Summary: Jesus confronts Pharisaic tradition.
Acceptable Worshi) Mark 7:1-23
INTRO.: As we read the second through the seventh chapters of the Gospel of Mark, it seems to me there is a major emphasis on the controversy between the Pharisees and Jesus. The great expositor, G. Campbell Morgan, thought Jesus was intentionally confronting the legalism and traditionalism of the Pharisees and Scribes. Perhaps so.
God has given us a manual by which we are to operate our lives. He knows better than anyone else how we function best. Pharisees had set about improving on it and had accumulate a vast number of traditions and interpretations that actually obscured God’s clear instructions. Jesus flaunted these traditions and regulations of men.
Mark 6:30 says the disciples “gathered around Jesus.” They came to report on their work for Him and how God had blessed them. These Pharisees gathered around Him I order to criticize. They had also heard what had been accomplished during His tour of Galilee and were fearful. They have lost followers and influence. They gathered around Him for “damage control.”
They criticize His disciples because they eat with ceremonially “unclean” hands: Jesus has some important lessons to teach them:
I. The cleanliness of your hands is not as important as the condition of your heart. 1-6
A. Of course, these Jews were not concerned with hygienic cleansing, but ritual cleansing.
1. There was a prescribed method and definite steps to be followed and the hands must be clean of any dirt or grime before the ceremonial cleansing. Then, just as we say a blessing before our meals, they would wash in the specified way thinking it pleased God.
2. God required the Jews to make a distinction between clean and unclean things. Unclean things were things unfit for human consumption or unfit to offer to God as a sacrifice. Lev. 10:10
3. Jesus freely violated Pharisaic tradition, but He never violated Old Testament law. There is nothing in the Law of God about the washing of hands. It was strictly a matter of tradition.
B. Jesus called them hypocrites because they put on a show as far as outward appearance but their hearts were not right with God.
1. God is concerned we obey His commands, but He expects it to be from the heart, not just for others to see.
2. When a Samaritan woman asked Hm about the place of worship, Jesus said outward things such as that were not so important, but worship must be “in spirit and in truth." John 4:24
3. God commends obedience that comes from the heart. Rom. 6:17.
C. This translates into our everyday life and it makes perfect sense:
1. Christian husbands are commanded to love our wives. But what is love worth if it does not come from the heart. Is there such as love that doesn’t come from the heart?
2. Christians are expected to worship on a regular basis. The Lord expects to meet us each Lord’s Day in His house of worship. But, if we do it strictly out of moral obligation or because our parents and grandparents did, then we will miss out on a great blessing. We worship because we love God and seek a word from Him.
3. God expects us to give our finances to the work of His Kingdom, but not as a matter of compulsion. We are to make a decision based on the love for God that is in our hearts. II Cor. 9:7, 8
4. If Jesus is living in you, He is changing your heart for the better day by day. It is not an instant change. Examine your heart and be patient as God’s Spirit works in you.
II. In the early days of the Church, there was persecution by these same religious leaders who became jealous because the Apostles of Jesus were drawing more attention than they could. Acts 5:17ff
A. The Apostles were arrested and jailed then freed by an angel and returned the next morning to preaching and teaching in the temple.
1. The second arrest was more courteous than the first, I imagine. The soldiers feared the crowds that had gathered around these men. But the Apostles came peaceably.
2. The High Priest’s accusation is a testimony to the effectiveness of the Apostle’s preaching. His question is “How do you dare fly in the face of my authority?”
3. Peter’s answer is direct and to the point. “We must obey God rather than men.” v. 29. They knew he was right but wouldn’t admit it.
B. These Pharisees had heard this before in different terms from Jesus: Mk. 7:7-13
1. They were teaching others to obey the commands of men and even nullifying the commands of God by doing so.
2. Their “CORBAN” tradition allowed them to teach people to ignore the commandment to honor their parents and keep money that would otherwise be used to meet the needs of elderly parents.