Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem,2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider
1. Examine verses 2-5. What was the basis for the scribes’ and Pharisees’ criticism of the disciples’ unwashed hands? Hygiene, or another issue? Who is the audience for the book of Mark (hint: scroll back up to the title picture if you can’t remember)? Why would it have been important for Mark to include the parenthetical explanation of verses 3-4 for his audience? According to verse 3, who originated the hand washing rule- Scripture?
2. How many times is the word “tradition(s)” used in verses 1-13? Is Jesus saying all traditions are bad, even traditions at church? Summarize Jesus’ main point (6-9) in your own words. Have you ever observed a church placing a particular tradition ahead of God’s word? How would this passage have applied to that situation?
3. Have you ever been called a “Pharisee” or “legalistic” for standing for the truth of, and obedience to, Scripture? Verses 1-13 crystallize Jesus’ main point of contention with the Pharisees. Was He accusing them of holding too closely to Scripture and insisting God’s word be obeyed? What was He rebuking them for? Is it accurate to call someone who stands firmly on God’s word a Pharisee? What about someone who creates his own man-made doctrine, opinions, or beliefs and holds them in higher regard than God’s written Word? (7) What does it look like today for a person or a church to honor God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him? (6)
4. At the end of verse 13, Jesus says, “And many such things you do.” What are some other traditions of the Pharisees we’ve seen in previous lessons that they held above God’s word? Why is it so important to Jesus that we obey His written Word rather than doctrines created by men?
5. Read verse 15 through the lens of a first century Jew. Think about all the dietary laws and all the things they could not touch or come in contact with because they would be made unclean. List any of those commands you can remember. Is it any wonder the disciples were confused? How might this have been an easier teaching for Mark’s Gentile audience to understand and accept?
6. If you’ve ever discussed the issue of homosexuality with an unbeliever, he might have accused you of “picking and choosing” which Scriptures to obey by pointing out that you don’t obey Old Testament prohibitions against eating pork or shellfish. How do verses 14-22 counter this argument?
7. Why would Jesus not have wanted anyone to know where He was staying? (24) Put yourself in the shoes of a first century Gentile and read verses 25-30. Compare Jesus’ compassion toward an unclean Gentile “dog under the table” with the impossibly high expectations of “holiness” (which even the best Jew couldn’t completely meet) demanded by the scribes and Pharisees in verses 1-13 and in earlier chapters. How would Jesus’ grace and mercy toward the Syrophonician woman and her daughter have demonstrated “God’s good news to the Gentiles”?
8. What did Jesus and the woman mean by their respective words in verses 27-28? Who are “the children“? Who is the “bread“? Who are the “dogs“? Think back through Old Testament history, the covenants, and the promises and prophecies of the Messiah. Why was it appropriate and necessary that Jesus’ earthly ministry was almost exclusively to the Jews rather than the Gentiles?
9. Examine verses 31-37. Scripture doesn’t specify exactly, but who do you think the “they” was in verse 32? Think back over the individuals in Mark who have come to Jesus for healing or exorcism. How did they get to Jesus? Sometimes the afflicted person approached Jesus individually, but in 25-26 and 32, whom do we see interceding on the afflicted person’s behalf?
10. Compare the method Jesus used to heal the Syrophonician woman’s daughter (29-30) with His method of healing the deaf man (33-34). Why did Jesus use different methods for healing different people?
11. “The region of the Decapolis” (31) was Gentile territory, meaning that the deaf man was almost certainly a Gentile. Considering what Jesus explained to the Syrophonician woman in verse 27- why would Jesus have charged the deaf man and his friends not to spread the word about his healing throughout Gentile territory? (36) And why would they have been so disobedient to Him? (36-37)
12. Think about the authority Jesus has, as God. What are the different aspects of His authority demonstrated by: verses 1-13, 14-23, 24-30, and 31-37? How does this chapter showcase law (1-23) versus grace (24-37)? Compare the way Jesus sternly rebuked the scribes and Pharisees, the “teachers of Israel” who were supposed to know God’s word, teach it correctly, and model it for God’s people, with the compassion and mercy He showed the two clueless Gentiles in this passage. Is it appropriate to sternly rebuke “Christian” leaders and “teachers” of the church who are supposed to know God’s word, teach it correctly, and model it for God’s people, yet disobey Scripture and teach their own man-made doctrines instead?
In this chapter, we saw a mother intercede with Jesus on behalf of her child, and friends or relatives who interceded with Jesus on behalf of the deaf man. Skim back over chapters 1-6 and jot down all the instances in which a parent, friend, or loved ones brought someone to Jesus. Why did these people bring their loved ones to Jesus?
Do you need to intercede with Jesus on behalf of an unsaved loved one? Why do you want that person to come to Jesus? Write down that person’s name and commit to pray for her salvation every day this week.
Suggested Memory Verse
There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.