“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.” – Mark 10:18
By studying Jesus we learn what it means to be Christian. After all, Webster’s dictionary defines Christian as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” So how can we be Christian if we don’t know what Jesus taught?
The book of Mark gives us a good look at who Jesus is. Remember, Mark (Peter’s good friend) wrote his gospel to the Romans, a non-Jewish audience, so they would remember Jesus and stay true to the faith. So, the book of Mark is filled with instances of Jesus teaching, sharing and doing miracles. As you read the passage of Mark 7, you may be surprised to see what Jesus thinks about “good” people. The passage shows us a bit of Jesus’ humanity along with the wisdom of his divine nature. Let’s examine it:
In the first part of Mark 7 (v. 1-23) Jesus faces off with the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees criticize the disciples for not washing their hands before they eat. They had a lot of ceremonial washings. They were all about “cleanliness.” Jesus calls them “hypocrites” and tells them that they are more focused on their own traditions (like cleansing their hands) than on God’s law. Essentially, Jesus tell them off. He goes on to tell them that they need to wash their hearts. He teaches us that cleaning on the outside doesn’t make us good. It’s what’s inside of us that needs to be cleaned.
I suppose the Pharisees got on his nerves so bad that later in Mark 7:24-29 when Jesus meets a gentile (non-Jewish) woman, he refers to her people as “dogs.” When she replies to him that even dogs get crumbs, He is impressed with her answer and heals her daughter. What Jesus meant in this passage was that he was trying to get the Jews straight first, then he would handle the non-Jewish people. He was not trying to insult her, but he did not feel like dealing with her at the time. I feel him on this one.
Remember Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. Sometimes we know the right thing to do and don’t feel like doing it. WWJD? Do it anyway.
Mark 7:31-36 is one of my favorite characteristics of Jesus. He wasn’t a show-off. Jesus was here to shine a light, not seek the spotlight. In this passage, Jesus heals a deaf man. He heals the man and then tells him not to tell anyone. Ha! After not being able to hear and speak for such a long time, you know that man “spread the news.” Of course! Who could keep quiet about that? The miracles of Jesus were not boasted by Him. It was “word of mouth” that Jesus became known. He didn’t need a PR agent. Sometimes we feel really good about the work we do. And we should because it is the joy of living on purpose. But WWJD? You have to read your Bible to know.