Read Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
7 Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus. 2They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their food with hands that were ritually unclean—that is, they had not washed them in the way the Pharisees said people should.
3 (For the Pharisees, as well as the rest of the Jews, follow the teaching they received from their ancestors: they do not eat unless they wash their hands in the proper way; 4nor do they eat anything that comes from the market unless they wash it first.l And they follow many other rules which they have received, such as the proper way to wash cups, pots, copper bowls, and beds.m )
5 So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, “Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?”
6 Jesus answered them, “How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote:
‘These people, says God, honour me with their words,
but their heart is really far away from me.
7It is no use for them to worship me,
because they teach human rules
as though they were God’s laws!’
8 “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”
14 Then Jesus called the crowd to him once more and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15There is nothing that goes into a person from the outside which can make him ritually unclean. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that makes him unclean.”
21For from the inside, from a person’s heart, come the evil ideas which lead him to do immoral things, to rob, kill, 22commit adultery, be greedy, and do all sorts of evil things; deceit, indecency, jealousy, slander, pride, and folly- 23all these evil things come from inside a person and make him unclean.”
Jesus calls religious people to examine their hearts - not their associations or observations of specific religious rituals.
Our attitudes and actions make us unclean - and ruin the world. Jesus comes to change our hearts - so that his love flows out.
Lord you know the immoral things that seem to come from my heart. Change my attitudes so that I can change my behaviour.