Clean Hands - Clean Heart
Jesus is concerned about what is in our heart.
Hand soap, sanitary wipes, or a bottle of hand sanitizer.
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?" Mark 7:5 (NIV)
I remember times when I was a child that my mother would call out, "Dinner is ready!" and we would all gather at the dinner table. Many times I had been outside playing and my hands were quite dirty. As I sat down at my place at the dinner table, my mother would almost always ask, "Did you wash your hands?" I must confess that sometimes I would answer, "Yes" when the truth of the matter was that I had come straight to the dinner table without washing my hands.
Do you always wash your hands before you eat? (Allow the children to answer.) Clean hands are one of the most important ways to help us stay healthy. Even when our hands look clean, they have germs on them that can make us sick. It is a good idea to use soap or a hand sanitizer to make sure we get rid of those germs you can't see. It is important to have clean hands before we eat, isn’t it?
One day a group of Pharisees noticed that some of Jesus’s disciples were eating without first washing their hands. They asked Jesus, "Why don’t your disciples follow our tradition? They eat without first following our hand-washing ceremony." Jesus responded to the people who questioned him, but his answer was not what they wanted to hear.
Jesus knew the hearts of the people who were complaining about his disciples’ unwashed hands. He answered them by saying, "You hypocrites! You are the people the prophet Isaiah wrote about when he said, 'You ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.'"
Jesus wasn’t saying that washing our hands is not important. He was saying that the Pharisees thought that clean hands were more important than a clean heart. They were more concerned with following the traditions of men than they were with following the Word of God.
Jesus called the crowd to gather around and listen to what he had to say. "All of you listen. It's not what goes into your body that makes you unclean, it is the bad words that come out of your mouth. Out of your hearts come evil thoughts, greed, cheating, and envy. This is what makes you unclean."
Heavenly Father, we know that it is important to have clean hands, but even more important to have a clean heart. Create in us a clean heart so that all that we say and do will honor you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.