Sermon on Mark Chapter 7 used for family service 3 September 2006
by The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman
Most of us like cake. My favourite is apple cake.
What goes into making a cake like an apple cake?
Apples for a start (3 crisp, peeled apples), but you also need flour (150g), butter or margarine (100g), sugar (75g), raisins, (50g), and some eggs (2). Mix them together, put in a cake tin and bake in an oven (180 degrees) for about an hour or so.
Follow the simple rules and it’s difficult to go wrong. Don’t follow the rules (or the recipe) and you end up with a mess!
In the Old Testament Reading Moses talks about following the simple rules that God had given the Israelites through Moses
He says that they should follow the law and not add or subtract from it. That way they will inherit the land and not end up in a mess
In the Gospel reading Jesus is also talking about following rules and regulations.
He says that the Pharisees have done exactly what Moses told them not to do – they’ve made their own additions to the law which end up detracting from the law and making it difficult for people to follow
If they were making a cake its as if they don’t just have ‘wash you hands’ as an instruction but, ‘wash your hands three times up to the elbow and beyond’, before you start. Not just peel the apples, but peel the apples with your right hand whilst holding the apples over a bin!
What made Jesus cross was that they had missed the point of the law/rules which was to enable them to have a relationship with God.
As it happens the Pharisees were applying to themselves and trying to apply to others laws hat were originally just given for the Priests at they entered the temple. In the strict Torah sense, the laws about washing didn’t even apply to them.
Jesus said that its not that rules don’t matter, we do need rules and laws in our society, but that rules are not an end in themselves and that they shouldn’t take the place of a relationship with God
They especially shouldn’t be used as an excuse to weasel out of normal commitments
Jesus was particularly angry that the Pharisees were declaring everything they did and had was sacred (Korban) so it didn’t matter if they did not look after elderly parents because what they did with their resources was holy
Sometimes we forget that the most important thing in our lives is not the rules and regulations of our church or everyday life but our relationship with God through Jesus who died on the cross for each one of us, and our relationship with other people so that they can see the love of God in our lives.
In the bible, a story of God’s relationship with the people on earth, we have revealed not just the laws of the Old Testament but a description of the fulfilment of all those laws through Jesus and guidelines of how to live our Christian lives through a relationship with Him and through Him, a relationship with God, both now and in the future
A relationship that continually transforms our lives day by day and on into eternity
A kind of ‘pie in the sky when you die’ and ‘cake on the plate while you wait’.