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.”
Reading the above, my first question is who are those Jesus is calling hypocrites? Then what is being talked about here where commands of God are replaced by human traditions? The answers to both are in the first six verses
1 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?”
Jesus is clearly addressing The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law and the subject – at least initially – was the traditional washing of the hands prior to eating. But this tradition and that of cups etc were likely good ones. The problem was the elevation of such a tradition as to make it so strong as to call unwashed hands defiled or unholy or virtually blasphemous. The problem was there was no law given by God to create such a perception or belief.
Additionally it led to other problems where tradition actually replaced God’s law. Jesus then gave an example of such in these verses condemning such 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.”
What is interesting in this exchange is that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law made no reply. For good reason, there could be no justifying replacing God’s laws or commands for the sake of their traditions. Notice also Jesus relates cursing one’s father or mother could be the withholding of financial help that would have been available if it is instead given to the treasury (Corban) of God. Easy to imagine how such a tradition could be abused.
As we seek to do God’s will in our lives, to live as Jesus would have us live, we need to be careful not to confuse some tradition with God’s commands and/or directions. There are many fine doctrines and traditions, but we must endeavor never to confuse them with God’s actual commands.
It’s Monday and I hope you have a Great Week! New acronym for you to consider applying daily: POTS for Pray.On.The.Spot. with the idea of doing so without delay.