We have entered into the time of year where many people begin preparing for the fall traditions surrounding the holidays that come with the season. The Pharisees and Scribes had their own religious traditions that had been passed down to them and were questioning Jesus as to why He was not keeping them. As we read today’s passage may we be mindful of the traditions that we keep so that we do not fall into the same error as the Pharisees and Scribes.
Even though the Pharisees had received the customs and traditions from their elders and kept them (7:4-5), they did not keep the law of God. This has serious implications. According to Jesus, what does He about keeping the traditions of the elders?
- It disregards the command of God (7:8)
- It invalidates God’s Word (7:9)
- It revokes God’s Word (7:13)
Simple and to the point, Jesus does not mince words. He uses the law so familiar to them to help break through the callousness of their hearts and show them how just going through the motions did not mean they were worshipping God.
“These people honor Me with their lips, but heir heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of Men” (Mark 7:6-7).
Earl Lavender in his book Mark: Jesus Is God’s Son, helps us to see the blindness of the religious leaders, but also moves us to ask the question if we are truly submitted to God?
“After a wonderful paragraph telling of many healings by the dynamic power of the living God, we once again encounter the lifeless religion of the Pharisees. While Jesus was concerned with the sick, disease, maimed and blind, the experts of the law were preoccupied with their own purity (separation from anything unclean). Jesus reminds us of the danger of such a focus—it often leads into disobedience. When we are more concerned with personal piety than helping the hurting, our hearts are out of tune with God’s song of life. We can even use our rule keeping as an excuse to violate the will of God, as did the religious authorities of Jesus day with their view of ‘Corban’.
The real question is not whether we submit to the external purification rituals of religion, but whether our hearts are submitted to God. What occupies our minds? About what do we choose to think? Might it be possible that, just as with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, our religious rituals serve as cover for unrepentant hearts? Being clean starts with a transformed heart. The external practices of religion only have meaning when they are manifestations of a change of heart (Lavender, 68).”
Lord, search me and see if there is anything in my worship of you that is covering an unrepentant heart. Transform this heart so that my worship fully glorifies you. Help me not give my soul to any other thing but You. Give me clean hands and a pure heart. Help me to seek You and Your face today.
“Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” Psalm 24:3-6