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AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?   Mark 7   Pastor Larry Boatright     (2nd Service)

{Manuscript—View video for complete content.}  Ladies, I have something I need to tell those of you who are currently in a relationship or hope to be in a relationship with a handsome fella. It might be hard to hear, but I need you to hear it:  MEN ARE GROSS SOMETIMES!!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been eating at a restaurant and need to go to the restroom.  So I go in and do my business, and then wash my hands.

And I can’t tell you how many times someone was in the urinal next to me, and while I washed my hands,  they finished their business, flushed, walked towards the sink, and walked right passed it, and grabbed the door handle and went back to their table.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been washing my hands when I hear a toilet flush, the stall door opens—and you know what happens in the stall—and I see a man walk out of the stall toward the sink, only to walk right passed it, and go to the door and HEAD BACK TO THE TABLE!!!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to follow him out of the restroom to his table and tell his lady, “HE DIDN’T WASH HIS HANDS!!” I mean, you deserve to know, right??  I was telling a friend about this the other day, and she said, “It’s not just guys, plenty of women do that too.”

Now let me ask you a question: does not washing your hands after using the restroom and then eating somehow make you a bad person unworthy of God’s love?  It might make you sick, but Jesus definitely still loves you… although I’m sure he would be a big fan of you washing your hands before you eat!  Turn in your Bibles to Mark 7.   Today we’re going to see a story where a group of people have a huge amount of rules they follow in order to keep themselves acceptable and pure before God, including rules around hand washing and dinner, and, in the process, they miss God completely.  If we’re honest, all of us have taken on certain practices and rules and behaviors to feel like we measure up.  If we’re really honest, chances are those things don’t make us feel closer to God at all, in fact, often, they leave us empty and exhausted.

We’ve been in a series called And Then What Happened?  We’ve been going a chapter or so at a time through the Gospel of Mark, studying the life of Jesus.  Our hope has been to learn more about: Who Jesus is, what Jesus does, and what Jesus invites us into.  Really, we want to see how Jesus shows us the heart of God by His teaching, His character and His actions, and we want to let that inform how we think and act as we seek to live in His way, with His heart.

In this series, we’ve seen a lot of pretty incredible things so far.  Jesus has healed lots of people of all kinds of things.  He’s cast out impure spirits/demons. He’s frequently challenged the religious establishment.  He calls His disciples and trains them as they journeyed together.  In Mark 6, we see that Jesus feeds the multitudes.  Jesus travels all over, preaching the good news, including going to places good religious folk would never go.

And so, as Jesus travels, he’s teaching and healing and casting out impure spirits, and large crowds begin to form.  By the time we get to Mark 7, Jesus is a bit like a modern day celebrity, in that he drew a crowd everywhere he went and he struggled to get away for some peace and quiet.  His reputation precedes him.  People hear about him, they see him, they see what he does, and by the end of Mark 6, people were so convinced he was a healer that they were bringing their friends to him.  They didn’t even have the expectation that he must ‘say something’ to heal, they thought, “If we could just take our friend to him and touch his garment, we’ll be healed.”  That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?

The bottom line is that we see Him bringing God’s goodness everywhere He went.  As Jesus’ popularity with the common people increased and crowds grew, the Pharisees and teachers of the law became increasingly agitated and confronted Him regularly.  And as we’ve seen earlier in the book of Mark, there’s a pattern here where the Pharisees confront Jesus because He or His disciples didn’t behave in a way they deemed appropriate.  He didn’t interpret the law the way that they did.  And Jesus, instead of being intimidated by that, leverages it as an opportunity to teach the proper way to think about subject X.  He also demonstrates God’s heart for the people.  He didn’t just talk about God’s heart, he didn’t just quote Scriptures, he didn’t just give rules and regulations, He demonstrated the heart of God.

Mark 7 starts with Pharisees and teachers of the law coming down from Jerusalem to once again observe Jesus, looking for faults.  I’m imagining they went into the restroom to wash, and they noticed Jesus’ disciples using the bathroom and not washing their hands, and then returning to the table.  And unlike me, who never followed someone to the table, they went to the table of Jesus and essentially said, “Why don’t your disciples follow the rules we have established instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”  See, the law dictated that priests must follow a very specific set of rules to come before God and be considered clean and pure.  As you might know, God had tasked Israel with being a light in the world, and tasked them with representing God well as a pure and holy nation. As you might also know, Israel had a rather checkered past, and frequently drifted from God’s best for them.  And so a few centuries before this encounter with Jesus, a group of religious leaders thought, “If doing all of these rules made the priests pure and holy before God, why don’t we have everyone follow all of these rules so we can ensure the nation is pure and holy before God!”  In addition, they came up with hundreds of other rules that would help them to do what God asked them to do.  Listen, in some ways, I can understand that—let’s put guardrails in place, parameters to ensure we walk in a way worthy of being called God’s own.  It’s like having a rule that says, “Thou shalt not lust after a woman.”  A good rule, indeed, but then adding ten other rules about how to walk and what angle your eyes should be, and then adding rules to women about how they should dress and so on and so forth, in order to prevent you from breaking God’s law.

You can see a clear picture of this even today by going to some parts of the Middle East.  And if you’ve ever been a part of a legalistic tradition, you know all of the additional rules can be impossible to keep up with, and can actually keep you from connecting with the God you so desperately want to and need to connect with.

So the Pharisees challenge Jesus about His disciples, not because of the disciples’ hygiene, but because the disciples didn’t ceremoniously wash their hands.  They didn’t follow the man-made rules in the way the Pharisees deemed acceptable.  Get the picture?  Let’s pick it up in v 6:  He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:  “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”    Ouch!  That would not be fun to hear, right?

He called them hypocrites.  They’re actors, mask-wearers.  They put on the illusion of having it all-together, doing all the right things.  We see stories in the Scriptures of people standing on the street corners and loudly praying and giving their money as a tithe and all these sorts of things to externally look really good.  Maybe some of them legitimately thought the things that were doing caused them to be pure.  But Jesus said that their hearts were far from Him.  He said their worship was in vain and their teaching was merely human rules.  I can only imagine how much that must have agitated the Pharisees and teachers of the law!

Jesus goes on to give an example of how they would claim money they should give to their parents they actually intended to give to God, so they wouldn’t have to take care of their parents, and justify it as if it were God’s law.  Jesus reminded them of the command to honor your father and mother.  He said, “You created these rules as a way to get out of following the words of God himself.”  Why was Jesus so worked up about this?  I want you to pay close attention, because I think you can be so focused on following rules and regulations that make you appear to be pure before God and completely miss having a real relationship with God.  That’s kind of scary. But you can do all the right things—you can go to church all the time, you can go to all the Bible studies, you can pray the prayers and do all that stuff.  It reminds of the Scriptures where people said, “Lord, we cast out demons in your name.  We healed in your name.”  And Jesus said that’s really nice and all, but we never hung out.  I didn’t even know you.  The thing is, living in a system like that ALWAYS puts yourself and sometimes others in bondage and dehumanizes people, but worst of all, completely misses the HEART of GOD.

I know so many people who have focused on sin avoidance in their lives.  They’re like I don’t have a problem with X so I’m going to do everything I can to walk away from that.  Their lives are a series of don’ts—I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to do this.   I’ve said this before: Don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t hang out with those who do.  Then it’s a life that’s a slave to what not to do.  It’s one thing to say all the right things, to do all the right things, to do your best to live in the way of Jesus, but as Rodney Pennington pointed out so helpfully a few months ago, you can do all these things to emulate living in the way of Jesus, but you can’t fake living with the heart of Jesus.

The Pharisees taught a faith of rules and regulations—you just do this and measure up, you do this and stay pure—and so they confronted Jesus about why His disciples didn’t live by all of those rules.  And so, Jesus called them out on it and reframed the message for the crowd and then his disciples in a way that shaped an understanding of rules that surrendered to a relationship with the Savior.  See, the Pharisees wanted a faith that was clean, that avoided dirt and being associated with the wrong kind of people, so they avoided people, they avoided going to places where people they considered dirty were, they weren’t willing to get dirty in order to help people have a relationship with God.  And so, in their system, God’s heart for human contact was completely lost.  I think it’s important that we know that in God’s economy, relationship is greater than rules.  The Scriptures point us to a relationship with God, but when we add all these peripheral things to it, rules become more important than relationship.

The Pharisees believed that external things defiled them—that is, kept them from being pure before God—so they engaged in a religious system that focused on avoidance.  But Jesus flipped that thinking on its head.  Look at v 14:  Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

This was completely against what the Pharisees taught with all of their extra rules.  They thought if they just avoided coming into contact with unclean things, they would remain clean.  But Jesus said no, no, no. You have all of these rules and avoid all of these things, but your HEARTS are unclean—dead as a doornail.  At one point, he called them whitewashed tombs—you look good on the outside but the inside still smells like death.  He said it was what comes out of the heart that makes someone defiled.

Verse 20 — He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. {Then he gives a list of what defiles us.  The external things that are happening as a result of a corrupt heart.} For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”  Imagine living a life filled with rules trying to appear as good, pure people, and then this man gives this list of things (things the Pharisees would have wanted to avoid), and points out the fact that they come from the HEART—the core of a person, the inside, the seat of emotions, NOT from external things.  Now I know what you’re thinking, “Can’t external things impact your heart? The way you think?”  Absolutely. Some of us are so focused though on AVOIDING what we let in that we strip our lives of real human interaction, of meeting people where they are in fear others will corrupt us. Here’s what I want us to know: A corrupt heart is a heart that isn’t fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus. I’m not talking there’s a gun to your head, you must surrender.  I’m talking about understanding who Jesus is and what he does and what he invites us to prompts a surrender.  It’s not a ‘you must surrender,’ although we should, it’s because of who Jesus is and because of what he does….    Surrender is an inevitable by-product of following whole-heartedly after Jesus.

Years ago in my early 20s, I was a good little Baptist boy and was doing lots of things trying to put my name out for the kingdom.  The thing is I was in a system that gave us a lot of rules.  I was very convicted about that because I constantly heard sermons about what not to do.  I thought, “You can’t listen to secular music.  You can’t watch R-rated movies.  You can’t go to Disney.”   I had these secular CD’s I really liked, but I felt so convicted that I thought, “I MUST get rid of these things.”  I had this plan that my buddy and I were going to go down this country road and get rid of the devil—these secular CD’s that were going to defile me.  We threw the CD’s on the road and shattered them….not thinking about the fact that in my effort to run to Jesus, I was littering all over the countryside.   But, within a couple of weeks, I was going, “I really like Nirvana,” so I’d go to Walmart and buy the CD all over again.  And go through that cycle and litter again in an effort to purge my life.  Fast forward three or four years—I ended up going on staff at a church where this guy listened to secular music by pagans such as U2 and Cold Play and the Beatles.  He sometimes watched R-rated movies and every now and then he had a beer.   For me, good little Baptist boy trying to please the Lord, I’m going, “Holy cow, you can’t be doing that and walk with Jesus.”  What confounded my brain was that he seemed to love Jesus way more than I did.  He was deeply connected to the Spirit of God.  That was a big turning point in my life.  I thought, “This doesn’t compute because I’m doing all the rules and I don’t feel I’m connected to God, and here’s this person who’s doing these things I was told I was not allowed to do and he’s connecting with God deeply.”  He’s an amazing person.

Listen.  Hear me, I’m not advocating for you to go break all of the rules.  The Apostle Paul told us that although we CAN do lots of things, it doesn’t mean we SHOULD.  Remember, the Isaiah passage Jesus quotes said the people did all of the right things, but their hearts were far from God.  Jesus is showing us by his words that we can play the part, we can go through the motions, but our hearts absolutely can be far from God.  This is the contrast we see between Jesus and the Pharisees.  I love that we see in the beginning of the chapter who Jesus is and what he does and so much about the heart of God.  I would be shocked if when we took an honest look at our lives, that most of us in here didn’t fall victim to that other way of thinking at some point in our life.

The list of things he gave that came out of a defiled heart, I would guess that most of us could spot one, two or three things on that list that come up on a regular basis.  If so, consider that maybe, just maybe, you have a heart that’s not fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus.  That’s the whole issue… you can externally look good, but still have a heart that is far from God.

How do we make sure we have a heart that is fully surrendered to the heart of Jesus? I think Paul, in Galatians 5, kind of gives the answer.  Paul’s a theological rockstar and in verse 16 of Galatians 5, he says:   So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.   The flesh seeks outward approval…seeks to look right, to say the right things.

And Paul gives a list of acts of the flesh—the corrupt heart—that look very similar to the list Jesus gave.  But Paul also goes on to say that if we’re led by the spirit, we’re not under the law.  And then he explains what it looks like to be clean from the inside out—to live a life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus.  Look at what He says in Galatians 5 starting in verse 22—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  There are laws against ‘don’t do this and don’t do this’ and there are man-made laws, but against THOSE things, there is no law.  It’s like eating your vegetables—eat as many as you can stand.  It’s not bad for you, do it.  Against love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, all of that, there is no law.   And in verse 25, Paul tells us to keep in step with the Spirit.  That’s how we have a heart that’s surrendered to Him, that’s fully His.  If we do that, the Spirit will produce that fruit.  If you’re asking yourself, “Am I connected to the Lord?” well, the question you probably should be asking is “Do I see the fruit of the Spirit in my life?”  If you don’t, there’s probably parts of your heart you have yet to surrender to the lordship of Jesus.

So the Pharisees contended that being unclean came from external things, but Jesus showed that a life of doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things apart from being connected to the Spirit of God is what defiled.

So Jesus confronted their thinking and corrected it, teaching about the heart of God, but as Jesus does time and time again, He then demonstrated what He was talking about.

Then the story shifts a bit; Jesus left and went north to get away, up to a place called Tyre, which was a city way up on the Mediterranean Sea coast.  I have to tell you what, after all the snow we’ve had, the Mediterranean Sea (or any kind of ocean with a beach) sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?  Here’s the thing….Tyre was well known as a pagan area, not a God-following area, and definitely an area Pharisees wouldn’t be caught in.  Why? You guessed it, because they didn’t want to become unclean by stepping on such ungodly soil.  I think it’s really interesting that Mark, after taking us through the first narrative in this chapter, has Jesus going right into a place that was unclean.  He goes into a house to get away, but he was known in that area.  He had been there before and healed lots of people and cast out impure spirits.  So a woman boldly comes to the house who was a gentile (Syrophoenician).   She so strongly believes Jesus can heal that she persists in asking him to cast an impure spirit out of her daughter (who’s not even there) and Jesus relents and does it.  What we’re learning here is that

Jesus shows us the heart of God.  He goes to an area most people wouldn’t go, and serves someone most people wouldn’t serve.  And as we see time and time again, He responds to the faith of this woman by restoring her daughter to wholeness.

But what I want to do with the rest of our time is to look at the last account in Mark 7, which I think is an absolutely beautiful contrast to the Pharisees and their way of thinking at the beginning of the chapter. And here, I think we see an incredible picture of the heart of God on display which really shows us what his teaching from earlier really means.  Verse 31 — Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.  I don’t want you to miss this….Jesus went to the Decapolis, the region of the ten cities southeast of Tyre.  Yet He took a really circuitous route to get there, because he went up to Sidon, which was on the coast another twenty miles or so north of Tyre, before He went down to the Decapolis?   Why did he take that route?  I don’t know.  He most definitely went through an area that the Pharisees believed was unclean, filled with Gentiles.   Maybe it was a foreshadowing of what Paul says is the mystery of the Gospel:  that the gentiles were also recipients of the Gospel and not just the Jews.  Jesus is going and healing people and bringing wholeness to people that the Pharisees thought were ‘out,’ us versus them.  In versus out.  Jesus is modeling that he’s for everyone.  To the point that this woman comes to him, who is gentile, and he uses this illustration about the dogs and the children.  But this woman says, “I understand that Israel is suppose to receive the gospel first and then the rest of us, but I tell you what, I’m okay just getting scraps, because at least the dogs under the table get to eat at the same time as the children do.”  She was relentless.  He marveled at her faith and he healed her daughter.

He goes up through Sidon and then southeastward  to the Sea of Galilee, and here is the most beautiful part of the chapter, in my eyes:  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.   The Pharisees had dead hearts, think about it.  God gave rules to help them stay pure.  They made up additional rules to help them stay pure.  God came in the flesh to them and didn’t abide by their rules.  They judged God harshly for not abiding by their rules.  Again, they were so focused on rules that they missed God Incarnate right in front of their eyes.  Yet these people in this area—the gentiles, unclean—had seen with their eyes and heard with their ears exactly what the Pharisees did, and yet they had faith.  If we can honestly take a look at who Jesus is and what He does, surrender of our hearts is easy because it’s a natural overflow of seeing Jesus for who He is.

Imagine having friends who loved you so much, or even were just people so full of faith that they would bring you to the feet of Jesus.  See, they so believed Jesus could heal, that they brought this man to Jesus. The man had become deaf, and he had a speech impediment so severe he couldn’t be understood.  Imagine what a low quality of life that man must have felt.  Imagine how people might have treated him.  Imagine being frowned at, yelled at, maybe hit, mistreated, a host of other things.  That man would have been labeled and blamed by the religious establishment—his sin, maybe his parent’s sin, had caused this.  The Pharisees would NEVER touch a man like this.  Yet the story becomes very intimate here, and we get such a marvelous glimpse of the heart of the Jesus we seek to be like.   After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.   

The man is pushed through the crowds, his friends are taking him to Jesus, but Jesus could have spoken a word and healed this man.   But no, no, no, no, something different happens, something incredible happens.  Do not miss this!  This is the heart of the story.   Notice, Jesus ‘took him aside.’  I would bet that man had been taken aside many times for being in the way, taunted, teased, etc.   Yet in a deeply personal demonstration of who Jesus is and therefore, who God is and what God is like, he takes the man aside.  This verse has gripped me for weeks.  Thank God we have a Savior who is deeply personal, who pulls us aside, who meets us in our infirmities, who isn’t just out there, and cold, and distant, and judging, and who, unlike the Pharisees, gets dirty on our behalf.  Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears.  He spit and touched the man’s tongue—spit on spit— deeply personal and intimate.  This was the epitome of doing something that, if you followed the Pharisee’s way of thinking, would make someone unclean.   But for Jesus, it was deeply, deeply personal.   For us as spectators, 2000 years later, it’s deeply, deeply beautiful.

Verse 34 — He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.  Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.  People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”    Jesus is in a gentile area, getting dirty, sharing spit, and I love how it says, “With a deep sigh.”  If you notice Jesus healing, quite often he expresses some kind of emotion.  It’s as if he is feeling the weight of the broken world we live in, feeling grief that his people are hurting so badly, so broken.

There were lots of so-called “magicians” who did all sorts of incantations in that area, made-up words to conjure up some kind of experience.  I believe Jesus demonstrated surrender to God here, but the transliteration of the word Ephphatha, a real word that means ‘be opened,’ wasn’t just made up words like the magicians.  I think this is Mark’s way of showing this was a real word uttered by a real God leading to a real healing.

No doubt, readers of Mark’s gospel would think of the words in Isaiah 35:3-5 —  Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, he will come to save you.”  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 
Hundreds of years before Jesus came, Isaiah shows us what the kingdom of God looks like.  He shows us Jesus’s divine agenda.  Then Jesus shows up on the scene and goes to the most unlikely of places and heals the most unlikely of persons, exactly as it says it Isaiah 35:5.  The crowd seemed very surprised and delighted that Jesus healed him. This is such a beautiful  picture of the heart of God. Jesus pulled him aside—out of the crowd.  He could have just spoke a word or they could have just touched his garment.  No, Jesus got down and dirty with this guy.  He touched him, he spit, he shared saliva.  Touch was so important because the man couldn’t hear words of healing.  His friends brought him to the Savior and Jesus went beyond words to touch and beyond that to deeply personal, deep intimacy in sharing his saliva.

In Mark 7 we see this crazy contrast where the first part is the Pharisees with their rules and regulations, trying to help them look pure, to appear to be righteous.  I’ve been thinking of words that describe the encounter with the Pharisees:  Rules.  Regulations.  Oppression.  Stress.  Emptiness.  Bondage.  Corrupt Hearts.  I don’t know about you, but I feel stressed just looking at those words.  That’s the way of man-made rules and regulations.  That does not reflect the heart of the Father.  But I’ve also spent time thinking of words that describe Jesus’ encounter with this man.  So, the way of the Pharisees and the way of Jesus.  Ear.  Tongue.  Dirt.  Spit. Touch. Intimacy.  Compassion.  Freedom.  Look at those words.  They’re very earthy, aren’t they?  They’re very human.  They’re very relational.  Remember, earlier I said relationship is greater than rules, and Jesus modeled this so incredibly well.  I guess the question I would ask is which set of words more closely resonates with the type of king and God that you want to serve?

I’d like you to listen to me….if you’re here this morning and you believe that you’re unlovable, that what you’ve done keeps God at bay, that you’re not worthy of the love and affection of Jesus, you need to know that Jesus, just like he did in going to Tyre and Sidon and down to the Decapolis, goes out of his way to meet you. He is ready and willing to forgive you, to meet with you, and so much more.  If you’re here this morning and you’re trapped in trying to do all kinds of things to “measure up” and you realize your heart isn’t with Him.  Maybe you’ve gone through all the motions, but you realize your heart isn’t fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus.

You just need to know that you can simply run to the heart of the Father and let go of those things, and just have a real relationship with the One who spoke all things into existence.

You might be here this morning and you have a friend or a spouse or a family member that desperately needs an encounter with Jesus.  Maybe their heart is hardened, maybe their heart is broken, maybe they’ve given up asking Jesus to bring them freedom.  The Scriptures over and over honor the faith of those who bring their friends to Christ.  I just want to say whether that’s your spouse or friend or family member, DO NOT GIVE UP!!  I plead with you!  Continue to bring them to the feet of Jesus, and like that Syrophoenician woman, go to the arms of God and say, “I beg you for the table scraps on behalf of my friend!”  DON’T GIVE UP.

And finally, you might be here this morning and desperately need Jesus to heal you and set you free.  Jesus still heals today.  This isn’t just some account we read in lifeless pages made from wood.  This is the story of the Living God intersecting with humanity and He still intersects with humanity TODAY!  You might be here and you need to be set free, whether it’s something physical, or it’s a broken marriage or a relationship, or patterns of thinking you can’t seem to get free from, or you can’t seem to walk away from emotional bondage.  I want you to know that myself and our elders would count it all joy to pray that Jesus would meet you in your brokenness and ask Him to free you and heal you.  I don’t know how he chooses to do that.  Sometimes it’s instant and miraculous, or through the work of a doctor or a therapist, or whatever His good plan is.

The last thing we see in Mark 7 is that the people marveled at what they saw and said, “He does all things well.”

The Pharisees judged things that people didn’t do well. They tried to do things well, according to their tradition, but their heart was not in step with the Spirit.  But rest assured, Jesus does all things well.  Listen, Jesus does all things well. He shows us what God is like well.  He goes beyond man-made boundaries and expectations to come to us.  He pulls us aside and meets us where we are. He shows us exactly what He wants His Kingdom to look like.  People moving back to wholeness.  Relationships being moved back to wholeness, and ultimately, all of creation achieving shalom.  And humans living out the fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  That is the way of Jesus and Jesus gets what He wants.

And I have no doubt that He is here, He is in charge, that this kingdom is breaking forth in this room, in this moment, and in this city that God has strategically placed us in, and around the world.  In all of creation the kingdom of God is breaking forth.  We get to be on board for the ride.

So my question is this:  What is Jesus asking you for?  Your money? Your Time? Your attention? Maybe.

But most importantly, He wants your heart, fully surrendered to Him.  All that other stuff will come.  Listen, surrender isn’t forcing you to do this thing, it’s a response to who Jesus is and what He does.  So remember,

it’s out of the heart that we connect with God, and it’s out of the heart in step with the Spirit that leads to transformation.

As we sing, would you bow your hearts before God, ask the Spirit of God to show you if any part of your heart isn’t fully surrendered to Jesus, and give it over to Jesus?