“On Your Mark”
The heart of the Matter (Chapter 7 Verses 1-23)
The Lord, with a degree of irony, points at their cleverness in abolishing what God says, side-stepping it (vv9-13). In order to, one can only conclude, with a degree of madness, to follow men. Of course we must remember the state of the human heart (Jeremiah 17.9). The commandment mentioned is the fourth (Exodus 20.12), reinforced with the death penalty for transgression (Exodus 21.17). Which means God is fairly serious about the Divine rule. But not to the Pharisees and Scribes, they with their religious jiggery-pokery simply explain it away. The moral code of God, which still applies to us today, is vitally important. And do you not think in a generation where this commandment is still side-stepped, where parental authority has been nigh-on destroyed. And yes, by the traditions (teachings) of men, that as Christians we should be declaring that moral code with a little more vigour? The way things are degenerating, it will not just be a case of dumping our elderly parents in a home to vegetate, the option of euthanasia will become a reality too. Oh it would never come to that in Britain you argue! No? We said that about abortion. When you think about it, your chances of survival are pretty slim. I mean if you survive the womb, well they will get you at the other end, an early departure to the tomb. The respect, care and consideration for parents does not just apply simply to our childhood days. But, says Jesus, that is not the only command handled this way (v13).
Now he comes to the heart of the matter (v14-16). And to the heart of the Christian gospel. It is a matter of the heart. All the outward business of cultishness and its changes mean nothing. Do you not see, says Jesus, to his own disciples (v18), the Kingdom of God is nothing to do with eating and drinking (Romans 14.17). It is what is in the hearts of people (v20-23) that is what makes the world such an evil place. That is where all the brokenness, all the pain and suffering stem from (Genesis 6.5). The gospel about Jesus (Mark 1.1) brings a transformed heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, through trusting, not in a cultish self-righteousness, but in the righteousness of God (Romans 3.21; 10.1- 4). That is what brings peace with God and the peace of God, and the joy of sins forgiven to the human heart (John 3.16). Of this these cult leaders knew nothing at all. The heart must be changed by hearing the voice of God’s Spirit in the words of Jesus (v16; John 6.63; John 3.3). Nothing else profits or matters.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)