Challenging Established Orders

“Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.”

Mark 7:1-2

This morning I got up very late.  I was almost late to school!  In the car on the way to work I was listening to Terry Wogan, as I usually do, and he played Susan Boyle’s new song, Wild Horses. It’s not a song that I’m familiar with, but I thought it was beautiful, and that Susan sang it extremely well.  It was great to hear Susan Boyle back on the radio after her problems towards the end of her time on Britain’s Got Talent. Throughout her time on the show I felt that the stories that the media were putting out about her were most unfair.  It was almost as if they were simply turning up to laugh at the woman they seemed to think was mad, and tell us to do the same.  Susan Boyle had clearly created quite a stir, and the press were keen to undermine her by portraying her as mad woman who did not deserve the success that she was enjoying.

Jesus had evidently created quite a stir, too.  News of him had reached the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and they had made the long journey to see for themselves what he was up too.  They wanted to catch Jesus breaking their religious laws, and hoped if they did so they could use this to undermine his authority with his followers.  They would then drift away, Jesus, they thought, would shut up, and everyone could go back to how things were before Jesus started breaking the peace.   Unfortunately for them, on this occasion Jesus could not be criticized; his disciples were not actually breaking the law when they ate with unwashed hands, they were merely not adhering to religious traditions.

For the purposes of today’s reading, though, whether Jesus and his disciples were breaking Mosaic Law or not following tradition is not the main point.  The most significant point for me in this verse is the fact that Jesus’ reputation has reached Jerusalem; the religious leaders are so concerned about the following that Jesus was getting that they travelled to him to try and catch him out.  Clearly Jesus was not some insignificant teacher, then, but someone who posed a real threat to the established order.  In the same way, Jesus challenges the established order of our lives; he wants us to listen to him, to pledge ourselves to follow him, and ultimately to give our lives over to him.  This is certainly a big ask, surely if Jesus is truly the Son of God, we need to consider the implications of this – whether we decide to follow Jesus or not.

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