Have you ever wondered what the distinction is between being “religious" and being a person of faith, a follower of Jesus? In today's reading from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus states unequivocally that religion is not enough. Jesus confronts the religious people—in His day, the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law—and points out that their religiosity and the religious traditions to which they hold are insufficient; these esteemed religious leaders themselves do not carry out what God requires. If the very religious cannot do what God requires, what is the answer? In fact, the answer was standing right in front of them—Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, is the God of love who came in the flesh. Jesus came to fulfill all that God’s law demands, and He has done so perfectly! Jesus takes us beyond being religious by giving us new life by His Spirit. Through His holy presence and the connection He brings us through His Word and Sacraments, Jesus has given us a faith, a hope, and a joy that can be found in none other. Can you remember a time when you had been striving to be religious—or, is that where you are today? When you have done so, how satisfying was that for you? Jesus truly is all we need. What does Jesus require of us, then, if he is the one who has given us everything?
Scripture References: Mark 7:1-13
Rev. Dr. Rick Armstrong