Mark 7 English Standard Version (ESV)
Traditions and Commandments
1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
- All of us are influenced by traditions of one sort or another. But at what point do traditions lose their value or even become counterproductive? When do religious practices become a substitute for really obeying God? In this study Jesus has some rather harsh words for the Pharisees and the traditions they choose to observe.
- What religious traditions influence your life? Is that influence good or bad? What sorts of traditions do we observe today that get in the way of really honoring God?
- In what ways do you, like the Pharisees, sometimes emphasize appearance over internal reality?
- God, help me to truly worship You in spirit and truth and not just going through the motions. Help me also that I may present myself each day as a living sacrifice which is holy and acceptable to You. ( John 4:23, Rom 12:1)