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3-Sep-06

3-Sep-06

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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Apr 28, 2008
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How Far Would You Go?
Joseph WinstonSeptember 3, 2006
1 Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
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1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come fromJerusalem gathered around him, 2 they saw that some of his disciples wereeating loaves of bread with unclean, that is unwashed, hands. 3 For the Phariseesand all of the Jews do not eat unless they wash their fists, as a way of holding on tothe tradition of the elders. 4 Returning from the marketplace, they do not eat un-less they baptize (wash) and they hold on to much more. The baptize (dip in water)their drinking cups, their measuring bowls, their copper bowls. 5 So the Phariseesand the Scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples do not follow the handed downtransitions of the elders but eat the bread with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them,“Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ’This people hon-ors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ 7 in vain do they worshipme, teaching human precepts as doctrines. 8 By letting go of God’s command, youtake hold of the human tradition. ” 14 Then he called the crowd again and said to1
 
them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a per-son that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. 21 Forit is within, out of the human heart, that bad thoughts come from: pornographies,thefts, murders 22 adulteries, extortions, malicious acts, deceit, indecency, envy,blasphemy, arrogance, and folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, andthey defile a person.”
Sermon
Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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During a lecture on this Gospel Lesson in 1953, Dr. Ernst K¨asemann (July 12,1906 - February 14, 1998), a noted New Testament scholar, Lutheran pastor, anda member of the resistance against the Nazis who was arrested multiple times bythe Gestapo, stated that anyone who denies that external forces influence a per-son is actually attacking both the underlying assumptions and the clear meaningof the Old Testament.
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Dr. K¨asemann’s insight revolves around the action thatJesus takes in today’s reading. Instead of condemning the disciples’ who ate thebread without first washing their hands, Jesus tells us that what comes from insidesomeone is what makes a person either clean or unclean.As Christians, we normally do not think of the far-reaching results of Christ’sdeclaration. We eat what we want. We have our bacon, lettuce, and tomato sand-
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Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3
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wiches for lunch without worrying about the pork that we are consuming. Weenjoy cheeseburgers, a delicacy that an observant Jew would never have. On thecoast, we do not limit our consumption of seafood to those animals that have finsand scales. We have fried and boiled shrimp. We do not have to concern ourselveswith what food we can or cannot eat because Jesus has explicitly declared thatevery item of food may be consumed without concern for one’s ritual cleanliness.In making this sweeping statement about the true source of purity, Jesus has im-plicitly invalidated a portion of God’s Law found in the Old Testament.For the author of the Gospel according to St. Mark, the reason why Jesusannuls the Law is exceedingly clear. God came to save both Jews and Gentiles.
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All barriers that keep any man, woman, or child away from God must be removed.This even includes the Law because it has kept salvation away from some people.
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In this Gospel Lesson, we hear God’s answer to the question of “How far does onego to save another?” Jesus replies all of the way.The question of how far would you go to save someone is not a new question.In 1966, Sh¯usaku End¯o (March 27, 1923 - September 29, 1996) wrote a book  titled
Silence
, which is a fictional reenactment of an actual historical event.On the surface, End¯o’s book is story about early Christianity in Japan. In 1549,three Jesuit priests landed in Japan. The people and the Japanese government wel-comed these missionaries and other Christians into the country. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and these men, over 300,000 Japanese became Christians. How-
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