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Study of Mark: Mark 7:1-13 July 11, 2010

Posted by Warren in The Gospel of Mark.
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Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 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.) 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?” 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;in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’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) — then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
(Mark 7:1-13 ESV)

Confrontation by the Pharisees. They’ve been out to get Jesus for some time (since Mark 3:6, when He challenged their Sabbath laws in a way that they could not refute) and now they’ve decided the disciples were unclean because they didn’t wash their hands before they ate. Verse 3 tells us whose law that was — and it wasn’t God’s. There was a LOT of washing going on — ritual cleansing was a rule of the day.

And Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They follow their own laws and regulations, but in doing so break the Law of God. People were to honor their parents. But when someone’s parents were old, and needed help, the money they should have received from their children was already promised to the priests for “God’s use.” He also says that this is only one of many ways they honor themselves over God.

I see a lot of parallels with today. We work so hard, trying to make sure that God is happy with us, that we forget what our priorities should be. We spend so much time running our ministries that we don’t help the needy. We spend so much time in study that we ignore our families. We get so wrapped up in what we’re doing for God that we forget to worship and praise Him.

We also tend to exult our own rules and legalities over what God says to do. We’ve decided women shouldn’t wear pants, that men should have short hair, that music with a beat is sinful, that movies are evil, etc., and we forget that God is no respecter of persons — He wants us to talk to people who aren’t our idea of “good Christian folks” so that we can be a witness to them; but our legalism gets in the way. We can’t walk up to a group of skater punks and share the Gospel with them, because they are different. They need to get a haircut and buy some decent clothes before they can get saved. And that’s just wrong. We need to get over ourselves and our legalities, and be faithful witnesses for Christ.

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