“From the Inside Out”

“From the Inside Out”   Mark 7:14-23
The 15th Sunday after Pentecost (B)  9/2/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL

The first words out of our Lord’s mouth in today’s Gospel lesson are so simple and yet, so profound… truly profound. They sum up what is key for you and me and every person here on earth.

Jesus said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.” (Mark 7:14)

If you are looking for it any other way, through any other means, through any other person… understanding, that is… it is not going to happen. All you can expect is to be led further astray… to be further duped and deceived.

Jesus said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand.” Understand what is important and what is not. Understand the truth… the reality of it all. And this includes what sin has brought about into the world… the degree and the depth to which man… all men, women and children… have fallen.

But also in saying, “Hear me, all of you, and understand,” Christ was referring then and now to our understanding what He was ushering in… how He was making all things new again… holy and right again.

Indeed, in Christ, the old gives way to the new including the ways prescribed in the Old Testament and to God’s people of old now finding fulfilment and completion in this new teaching of our Lord.

Where, yes, there used to be certain dietary restrictions governing God’s chosen. There used to be certain foods declared to be clean and others unclean… where, yes, what one put into his or her mouth was important…

… now… here… our Lord shares what is of far greater importance.

That being, what comes out of one’s mouth. What comes from inside of a person… from “the inside… out.”  The truth is, this has always been paramount in God’s Word – Old and New Testaments – but now takes on new meaning and import in Jesus Christ.

The meaning and import of “the inside, out”… that which comes from within a person… and particularly from their heart… from your heart… my heart.

And what a “change of heart” certainly came about with the Fall into Sin. Hearts once pure and holy, became… and are, by nature… sinful and defiled.

Christ declares, “Out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)

From the inside… out. And not from just some “insides” … not just from some people… but all people… you… me… everyone.

Not all of the same ways to the same degree, but evil, ugly, and sinful nonetheless. That is, if we are honest with ourselves and our sinful condition… if we own up to our proclivity to…in one way or another… go against the Word and will of God.

It is an “inside” thing. There is no blaming others or outside forces, situations and conditions. There is no pointing fingers unless they are all pointed at you… at me.

It is an “inside” thing. And therefore, any changes, any rejuvenation and cleansing… purifying… if it is to happen must happen… must come about… from within as well.

And it does, my friends… thankfully, it does. By the almighty power of God… through the working of His Spirit and this by Word and Sacrament.

By the all-sufficient Word alone – the Word preached and faithfully heard. The Word taught and learned. The Word diligently read on one’s own… the cleansing continues.

By the Word connected to simple water as well as to unleavened bread and wine… the cleansing continues… the healing continues… along with the bestowing of peace and comfort, strength and consolation which knows no end.

And all of this thankfully bringing about from the inside out in each of us that which is good and pleasing to the Lord our God…. that which is beneficial and a true blessing to us and to our neighbor.

It is truly amazing what can come and does come from the heart of the Christian man, Christian woman, Christian father, mother, son, daughter and Christian friend. From the inside, out.

It is certainly nothing that we have done. But what Christ has done and continues to do in us and through us… He who dwells richly in us and will so forevermore. To Him alone be the glory forevermore! Amen.