Jesus’ words to his disciples in our reading today from Mark 7 are hardly complimentary! He rebukes them not for their lack of intellect but rather for their lack of faith. They have dull hearts. That is, they have not listened to what Jesus has said, observed what he has done, and believed that his word is life-changing. They may appear to be completely different from the Jewish religious leaders who come to accuse and kill Jesus. However, they suffer from the same hard-heartedness as them, and as every one of us.
Before the late Dr Christian Barnard had performed ground-breaking surgery to successfully replace the human heart of Louis Washkansky in December 1967, no-one had ever been able to view their own heart. Barnard showed Washkansky his diseased heart after the operation and why it had to be replaced. In Mark 7, Dr Jesus shows us the diseased, unclean heart of every human being. In his book King’s Cross, Tim Keller says, “in spite of all our efforts to be pure, to be good, to be moral, to cleanse ourselves, God sees our hearts and our hearts are full of filth.” Whatever we do can only be from the outside in. We need cleansing from the inside out. We need the only person without an unclean heart who could stand in our place and take away our heart of sin. Only Jesus. Only the cross can save us, replace our heart of stone and give us a new heart. A clean heart. Surely you want that, don’t you?