Mark 7:1-13:Truth v tradition.

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the market-place they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)  So 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 defiled hands?’  He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

‘“These people honour me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.”

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’

And he continued, ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, “Honour your father and mother,”[and, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.” 11  But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God) – 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.’ NIV UK 

The concept of ‘’Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,’’ takes a hammering in a passage like this. John Stott wrote a book entitled ‘Christ the controversialist.’ Jesus did not avoid difficult conversations when they were necessary. He was ready to confront wrong believing and faulty practice.

Not all traditions are bad. At best, traditions preserve what is best from the past, and transport it into another age. Good things can get carried forward by traditions. But wherever tradition clashes with truth, the truth must win. Tradition must bow to Biblical revelation. All tradition must be judged at the bar of Scripture. Let it be measured against the plumb line of the Bible (13).

Worship is about more than singing. It concerns living. It’s about obeying ‘’teachings’’ (7). If we follow the ‘’rules’’ of men, rather than the Word of God, our worship is empty (6, 7).

Jesus refers to a practice prevalent in His day where Jews would use a tradition of promising a gift to God as an excuse for not helping their parents. Is that the kind of worship God desires? Of course it isn’t. It’s been pointed out, from this, that we must not use one part of the Bible to avoid obeying another bit. Hold all truth in balance. God does not contradict Himself.

PRAYER: Lord God, I want you to have the final say in my life, and not any tradition.