The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
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 defiled hands?”
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.”
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
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.”
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 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.”
Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job is one of those books in which the depth of the Bible is apparent. Really from the beginning with the climax at the end. In between we have Job’s complaints, and testy exchanges between he and his friends. It has often been said the theme of Job is why the righteous suffer, but that really doesn’t ring true since no answer is given. The book seems more to do with humility given God’s revelation, what theologians call both general and special.
When God at last breaks in God talks much about creation. Things observable in themselves, which elicit wonder and awe. Deb and I have been watching documentaries on planets within our solar system, and recent discoveries from our space probes. And it is remarkable.
God makes the point that if Job can’t really begin to understand God’s works in creation, then how can he imagine that he has God figured out when it comes to any of his works. Yes, in Job’s life. Job went through what we could liken to a terrible storm, even nightmare, and was in the midst of that during his complaining to God and his friends, and arguing back and forth was awakening and stirring Job’s faith. Wrestling with doubt is a good thing; simply casting it aside for easy answers is not. In scripture faith is likened to a mustard seed, which can grow and be strengthened, or be neglected and even die. And faith is strengthened through the storms of real life, not in theory on paper.
Job’s response quoted above is instructive to us. It is not just about his lack in knowing, but his need to get not just a sense of God, but receive the revelation of God into his life. In so doing, he responded with dust and ashes, saying that he needed to say no more, indeed that his words had been bereft of the knowing now given to him.
Job was surely never the same. He had some measure of this before, but going through the trial of losing family than his health (and wealth) he had come to the place where he could possibly receive much more. And he did in a way that opened his eyes like never before.
So through the troubles and crucible of life, let’s learn from this story, looking for God in the midst of it all, trusting in God even when life makes little or no sense to us. In and through Jesus.
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out,because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
These words of Jesus were interrupted by the incessant swell of humanity demanding attention. There’s at least one other place where Jesus wanted solitude and rest, but was likewise interrupted (Mark 7:24). Good reminders to us that though we may attempt to relax and get some rest, we may not always be able to.
But the point remains: Jesus did value solitude, quiet and rest. In their case it was an escape from what surely was an exhausting ministry, even if to Jesus such was invigorating (John 4). Still even he in his humanity needed rest and quiet time with his disciples, and especially with his Father.
As I get older I’m finding it naturally easier to rest and not think I have to be doing something. Oftentimes the best thing we can do is simply nothing. Be in God’s presence, in quiet so as to hear God’s gentle whisper. But simply resting. Knowing it’s God’s work, as well as his will that matter. We receive and participate in that. And rest in him. In and through Jesus.