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Jesus Goes to the Heart of the Problem" (Mark 7:14-23) Pentecost 14B!"

September 2, 2012

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Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost        Trinity Lutheran Church

2 September 2012                                Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

Mark 7:14-23

 

Fried foods.  White bread.  White sugar. Creamy salad dressing.  T-bone steaks.  Prime rib.  Double cheeseburgers.  Ham sandwiches.  Lobster.  Beer.  Wine.  Coffee.  Coke.  Marlboros.  Cubans. 

 

Is it a sin to eat red meat?  Ham?  Crawfish?  Is it a sin to drink a Budweiser or a Blue Moon?  Is it sinful to enjoy a cup or two of coffee in the morning?  Or smoke a big Churchill cigar?  Or let me ask the question this way:  Does a rare to medium rare rib eye steak, a ham and Swiss sandwich, or a cigarette defile you – pollute you — so that you can’t stand before God?  Lots of religious people say, “YES!” 

 

Or let me put it another way:  does abstaining from all these foods, drinks, or leafy products – make you clean — improve your standing before the almighty?  Get you closer to the kingdom?  Or bring the kingdom to you?  Many people categorically declare, “YES!”  In Jesus’ day they were the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  Today, there is still Kingdom of God food and drink regulation people!  Food and Drink Police!

 

However, the modern day god of the food and drink police is an idol! A make believe god!  A self-invented deity!  Its name?  Well, it is just like Valdemort – a “he who must not be named!” – kind of idol!  But I will name it!  I call this idol:  The Elite Community of Central Planners!  ECCP for short!  And this idol is a beast!    

 

This tyrannical fascist-like beastie parades around with all sorts of power and pomp!  Bearing its fangs!  Extending its claws!  Showing off its horns!  The beast promises utopia!  Shangrila!  A new age!  A paradise!  Or to use the language we understand:  the kingdom of heaven on earth! 

 

Therefore, this beast tolerates no false worship!  This beast demands total submission.  Complete obedience!  Noncompliance rains down the beast’s swift and merciless wrath!   

 

Check out the list.  See what’s been banned.  Stay away from the blacklisted products and you are working on your purity – as a faithful worshipper of the beast.  As pure as you can be!  Getting purer and purer!  Working hard at it!  Obedient and faithful to the beast!  Clean, pure and unpolluted! 

 

So be careful what you eat or drink. The Elite Community of Central Planners – the beast, is a most jealous deity!  It is an idol of the highest order in our country!  Its male and female mouthpieces have spoken and they will continue to speak infallibly. 

 

Have you heard them?  Egg McMuffins are not to be eaten by Olympic gymnasts!  That “sets the religion back and gives people the wrong impression that the beast tolerates false worshippers!” if I may paraphrase one puppet!  Happy Meals have been outlawed in San Francisco!  His eminence Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned sugary drinks from NYC restaurants, theaters, stadiums and streetcars!  Especially the supersized ones!  Verboten!  No exceptions!  Theater Popcorn is next on the list according to Dr. Bruce Vladeck, a member of NYC’s Board of Health.  Some juices, coffee drinks and milkshakes are not far behind because of the monstrosity of calories in them.

  

Put the banned products in your mouth and you’re . . . well you’re impure.  Defiled.  Polluted.  A false worshipper!  A pagan!  Fines will be administered!  Jail time is a definite possibility!  Utopia cannot be established as long as there are rebels or unrepentant eaters and drinkers of the contraband!

 

So make darn sure you perfectly keep the beast’s regulations!  Look carefully and relentlessly obey the first commandment of the beast’s fine print!  What you can put into your mouth!  What you can’t!  Utopia, paradise, Shangrila – the kingdom of heaven on the earth – depends upon your 24/7/365 total compliance (worship) of the beast!

 

But then another preacher shows up.  Lo and behold – He’s the one true God in the flesh!  Jesus.  He is not the beast but He is the “Lamb looking as if it had been slain,” (Revelation 5:6)!   He will have none of this!  “Listen to me and not the beast,” He proclaims!  And that’s precisely what we’re supposed to do.  The Father’s voice at the Mount of Transfiguration:  “This is My Son.  I love Him.  Listen to Him!”    

 

Preacher God Jesus declares:  “Listen to me everyone and understand this:  The ECCP is a deceptive little beastie!  A wolf in sheep’s clothing!  Its religion is a total sham!  Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.  Instead, it’s what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’” 

 

Do you get it?  Do you understand?  The disciples didn’t.  Don’t have a clue.  Maybe you don’t either.  So the one true God in the flesh Jesus spells it out again.   “Are you so dull?  Haven’t you heard anything I’ve been saying?  Or paying attention to anything I’ve done?  Don’t you see that all the beastie’s food and drink rules have nothing to do with establishing a utopian paradise on the earth!  Food and drink go into the stomach and then the body disposes of it.  As far as I am concerned that’s not what defiles or pollutes you.”   

 

“Really Jesus?  Theater popcorn, a Wendy’s double baconator and a Starbuck’s caramel macchiato won’t endanger my relationship with you?  Letting my children have a Happy Meal won’t bring down the wrath of God on me?” 

 

“Of course not!  Good grief!  None of that food or drink makes you unclean with me!”

 

Then what does?  What is it, Jesus, that makes a person “unclean” before God?  What is it that defiles a person so that it separates him from God?  

 

Jesus has a surprising answer.  It’s your heart!  That’s the problem!  A heart problem!  A deep, deep heart problem!  Listen:    “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”  All this sin –– comes from the heart – yours and mine.  It separates you and me from God.

 

Jesus throws out all the food and drink regulations! For having a salvation, that is!    

 

You can choose not to eat certain foods, light up, or imbibe certain liquids for dietary or other health issues.  Perhaps your doctor has advised accordingly.  The governing authorities have outlawed or regulate certain products that people put into their mouths to smoke, noses to sniff or veins to inject.  Or it may just be that you’re a recovering addict so you need to stay away from certain beverages or substances.  Jesus doesn’t have a problem with that.

 

What troubles preacher Jesus is this:  that people would trust in false gods!  Worshipping the beastie who I have named The Elite Community of Central Planners with its promise of utopia by religiously keeping all its food and drink commandments!  That’s idolatry.  Even though its religion is extremely pious and nationalistic! 

 

The sinful heart is what defiles you before God.  Your rotten heart pollutes you and separates you from Him.  From the heart comes sin.  “All these evils come from inside and make you unclean,” Jesus declares.  What evils?  “Evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  That all flows from the heart!  Your heart!  My heart!  Our wicked, sinful heart is the problem.  The eternal life or death problem!

 

Keeping certain foods or drinks out of your mouth won’t save you.  But a preacher does.  His name:  Jesus.  He is the Savior!  The Savior of idolatrous sinners!  Whose hearts are very, very, very unclean!  Impure.  That put their trust in little beasties like the ECCP instead of Jesus!     

 

So He goes and does a Good Friday.  For you.  The ungodly!  He takes all your sin that flows from an unclean sin-clogged heart and answers for it.  Dies with it!  Gets damned with it!  Forgives it.  Doesn’t hold it against you.  Because it all belongs to Him!  He is the slain Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  With His bloody forgiveness put in your ears and heart you are restored to God.  Purified.  Cleansed.   

 

When the Father looks at you He sees you covered in the blood of His Son Savior Jesus.  The Good Friday blood of Jesus washed your heart clean in Holy Baptism. 

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares this about your Baptism in Christ:  “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” 

 

In addition, you are clothed with Christ’s righteousness and buried into His Calvary death through Baptism.  And today His promise of forgiveness, life and salvation are yours as you eat unleavened bread and drink the wine with your mouth and believe in your heart that it is His Body and His Blood as He Himself declares.  Creating in you “a clean or pure heart” in the way of Psalm 51 – faith!  Faith in Jesus and His promise of forgiveness! 

 

“Listen to me and understand this everyone,” Jesus announces. “Salvation is found ONLY in me not in the food and drink regulations of the beast!  Paradise does come!  In, with and under me!  Today — as I give you My Body and My Blood in the Sacrament that cleanses you from all sin!  So take heart and be of good cheer!  All the evil that flows from your heart is forgiven!  You are clean because of these words of forgiveness that I have declared to you.” 

 

In the Name of Jesus.

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