Thank God that in Jesus you can enter his holy presence. Then, ask for God’s help as you read his Word.
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 “unclean,” 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 ‘unclean’ 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 but rules taught by men.’  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”  And he said to them: “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 your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God),  then you no longer let him do anything for his 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 the confusion and distortion the Pharisees made?
Jesus isn’t talking about hygiene here. He is addressing the way in which the Pharisees had built up a body of traditions that made it increasingly difficult for people to approach God.
Jesus wanted people to understand the Law as God had intended. The Pharisees had developed many detailed regulations to interpret the Law. Some, like the rules about washing, made life more difficult. This allowed the Pharisees to boast about their godly lifestyle. Other traditions, like those relating to “Corban” (dedicating your income to the temple, v. 11), were designed to circumvent Jewish law, making life easier while giving the impression of righteousness. God’s intention in giving the Law was to point people to himself. The Pharisees had created a whole additional system that had the opposite effect: it kept people away from God.
Of course, we don’t make lists of rules that prove how Christian we are, do we? The good things we do are because of the changes God has made in our hearts, not because we’re trying to make others think we’re holy—right?
Examine why you do things the way you do. Is there any motivation other than to please and honor God?
Ask God to forgive you when you try to appear righteous through your actions, instead of drawing near to him.
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