Jesus was not traditional.
Pray: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
Read: Mark 7:1-23
7 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.(Mark 7:1-2)
The Pharisees have made a habit out of following Jesus around trying to find some fault or accusation they can lay against him to discredit his teaching. Here they find his disciples eating with unwashed hands, violating a tradition passed down for generations.
While the Old Testament talks at length about ceremonial cleanliness in various aspects of religious service, but the washing of hands was not one of them; it was merely tradition. The Pharisees saw these traditions as necessary to living a pure, pious life. One couldn’t enter the Temple or observe many aspects of religious life if they were unclean, and for the Pharisees they included rules that were traditionally passed down. How could Jesus and his disciples really be proper teachers if they couldn’t even follow the simple religious traditions that made them clean and acceptable to God?
So, they publically call Jesus out. Jesus publically responds to their criticism as well, and appeals to the Scriptures and not merely religious tradition, turning the table on the Pharisees. They sought to discredit Jesus as a teacher of the Scriptures on the grounds that he was not following their traditions, but Jesus discredits them on the grounds that they do not follow the Scriptures because of their traditions.
Jesus specifically points out the practice of “Corban,” which was a personal declaration to set something aside for God without gaining profit. So, they would claim that they were giving a parcel of land or vineyard to God, knowing they could not profit from it; therefore, the proceeds could not be used to help their aging parents. Doing so would violate the law. The Pharisees probably would have argued that using the money to help their parents was a violation of their vow. Jesus, on the other hand, reinforced that the vow was already in violation of the Scriptures.
Jesus goes on the explain the heart issues behind the whole confrontation. The religious leaders thought they could get closer to God by their traditions and external actions, but not by any genuine love or devotion to God who declares that your religious “clean” or “uncleanness” is based on what comes out of your heart, not what goes into your mouth.
1. Is there anything wrong with religious traditions?
2. Christianity, like ancient Judaism, is rife with traditions. What are some religious traditions that you may have grown up with that you don’t see at City Church?
3. What are some things that might make you uncomfortable, cringe, or think someone should not do ‘in church’ that the Bible does not speak about?
Memorize: Mark 7:15.
15 Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.
This week's devotional is written by John Wells. John is a City Church Owner who serves as a Redemption Group Leader and works for the IT Department of UF.