Sermon Summary and Discussion Questions | "True Defilement, True Forgiveness"

Outline:

1. Jesus’ Concise Response to the Pharisees (7:14-15)

2. Jesus’ Complete Treatment of the Subject to the Disciples (7:17-23)

3. Conclusion and Application

 

 

Summary:

1. Jesus’ Concise Response to the Pharisees (7:14-15)

Previously, there was a conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leaders pertaining to ritual washing (7:1-13). In verse 5 the Pharisees and Scribes reproached Jesus by inquiring about his seemingly lack of adherence to the “tradition of the elders,” and in turn, he and his disciples did not wash their hands before eating. Here in 7:14-15, Jesus addresses this question further. However, the matter merely about hand-washing rituals is now expanded to a discussion about the deeper meaning of defilement and cleanliness. The issue now addressed is not simply on how to eat (i.e., hand-washing), but what is eaten (cf. Stein, Mark. ECNT, 344).

Jesus begins by summoning the crowd of people with urgency, calling for them to “hear” and “understand” (7:14; cf. 4:3. 9, 13; 8:17, 21). The response to the Jewish leaders is given in a concise “parable” (cf. 7:17): “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him” (7:15; ESV). Jesus exposes the contradictory nature of the Pharisaic traditions over against Scriptural commandments (cf. Lane, Mark, 253). The issue of importance is the inner purity of the heart, not what passes through the stomach (see Stein, Mark. ECNT, 344).

2. Jesus’ Complete Treatment of the Subject to the Disciples (7:17-23)

The public lesson on purity now turns to a private discussion between Jesus and his disciples (7:17). It seems too that the disciples are slow to “understand” the teachings of Jesus (7:18a; cf. 7:14, also 6:52; 8:17). He expounds further, stating how food (whether clean or unclean according to Pharisaic rule) passes through the physical digestive tract (i.e., the stomach), and does not “defile” the moral or ethical part of a person (i.e., the heart). Moreover, it is not so much what enters a person that defiles him, but what comes from the heart—e.g., evil thoughts, sexual immorality, deceit, envy, etc. (7:20). Thus, it is not food that defiles, but it is a fallen heart from which sin derives.

Mark provides an editorial comment affirming that all food is considered “clean” before God. From his Christological authority, Jesus supersedes the Torah. Moreover, this statement should be understood in light of the entire Gospel narrative, which describes the eschatological event of God’s coming Kingdom (cf. 1:15). Old Testament food regulations have now come to an end under the reign of Christ, who brings a new covenant (cf. 14:24).

3. Conclusion and Application

This passage shows us our need for cleansing. Holiness is not merely an external dilemma, but an internal one. The religious leaders had a deficient view of the doctrine of sin, which led to their distorted view of holiness. Therefore, rightly understanding the depravity of one’s heart should drive us to seek cleansing from God. This passage beckons us to ask the question: “Where do we go to find cleansing?” In Jesus Christ, the arrival of God’s Kingdom has come. Cleansing comes from him and him alone.

Such truth should have three effects on us: (1) it should humble us, (2) it should amaze us, and (3) it protects us from error. As we gaze at the grace of God in the person and work of Christ, who brings holiness for a sinful people, we should be utterly humbled. The depth of sin, juxtaposed with the depth of Christ’s suffering should amaze us. And a balanced understanding of our sin and salvation protects us from self-righteousness.

 

Discussion Questions:

In what ways does Jesus reorient our understanding of “holiness” in this passage? How does this encourage/challenge you in your pursuit for holiness?

This passage shows us our need for cleansing. Rightly understanding the depravity of one’s heart should drive us to seek cleansing from God. As we examine our own hearts, how does this drive us to seek cleansing from God?

At the end of his sermon, C.J. listed three effects this passage should have on us: (1) it should humble us, (2) it should amaze us, and (3) it protects us. What are some specific ways this passage humbles you? How does it amaze you? In what ways does this passage protect you from error?