Mark 7:5: Then the Pharisees and scribes asked [Lord Jesus], “Why do your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
The pharisees liked to wash things – “cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches” as well as their hands. We are not talking cleanliness but ritual, “traditions of the elders”. The twelve submitted to these traditions (as did all jews) until they became Christ’s disciples.
Disciples of Christ, because they are disciples of Christ, live under tension. No doubt the biggies scowled at the apostles at every opportunity. No doubt eager and dutiful underlings added their scowls to those of their overlords.
The twelve were in a squeeze. They could either appease the religious leaders and offend The Master, or honor The Master and offend the religious lords. Had they chosen man over Christ, the Bible could not have correctly described them as disciples of Christ.
A disciple is higher than a convert. A disciple of Christ is a convert who has proved himself obedient. Because he lives down here the convert is often in a squeeze, having to choose between Christ’s words and other words. It has always been that way, it is that way, it will always be that way. To avoid ostracism, the convert merely has to place his loyalty upon the accepted. To choose Christ is to invite ostracism.
According to Lord Jesus, the religious lords were “hypocrites”, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”. Does this mean everyone who knowingly teaches “as doctrines…. commandments of men” are hypocrites?
Can the word hypocrite be defined as a person who knowingly distorts God’s teachings while suggesting this distortion is authored by God?
Isaiah quotes our God regarding people who replace God’s Word with another: This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me.
They worship God, but in vain. Their worship contains lofty sayings, but God is not impressed.
Two gatherings of christians are praising the Lord Jesus in different locations, one group consisting of converts, the other disciples. Which group, do you think, is more passionate? Has more power? Pleases the Lord?
Mark 7:7 (NLT): Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.
Most ‘christian’ religions are built upon “man-made ideas” that are accepted “as commands of God”. Evangelicalism is certainly no exception.
A disciple has no need for religion. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” is her sufficiency.
The twelve could not serve both the religious lords and the Lord Jesus. Keeping traditions contrary to Christ is contrary to Christ. A disciple of tradition is antithetic to a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mark 7:10: For Moses said, “Honor your father and mother”; and “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.”
Everyone knew there was (and is) a self-inflicted curse upon anyone dumb enough to curse Dad and Mom, and everyone also knew there was a blessing for those who blessed their parents. (“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life.”)
But the religious leaders insisted on something entirely opposite: “Tell Dad and Mom instead of supporting them you will give the money it costs to do so ‘to the temple’.” Lord Jesus challenged these biggies….
Mark 7:11-13: “But you say, ‘If a man says to his father and mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”’ – (that is, dedicated to the temple); and you no longer let him do anything for his father and his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition.”
This confrontation with “the Pharisees and some of the scribes” was a public affair. Use your imagination to bounce backwards into history, and place yourself in that crowd. More than that, become one of them.
You find yourself squeezed. Your respected and feared religious lords have been exposed by none other than the Miracle-worker, the One claiming to be the very Son of God. Lord Jesus used Scripture, which you have been taught to reverence, to denounce an accepted tradition.
You have been raised to believe in this traditional teaching, and even relayed it to others. What the religious VIPs said was true, always and entirely. Your confidence was fastened to them and their God-given insights and decrees.
And now your world is suddenly shaken. You have always been a religious person immersed in a religious society. Your religion binds you to your people who, like all people, are superior in understanding. Your security is packaged in them, and the head of them are the pharisees…. now being crushed by this Nazarene.
And it gets worse….
Mark 7: 13: And many such things you do.
What things? you wonder.
To know, compare each of their hundreds of accepted teachings to Scripture. It’s just that simple. You will discover some are legitimate (Scriptural), but most are not. Being a jew, you have a decent knowledge of The Word, so the task is not overly burdensome. Just compare what leadership says to what the Old Testament says.
But will you?
Such a scrutiny would upset life completely. Your religious kingdom would certainly be “found wanting” as you discover most of what you believed is false. You must accept the painful reality your trusted leaders have led you astray. All this will, to repeat, upset life completely.
An escape from this predicament is to simply ignore Christ’s truth. Distance yourself from Him and His words. Leave things as are. Convince yourself you just don’t understand. And change the subject.
When truth collides with beloved tradition and threatens to dethrone beloved traditionalist leadership our immediate concern is: What will this truth cost me? Would ‘they’ disapprove?
We have a built-in defense mechanism against truth. Potential idols are first responders intent on defending the way it is, presenting an assortment of arguments and excuses why truth should be denied entrance into our lives.
A potential idol is not an idol, and won’t become one until it is chosen over Christ.
It is hard to imagine most in that crowd dared to compare. The price of Christ was too much for all but a few. Those few could be classed with the twelve – disciples of Christ.
Now bounce back into today and, with an improved perspective, look around. Are you surrounded by converts or disciples?
We are obligated to bring everything under Bible light (as the most Holy Spirit so directs). That which we refuse to examine (if and when the Holy Spirit prompts) is a protected idol, a foreign thing that has captured our focus and loyalty.