Reading Mark 7 this week left me a little apprehensive at first. Jesus confronted the Pharisees and they squirmed in anger. I have my own pharisaic tendancies and it's always troubling to see Jesus confront them (and me in turn) so clearly.
In Mark the Pharisees didn't know Jesus at first; but that many grew to dislike him very quickly. They were troubled becuase he looked past the law and those who casually broke it. Jesus' friends ate with unclean hands. They were breaking the law and the Pharissees wanted Jesus to correct his friends. Jesus responded like they were missing the bigger picture.
The Pharisees were confused. Jesus was both someone to admire and to confront: he healed the sick and caste out demons. He had authority. He knew that his real enemy was not of this earth but the Devil himself. Then they looked at his friends eating with unclean hands and were outraged. They confronted Jesus about his friends' hands and He responded,
... he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (Mark 7:14-15 NRSV)
If you read the end of Mark 6 you'll find out just what the Pharisees were missing. Huge crowds were coming to Jesus. Just touching His garments was enough for the hurting and the sick to be made whole. The Pharisees came upset about dirty hands. They missed the great work that God was doing in their time through faith. We often find ourselves in the same confusion. We believe people have to be ready to meet God and then God acts independently of our approval saving all who believe. Thanks be to God.