“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.” Mark 7:15
Take a look at your hands. What do you see? That’s right, fingers and lines across your palms. When we get older we get more lines and they get deeper. What else do you see? Nothing? Well let me tell you because there is a lot on your hands.
Every one of our hands has little tiny types of bacteria living on your skin. We call them germs. There are some called Staphylococcus and others called Micrococcus. They are actually living organisms that are always on your hands. Then there is probably a community of microbes called Bacillus. Bacillus comes from dirt. So if you picked up a rock this morning or put your hand on the ground you quite possibly picked up some Bacillus.
There is other stuff living on your hands too, like yeast or fungi. Do you know yeast is? How about fungi? All of this type of bacteria is always on our hands every day. Now most of this stuff is not going to hurt you. But there are also some bacteria that are very harmful. It is the kind of bacteria that comes from feces. Do you know what that word means? Yes, you got it, poop. Some types of this kind of bacteria are known as Salmonella, E. coli, and Norovirus. This is the bad stuff.
This is the stuff that when it goes into your body can make you sick. So who can tell me how to prevent yourself from getting sick from the germs on your hands? That’s right, wash them. Washing your hands after you go to the bathroom, before you eat, and after sneezing or coughing into them is the best thing you can do. That’s because your hands are dirty. Washing them makes them clean.
In the Gospel from Mark the Pharisees are angry with Jesus because His disciples aren’t following the rules. These rules are not like washing dirty hands before you eat. These rules are supposed to make a person clean before God.
What are the Pharisees talking about? Are there germs that God doesn’t like? Or is this about something else? What makes us dirty in God’s eyes?
Do you think washing your hands makes you clean in God’s eyes? How about working on Sunday? Do you think working on Sunday makes you dirty in God’s eyes? Do you think if you didn’t do any work on Sunday that you would be clean?
Jesus is teaching His disciples that there is another kind of dirty. It’s called sin. It is when we are disobedient or don’t follow the commandments. It is when we hurt somebody else, or gossip about other students. It is whenever we make our own rules instead of following God’s rules.
Do you think sin is found on your hands like germs? Is sin something that can be cleaned by soap and water? No, because sin begins in the heart. It begins inside of us. So then how do you get sin out of you?
You can’t. Only God can remove sin from our lives. And that is what he did when he sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus died to take our sin away and he gives us the gift of a clean heart in baptism. Baptism is the water that forgives us each and every time that we find sin in our life. And it’s not soap that works with the water, it is the Word of God that works with the water to make you clean.
And you get this special washing every time you hear the words “I forgive you.” Those are the words from the water of baptism that washes your heart and makes you clean in God’s eyes.
Now I am not telling you to stop washing your hands. That’s still a good thing to do because if you don’t the worst thing that could happen is that your body gets sick and you die.
But I am saying the forgiveness that Jesus gives you makes your soul clean and the best part of that is that God will make you alive after you die to live with Him forever.