The Jewish religious leaders were now openly hostile toward the Lord and His ministry. It was not unusual for them to follow Him from place to place simply to watch for something to criticize. In this case, they accused the disciples of failing to practice the Jewish ceremonial washing. These washings had nothing to do with personal hygiene, nor were they commanded in the Law. They were a part of the tradition that the scribes and Pharisees had given to the people to add to their burdens.
Mt 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Here we see Jesus' revolutionary teaching about our true source of authority (God's word), and the true source of defilement (our own hearts).
I. The Pharisees had a wrong view of authority.
This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
A. They held tradition above all else.
1. These traditions had evolved gradually.
a. Originally, the law was correctly understood to be 10 commandments and Pentateuch.
b. Then the scribes rose up to interpret and add a multitude of regulations and explanations to God's law.
c. These scribes were responsible for the "oral law" which is also called "the traditions of the elders."
d. These traditions became the Mishna in 200 AD, and eventually were incorporated into the Talmud.
2. Tradition becomes a problem when it is elevated over God's Word. v7-9
a. The Scribes and Pharisees elevated their tradition over God's word.
b. "It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself." - Mishna
c. The Law did not require the washing of hands discussed in our text…
d. But to fail to do this was in Jewish eyes, not to be guilty of bad manners, not to be dirty in the health sense, but to be unclean in the sight of God.
e. They taught that a man who ate with unclean hands was subject to the attacks of demons.
f. To omit so to wash the hands was to become liable to poverty and destruction. Bread eaten with unclean hands was not better than excrement."
3. Tradition becomes a problem when it is used to nullify God's Word. v10-13
a. The Scribes and Pharisees did this with their traditions.
b. Corban was a formula for avoiding doing right by your parents.
c. Actual meaning of word is "a votive offering, a consecrated present (to the Temple Fund)."
d. Seems to have been a means of dedicating property for God's use, and thus rendering that property unavailable for any other use (like meeting the needs of your parents.)
e. Once a person had declared something Corban, they could not go back on that vow.
f. Apparently, the person could dedicate something as Corban, but maintain a life estate in it, thus enjoying the use of the property while avoiding having to share it with others!
g. By declaring 'corban' the Pharisees could sidestep his obligation to support his aged parents, alleging that he had no undedicated property from which he could support them.
h. Corban was an example of nullifying God's word with tradition.
(Exo 20:12) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
B. Jesus put God's word in its proper place of authority.
1. Jesus often quoted scripture, and declared its authority.
2. Note: v10-11 "Moses said… But ye say…"
Mt 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
3. Jesus continuously denounced tradition.
a. In His sermon on the mount, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time (TRADITION)…
b. But I say unto you… (AUTHORITY OF GOD'S WORD)…"
c. The Word of God is our only authority!
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
C. Note the progression that occurs when we first step away from recognizing Scripture as our only authority!
1. Teaching their doctrines as God's Word v7
2. Laying aside God's Word v8
3. Rejecting God's Word v9
4. Finally, robbing God's Word of its power v13
5. It all starts when we question the word's authority!
6. It is the ultimate authority!
Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
II. The Pharisees were Hypocrites. v6
Isa 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
1. A play actor, (literally - "two faces").
2. This word is found only in the
3 synoptic gospels, and used only by Jesus.
4. Came to mean "one whose whole life is a piece of acting without any sincerity behind it at all."
B. Such is one whose religion is tradition because:
1. He believes that he is a good man if he carries out the correct acts and practices, no matter what his heart and his thoughts are like.
2. There are many modern day Pharisees.
3. The focus of their religion is upon the externals.
4. Since I don't do this and that…I am more righteous than others.
5. Nearly every grooup that promotes 'works' salvation operates on that basis.
III. The Pharisees Focused on Externals.
A. Most religions are based on externals.
B. But there is a major flaw in that philosophy!
(Mark 7:6b) This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
C. It is contrary to the Word of God!
(Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Titus 3:4-5) But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1. Jesus' message (Christianity) is a matter of internals. (v15, 23)
2. Jesus was teaching that it's not what a person DOES that makes them right with God. Rather it is what they ARE.
3. What made David the man after God's own heart?
a. He was adulterous.
b. He was a murderer.
c. He was often weak and vacillating.
d. YET, he had a true INTERNAL faith.
4. Nothing we do for God can make us righteous!
5. It's what He has already done for us that counts!
"The religions of the world can be spelled D-O, but the true Christianity is spelled D-O-N-E!"
(John 19:30) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
6. We're saved and made right with God simply by believing what He did and receiving it.
(John 1:12-13) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
(Rom 10:9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
(Rom 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
7. There's nothing in any of these verses to indicate tradition or external observances has anything to do with it.
(Mat 7:22-23) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Jesus said, (Mark 7:6b) This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.