Don’t you just love it when you keep doing the same wrong thing over and over again? Yeah, I don’t. What’s even worse? When the same person points it out every time: A parent asks, “Why is your room always such a mess;” A spouse declares, “You know, you lose your keys a lot;” Or your boss drops this one, “You realize, you’ve forgotten that report every month for the last quarter.” There’s a special combination of embarrassment, frustration, and hurt that strikes hard and fast.
Because I’ve been there, I can’t help but feel for the Pharisees in Mark 7:1-23. As scripture experts, they know all too well what they’ve gotten wrong throughout the generations. Time and again, God gets frustrated with the people because they can’t remember that God’s number one priority is caring for the vulnerable. They pride themselves on getting worship ‘right’ but forget their commitment to love and serve the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. But in Mark 7, here comes this upstart Jesus, once again throwing the prophet Isaiah in their face. He points out to them the same old thing: “You’re not loving God and loving your neighbor again, guys.” I can just imagine how much they seethed. I would, too.
I can’t count how many times I’ve operated with my own set of priorities and have forgotten entirely God’s priorities – how many times I live out my own idea of faithfulness and forget the simple yet confoundingly difficult call to love God and love my neighbor.
This Sunday, Jesus will say it again. Love God and love your neighbor. It might sting a little, but consider the source. Alongside the call are forgiveness, love and life everlasting. Let’s hear him out. Amen?
See you Sunday…