Summary: In this message we discover how to have a closer relationship with God, know God better, really get to know God.

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Mark 7:1-23

INTRO: How do I have a closer relationship with God? How can I know God better? Really get to know God? Move from religion to relationship? You can’t drown if you don’t get wet; "Tradition is a fence around the law." But often our traditions become a wall.

PREV: Today we will see steps in this direction, toward this end. We will discover something we must elevate, something we must eliminate, and something we must emphasize in order to move toward a real, significant, close relationship with the Lord. Its found in Mark chapter 7. Turn there with me please.

As I read vv. 1-5, some religious leaders see some things they don¡¦t like in Jesus¡¦ followers, and it leads them to question Jesus. Notice what they see, and what they ask Jesus.

1The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and 2saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were ¡§unclean,¡¨ that is, unwashed. 3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.„T )

5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, ¡§Why don¡¦t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ¡¥unclean¡¦ hands?¡¨

Mark 7:1-5

A. Leaders accuse Jesus of ignoring tradition

Pharisees and religious teachers ¡V the scribes ¡V experts.

They see disciples eating with ¡§unclean¡¨ hands.

Hygiene not the issue, but ceremonial purity.

To be impure, unclean, defiled was serious business.

Mark explains what is going on.

Tradition of elders - interp of Law by Scribes, synagogue leaders, Pharisees, revered persons. intended to regulate every aspect of life. Keeeping the law was so important ¡V tradition was a ¡¥fence around the law.¡¦ Considered binding as written law, passed down. Collected and codified in 220 AD ¡V Mishnah

A vast legal complex, entrusted to scribes.

Like our laws, interpreted by various courts.

Hand washing was the most common tradition.

Hand washing a good example of how it worked.

Priests are commanded to wash their hands before entering the tabernacle ¡V Ex. 30:19; 40:13.

In their zeal, the Pharisees assumed these priestly purity laws, and imposed them on all the people.

To eat with "unclean" hands made food unclean, defiled body

Pharisees were convinced that strict discipline of conduct was necessary before one acknowledged God as sovereign.

Even hand washing was carefully regulated: used a cupped hand, fingers flexed, a small amount of water. Not to be confused with sprinkling, or dipping to the joints.

Jesus held responsible for disciples’ actions. They thought it signified a larger problem - disregard for the ¡§tradition of the elders¡¨ ¡V the oral tradition..

Jesus responds to this accusation with one of his own. Note what he calls these religious leaders as I read vv. 6-8.

6He replied, ¡§Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

¡§¡¥These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

7They worship me in vain;

their teachings are but rules taught by men.¡¦

8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.¡¨

Mark 7:6 - 8

B. Jesus accuses Leaders of ignoring God’s Word

Refers not to disciples, but to real issue - source of authority

Applies Isaiah’s prophesy (29:13) to them - hypocrites!

He contrasts lip-service with heart devotion.

Hypocrit ¡V a contradiction between what a man seems to be in the opinion of his peers and what he is before God.

These leaders were outwardly impeccable, but inwardly they had not surrendered to God.

They talk spiritually, but hearts are distant! Worship is futile:

They teach men’s rules as authoritative (divine). All this over a request to wash their hands?

You have dropped God’s commands and picked up men’s rules instead. Emphasizes human origin of rules.

They have chosen oral traditions over written commands.

Jesus calls them the traditions of men.

Jesus categorically rejects the authority of the oral law.

Jesus says you have it all backwards. You have put your tradition above God¡¦s commands. When you do that, you are on the road to hypocrisy.

Appl: Perhaps you¡¦ve been asked, ¡§Why don¡¦t you ¡K¡¨

Baptize babies

Sing hymns/Sing choruses

Wear a dress/tie to church/dress casually for church

Wear shorter/longer hair

Worship like us

Read a certain version of the Bible

Give an altar call

Pray to Mary

Go to confession

Show more reverance/enthusiasm

Have Sunday night or Wednesday night service?

All of these are intended to keep you from breaking God¡¦s commands or draw you close to God. But when they are put in place of God¡¦s word, his commands, we¡¦re off base.

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