The heart

Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23

We're back in Mark and I want to really note this transition because this gospel writer has a different emphasis. Mark's gospel is thin, its accounts are short, it is brief and rough. We don't get flowery Spirit language, we don't have super Jesus, we don't strive for deeper, hidden meaning. Mark's gospel is basic Jesus. We dive back into Mark at a hard place too. We had been seeing miracles of healing in Mark when we left and now we are getting into a discourse. This is just after the storm and its calming, just after the feeding of the five thousand, and almost smack dab in the middle of the gospel's sixteen chapters.

Jesus is being asked by the religious leaders why the disciples are not observing a practice from the Talmud, another piece of Jewish law. This lack of observance determines what is clean and unclean. Jesus responds by quoting Isaiah and calling them hypocrites, observing their is a part of the law they don't observe from the Torah, honor your mother and father, by hiding under a loophole in the law. This makes their judgment irrelevant. Jesus explains further that it is the heart which defiles and not what goes through your stomach.

We start to get into our Pentecost journey with this story. It is teaching us about discipleship, about what it means to be spiritually thoughtful. Walter Wink says that whenever we come to this explosive word of God we must expect not to be informed, but transformed. If we look at Mark's story today isn't it asking us to do things that are sometimes hard. Because operating out of our heart in response to what is clean and unclean or what is right or wrong keeps us always changing perspective. It asks us to be open to more possibilities. It also makes the law not one we can write down, but one we have to work out in our own hearts.

This is a humbling thought, because how can we always get it right? How can we be trusted when we so often get it wrong? Yet Jesus asks us to start trying. This is a great burden of discipleship questioning where we are, who are we judging, is what we are doing authentic. It is what we are talking about in "Crazy Christians" daring greatly about the mystery of the good news. Talking about hymns that inspire us, that point to something greater than ourselves which helps us to dare to do great things. All we have to do is dare to step out into a new direction and this means struggle.

The disciples today don't understand what Jesus is trying to say with this. Their picture of the religious leader always being right is being challenged. Their start in a deeper law of the heart is just beginning and this is what we are being asked today. Do we dare to begin to live by the law written on our hearts? Do we dare to try and get it right and ask forgiveness for when we fail? Do we dare to jump off and try something that just may mean something new in this world and change for God's heart? That is good news.