There are good reasons for missional Jesus experiencing difficulties at home. Opposition to Jesus derived from his behavior, his attitude, and his remarks to those who questioned his behavior and the chutzpah he had to do what he was doing.
It was customary to wash your hands in the days of Jesus with a “fistfull of water,” as someone like Martin Hengel has argued. That is, if you make a cup out of your hand, fill it with water, and then pour the water from one hand onto the intersection of your wrist and the palm of the other hand, you can “wash” both hands. (This is what Mark 7:3 is referring to most likely.)
1. Missional Jesus did not wash his hands this way — maybe they didn’t wash their hands at all. But washing hands this was a “work of the law” (New Perspective theory) or a “covenantal marker” (something that showed commitment to the covenant). Furthermore, so significant was such a thing that most would have seen it as “biblical.” Therefore, Jesus was supposed to have been breaking Torah.
2. Missional Jesus incorporated his followers into his nonchalant attitude to handwashing.
3. Missional Jesus’ response was not an “Excuse me, let me correct that” but a reference to Isaiah. And the reference was accusatory in two ways: these folks honor God with lips (externals) but not heart (internals) and these folks exalt human traditions (their handwashing custom) over biblical texts.
4. Jesus is a Reformer — he appeals to sola scriptura as the primary place to derive one’s ethical codes. (This text deserves more consideration in the Scripture/Tradition discussion about theology and interpretation.)
5. Missional Jesus grinds his point by appealing to the custom of excusing oneself from care of parents because one has dedicated monies to sacred places.
6. Missional Jesus thinks purity is a matter of the heart and is made visible by good works.
Mark 7:1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Mark 7:9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Mark 7:14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
Mark 7:17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”