Breaking the Rules
Think about and then thank God for the freedom and peace in Christ that you have today.
Read Mark 7:1-13
 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around 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 marketplace 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 honor 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!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’  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)-  then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.  Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was Jesus criticizing these teachers for?
It really annoys me when people don’t line up politely when they’re waiting to get on the train. Yet I also like to bend every rule I can! The Pharisees weren’t overly impressed by the disciples laissez-faire approach to the book of rules (5). And Jesus wasn’t overly impressed that the Pharisees weren’t modeling in their spirits what they said in their words. Good intentions and tradition were obscuring the real point of worshipping God (8). They were losing the message by being obsessive about the detailed rules (13). There’s some great stuff in both established mainstream churches as well as in brand new faith communities. Both risk losing the message within rigid rules or excessive freedom. We are called to live out our faith in every aspect of our lives as another chapter in God’s big story. We all have a part to play. Where do you get too caught up in talking about rules and need to live out the story more? Have you been a Pharisee to someone else and need to ask them, and God, for forgiveness? “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Ask God for any help you need to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with him.
Lord, help me keep a good balance between observing helpful rules and traditions, and letting them distract me from You.
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