Perhaps that old radio character, The Shadow, was paraphrasing Jesus when he said, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man?” . . .
After hearing Jesus’ words of rebuke in Mark chapter 7 (v. 1-15) it doesn’t sound like Jesus would ever have made it as a politician. He never seemed to care about offending the ‘right’ people or saying the ‘right’ things. He certainly didn’t use politically correct language - as we will hear again next week when we read further in Mark.
It is just too tempting to try and imagine Jesus as a politician after a week of one convention and another coming tomorrow.
But, the truth is, I have trouble imagining him on the campaign circuit. He just doesn’t fit the mold. Even if you remove the prescribed ‘suit and red tie’ and imagine Jesus in rolled up shirt sleeves, it is difficult to hear his very political speech in today’s political context.
I’ll admit there are a few similarities;
- Jesus DOES like to poke fun at the current administration. Whether it is the Romans and their ‘folly’ of Military Power or the religious leaders who cooperated with Rome in order to secure some semblance of their own power, Jesus misses few opportunities to bring the powerful down to a very earthy level.
- He also doesn’t waste (precious) time defending himself. Like many of today’s politicians, when his actions are questioned, rather than go defensive, he jumps to the offense, quickly turning the tables on the accusers.
- and he is quick to appeal to the crowd’s concerns rather than stick to the ‘insider’ debate. When challenged by the orthodox sect of Pharisees, he turns around and speaks to the crowd of commoners which does not follow the strict rules normally applied only to priests.
Jesus knows his audience. He knows where his appeal lies and yet he doesn’t exploit the masses. He doesn’t just say what they want to hear, he lives it, walking among them healing, exorcising demons, and teaching.
Unlike today’s politicians, Jesus wastes no time on distracting issues, even if they are popular ones. Instead, he cuts to the hearts ‘of men’ (and women) by pointing out how easy it is to overlook one’s own faults when you are out there accusing someone else.
His piercing gaze sees the “evil lurking in the heart” so he quotes Isaiah from the LXX or Greek translation of the Holy Books.
This people honors me [God] with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me.7 Their worship of me is empty since they teach instructions that are human words.
Jesus has the ability to boil complex codes of instruction and centuries of case law down to the simple equation of
‘God loves you’ and God requires your love in return.
Your love of God is BEST shown, not just by rituals of washing away, of turning from the world to thanking God, but also by
loving actions towards your neighbor...and oh by the way,
EVERYONE is your neighbor. ...(no exceptions allowed for color, sex, ethnicity, gender preference, or political affiliation..)
We could almost laugh at his stark portrayal of the human digestive system. It’s almost as if he chose his words to be a sound bite for the 11 o’clock news.
“..it’s the umm ‘things’ that come out of a person that defile...” he says...
Yet Jesus won’t ever be caught in ‘mis-speak’ and he won’t be apologizing for the truth he utters. Even the fact checkers will be surprised when they are forced to give him flying colors in the truth department.
But we also know that He will be accused of blasphemy. All because Jesus really does know what lies in the heart.... ....the heart...of God.