Jesus’ Concept Of Holiness vs. Boycott/Shunning Concept
As we’ve seen heretofore in this series (here, here, and here), The Pharisees and the scribes which they employed attacked Jesus repeatedly for violating their understanding of unholiness via social engagement with sinners. They saw someone who benefited economically from a person who had gotten money corruptly as participating in, or being otherwise tainted by, the sinful way in which the money was made. This is an example of one of the teachings of the elders. It is not something taught in the Torah directly, but interpreted from it. This practice of adding commandments is something which Jesus sees as emblematic of the Pharisee/scribe coalition.
The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’…
Mark 7:1-7 NAS
Jesus, on the other hand, has a very different approach to social exchange, material benefits and holiness. He inverts their holiness concept, arguing that it is not what is in-coming (income) or received which conveys defilement, but rather what is out-going.
…there is nothing outside the which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man….
And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.“ For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Mark 7:15, 18-23 NAS
A perfect example of this principle is shown dramatically in the incident with the woman who had a hemorrhage:
And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His cloak; and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the multitudes are crowding and pressing upon You.” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me…
Luke 8:43-46, 48-49 NAS
Note that under the traditional understanding she would have rendered Jesus unclean, and perhaps even the whole crowd. But in this case she is made whole. Note the direction, the vector, of power. Instead of her uncleanness being contagious, His cleanliness is. Even though something is flowing out of her in an unclean and unhealthy way, what flows out of Him is what determines the outcome. Power goes out of him. While the temple could be defiled by what is brought into it, Jesus, the true and final temple, cannot. Out of Him flows life. As the title of Craig Blomberg’s book puts it, Jesus possessed ‘Contagious Holiness.‘
It is noteworthy that immediately following this, Jesus will be called upon to deal directly with the corpse of a young woman, and will once again show that the flow of power is from Him outwards into the uncleanliness of death, rather than the other way around.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.