CHAPTER 7: MEN OR GOD?
Mark 7:1–13 (ESV)
Now when the Pharisees gathered to Him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of His disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And He said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
How do we differentiate in our lives between what are traditions or important tenets based on God’s word? It is quite possible the average Jew in Jesus’ day could not tell these two things apart for it was such a part of their culture.
Is it the Law? or the Spirit of the law? or something else?
Is it man’s law or God’s law?
Are we looking at people pleasers or loving God through serving people?
Are we trying to stay clear of negative consequences or have loyalty to God?
Is there control out of fear or instructive order to trust in God?
These things above are important questions, but also are quite different. It seems that Jesus of Nazareth was dealing with folks he deemed “hypocrites.” This is not a good term for folks who are supposed to be following after God the Father.
Hypocrites do things to please God in their own strength.
Hypocrites do things to please themselves as a motivator.
Hypocrites do things for the applause and notice of others.
The opposite of this way of living is the way of humility. Moral growth is the result of this way of humility and obedience.
Jesus says: “they say whatever you would have gain from me is given to God.” That is quite horrible even though it looks quite holy. The people Jesus is speaking to are setting aside commands of God in order to look good to others and to prioritize selfishness. People are sidestepping doing the commands of God all the while claiming they have obeyed God. Father and mother are not honored.
For example, let’s say you are at church. Your preacher says, “Give money to the church in your mother’s name to honor her rather than buying a gift for her. You also know she can’t pay her gas bill. You have been taught to put your church giving first in order to be right with God. Note… if you are NOT honoring your mother you are not right with God no matter what you give to God at church!
Jesus indicates that clean hands are great, but the aim of cleanliness is in error without a clean heart. It is the heart that matters. It is the motivation that matters. It is a humble obedient heart that matters.