in a quick outward glance or quick verbal examination who is “in” for us.
Legalism is not just for the “right”, either. There are fine examples to the “right” and the “left” on legalism and fundamentalism.
Jesus is encountering this again with the Pharisees. Mark sets up this section (chapter for us) with the definitions of legalism and prejudice, then gives us examples.
There is the example of the Syrophoenician woman (a Gentile) and the deaf man (who lives in a Gentile region and is probably a Gentile as well). Jesus is crushing the religious ideals of legalism and attacking the prejudice of his day.
The prejudice of the religious groups isn’t something limited to Jesus’s day, either. We still deal with it. We make our determinations as to who is “deserving” of the gospel… and who is not. We may not “say” it by our words, but we will certainly “say” it by our actions and financial support… or lack thereof.
One particular quote I wanted to share from the NIV Application Commentary:
Prejudice derives from distrust of an alien group and causes us to swallow lies about their beliefs and conduct. It derives from resentment over their social and economic success, fear of their competition in these areas, or simply because they choose to be different. Demagogues seize on this fear to blame misery on a scapegoat. One can use this passage in an oblique assault on prejudice by substituting a contemporary object of bias for the Syrophoenician woman. The listener may be outraged that Jesus would speak to someone in such a tone and would even consider withholding the help she so desperately wants. Then the listener may realize that this sympathetic figure belongs to a group that excites our hatred or disdain. It may allow the listener to see the prejudice in a new light. The passage may allow one to recognize that all humans share the same desperation when demonic powers and sickness batter us about. All yearn for help — high and low, rich and poor, urban and rural, Jew and Gentile. Jesus turns no one away who comes with humble faith.
We too often fear “different.” We are fearful of our own situation, so we create scapegoats. We blame our perceived misery on “others.”
Jesus goes straight at prejudice and legalism. He demonstrates this is not the Kingdom of God!
We need to grasp the Kingdom way once again. A way that doesn’t fear. A way that understands that ALL matter in the Kingdom. A way that deals with our own fears and helps us see others all over again!
PLEASE NOTE: I have taken a break from social media for time, which I explain HERE. If this post (or others posts on my blog) finds you and you glean something out of it, please share it. Thank you.