Jesus, I pray that I will be prepared to hear and accept the call and challenge of discipleship.
Read MARK 7:1–13
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, 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. 4 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.)
5 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?”
6 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.
7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
9 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, ‘Honor 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.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIt is easy to condemn the Pharisees for their spiritual blindness. In what ways might you be spiritually blinded?
The Pharisees believed that if all Israel kept all the law for one day the kingdom would come. So to see the disciples ignoring the necessary ritualistic requirements made them very angry! While some rituals may have had their origins in the heart of God, they had become an outward observance, with little to do with the bringing of transformation or the fullness of life. Echoing the prophet Isaiah, Jesus challenges the Pharisees and shows how they cling to an outward observance and rules made by humans—rules which have little or nothing to do with the Word of God. Further, he quotes the example of “Corban (this belongs to God),” a phrase which the Pharisees used to exempt themselves from God-given responsibilities set out in the Law.
It is easy to point the finger at the Pharisees and to see the challenge of Jesus merely for that place and time. Yet even today it is still possible for us to take the Word of God and shape it so that it can support our own prejudices and agendas. It is important to have a deep openness to the Word of God so that it not only informs us but also shapes our attitudes and actions.
Make a list of religious things you do from tradition. Ask God to reveal which of those things you do purely to honor him.
Today, Lord, let me live in Your presence, that You might constantly challenge my prejudices and renew my mind.
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