The Word This Week

Mark 7:1…

What place does tradition hold in your life?

When the tradition you hold holds you there is a problem.

It seems the Pharisees and some of the scribes have come from Jerusalem specifically to examine Jesus to see if He is following their religious traditions. Right away they spot a problem, which I’m sure pleased them greatly because now they had something with which to accuse Jesus.

There was a religious tradition kept by the Pharisees and scribes which required a special ceremonial washing of hands prior to consuming food. It was more than a simple physical cleansing of hands; it was a ceremonial ritual performed in an elaborate way to exemplify both the knowledge of the religious tradition and the keeping of it.

Right away they spotted Jesus’ disciples eating bread with unwashed hands. This was the kind of thing they had come hoping to see. Jesus evidently had little respect for the religious tradition of washing hands before eating – which meant in their eyes Jesus had no respect for any of the religious traditions. This should be an indictment of Jesus in the eyes of the followers of Jesus.

Why would anyone follow anyone who showed little or no respect for religious tradition – held by religious men for centuries? Their accusation was meant to separate Jesus from His followers. Surely, they would see Jesus was not religious.

He wasn’t. And He isn’t. If you think the basis of your gaining entry into eternal life in heaven is the keeping of ceremonial rites and traditions, you’re as wrong as the Pharisees and scribes were. Later, Jesus would call them sons of the devil because they were.  

It is the enemy who would seek to impose external cleansing upon believers – if only he could.

Jesus pointed out to them this focus on the externals has always been wrong. Isaiah prophesied about this very thing. To focus on cleansing the outside while allowing the internal to remain corrupted may be impressive to men, but it isn’t to God.

There is certainly nothing wrong with washing your hands before you eat, if possible. But it certainly isn’t part of any equation dealing with eternal life in God’s kingdom. Instead of washing your hands, allow Jesus to wash your heart.

Pastor Bill