Dirty Hands. (Reaching into someone’s dark world)
When I was young I always seemed to have dirty hands.
If I wasn’t playing in the dirt in our garden, I was eating it.
Yep. You read right.
Hand sanitizer wasn’t heard of back in the day, so I have memories of standing on a chair at the kitchen sink washing the dirt off my hands before I was allowed to eat dinner.
In Mark chapter 7 we read about the Pharisees finding fault in Jesus and His disciples for not washing their hands before they ate their meal.
I can just imagine Jesus and His 12 unruly disciples at the dinner table. Talking loudly, laughing and sharing stories. They grab some bread, scoop up some avocado dip with it and shove it all into their mouths.
Sorry, I made up the avocado dip bit up 🙂
The Pharisees, who had come to share a meal with Jesus are completely horrified.
“Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” (verse 5)
Jesus calls them hypocrites.
Wow. That’s a bit harsh.
I mean, nobody wants to share a meal with someone who hasn’t washed their hands.
But Jesus wasn’t questioning their hygiene habits. He was pointing out that it was a ‘tradition of the elders.’
This wasn’t the Law of Moses; this was yet another rule the Pharisees had made up.
It wasn’t the hand washing Jesus was upset about, it was their heart condition.
The Pharisees hand washing rule was their way of saying, ‘we follow rules and you don’t.’
They didn’t like Jesus rocking their nice little group with His strange ways.
Reaching into the darkness.
Jesus didn’t care about getting His hands dirty. But the Pharisees did.
You see dirty hands can put your reputation on the line.
It takes courage to get our hands dirty while reaching into someone’s dark world with God’s light.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was known to the Pharisees as, ‘the friend of sinners?’
He knew He needed to get His Holy hands dirty to reach into people’s darkness and pull them out with His love and compassion.
He saw a woman who was caught in the act of adultery, lying on the dusty ground. The Pharisees, ready with rocks in their hands to punish her. Jesus knew to reach into her world He needed to get His hands dirty. So He stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger. The Pharisees dropped their rocks one by one and disappeared. (John 8)
Nobody knows what Jesus actually wrote in the dirt, but I’m sure it wasn’t His Christmas card list!
What about the man in the very next chapter who was blind from birth? (John 9)
Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva. Then He anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay, told him to go wash it off and the man could see!
The man had been blind from birth. All he knew was darkness.
After an encounter with Jesus, there was now colour and light in this man’s world.
We need to bring God’s colour and light into people’s dark worlds.
Remember Pontius Pilate in Matthew chapter 27?
He couldn’t convince the crowd that Jesus was innocent of the crimes they were trying to pin on Him, they still shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
So Pilate took some water and washed his hands saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” (verse 24)
Is that what we say?
“You see to it.”
Have we washed our hands on people like Pilate?
Have we told ourselves that we’re just too righteous to get our hands dirty and reach into someone’s darkness?
I hope not.
I hope our prayer is like King David’s, “Create in me a clean heart.” (Psalm 51:10)
We need to carry God’s light into the darkest of places.
But we must be prepared to forgo our reputations and be brave enough to get dirt on our hands.