The essential element of Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus. Last week I participated in a study of Mark 7, and was reminded just how personal Jesus’ interactions with people were during his ministry on Earth.
There are three major segments to Mark 7, and at first glance they don’t seem to have too much in common (at least, they didn’t to me). I strongly encourage you to read the whole chapter yourself (use BibleGateway if you don’t have a Bible handy), but I’ll give a brief overview of each section:
I really think that those who endorse a “plain reading”, strictly literalist interpretation of the Bible are missing out on some of the most awesome stuff that God has given us the Scripture. Let me give a bit of background to explain what I mean:
I was recently asked to preach on Mark 13, in which Jesus describes the end times (and also some more imminent times). It’s a complex chapter and I’m not going to try and unpack all of it here, but I was particularly struck by his description of the Temple desecration. Jesus starts by saying that the Temple will be destroyed, torn apart block by block, and also says that the fulfillment of this prophecy will give the listeners confidence in what he tells them about the end times. The destruction of the Temple will happen soon, in the lifetimes of his listeners, and then they will know that what he says about his second coming is also true.
So why do I say that this is a challenge to a literalist reading of Scripture? Well, let’s look at what Jesus says. He warns the listeners to flee from the destruction, and he does it using these words: