Am i… Will i… holy – pursue

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Wandering Thoughts

 Holiness requires radical change. Mark 7 describes an incident which laid the foundation for radical change. Yes it’s a large chunk of scripture but, necessary to get this perspective on holiness.

 1NOW THERE gathered together to [Jesus] the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2For they had seen that some of His disciples ate with common hands, that is, unwashed [with hands defiled and unhallowed, because they had not given them a ceremonial washing]. Seems trivial, but these people were great at judging outward actions. They actually gathered together from Jerusalem to Jesus because the disciples had not given there hands a ceremonial washing.

3For the Pharisees and all of the Jews do not eat unless [merely for ceremonial reasons] they wash their hands [diligently up to the elbow] with clenched fist, adhering [carefully and faithfully] to the tradition of [practices and customs handed down to them by] their forefathers [to be observed]. 4And [when they come] from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions [oral, man-made laws handed down to them, which they observe faithfully and diligently, such as], the washing of cups and wooden pitchers and widemouthed jugs and utensils of copper and beds–

5And the Pharisees and scribes kept asking [Jesus], (they wouldn’t let it go) Why do Your disciples not order their way of living according to the tradition handed down by the forefathers [to be observed], but eat with hands unwashed and ceremonially not purified? 6But He said to them, excellently and truly [so that there will be no room for blame] did Isaiah prophesy of you, the pretenders and hypocrites, as it stands written: These people [constantly] honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from Me. 7In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching [to be obeyed] as doctrines the commandments and precepts of men. 8You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men [keeping it carefully and faithfully]. 9And He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)! 10For Moses said, Honor (revere with tenderness of feeling and deference) your father and your mother, and, He who curses or reviles or speaks evil of or abuses or treats improperly his father or mother, let him surely die. 11But [as for you] you say, A man is exempt if he tells [his] father or [his] mother, What you would otherwise have gained from me [everything I have that would have been of use to you] is Corban, that is, is a gift [already given as an offering to God],12Then you no longer are permitting him to do anything for [his] father or mother [but are letting him off from helping them]. 13Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on. And many things of this kind you are doing. 14And He called the people to [Him] again and said to them, Listen to Me, all of you, and understand [what I say]. 15There is not [even] one thing outside a man which by going into him can pollute and defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him and make him unhallowed and unclean.

The scribes and Pharisees were upset because Jesus’ disciples did not ceremonially cleanse their hands before eating. This is not the kind of hand-washing mom required of me as a child before i ate. Mom wanted my hands to be clean in a healthy sense, free of dirt and germs. The Jews wanted people to eat with ceremonial cleanness.  This was a cleanness defined by a different standard—the traditions of the elders. They had added all kinds of cleansings to the Law of God and then came to regard their definition of “clean” more highly than that which God had established.

Jesus pointed out that it was worse to add human standards to those of divine origin. But it was quite another to use these standards to set aside and even violate the Laws of God. This is exactly what Judaism had done, and Jesus exposed their hypocrisy in so doing. The Law required that one should honor their father and mother. This included caring for them in their times of need. And yet the Jews had devised a way to avoid this liability. They “dedicated their money to God” using the term “Corban” to do so and then excused themselves from their obligations to their parents by claiming that this was God’s money. So to speak, it was “holy money,” which they claimed could no longer be used to care for their aging parents. But it could be used to satisfy any of their lusts like, a vacation.

i see that holiness is not about form and function. Just going through the motions does not make me holy, yet being holy does take into acount my words and actions. Holiness is a call God has made of His people since the exodus. It is holiness which sets me apart from the world and to God. It is “TO” holiness i am called “TO” pursue and “TO” practice, “TO” the glory of God and “TO” my good.


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