I look back often at some of the things I acquired in my developing years, only to discover that they probably are more of tradition than what would be an understanding and application of the Word of God. An excellent illustration of this can be found in Mark 7.
The chapter opens with a group of individuals gathered around Jesus – Scribes and Pharisees in particular. Their question is a “loaded one”. There is the subtlety of accusation against the disciples, as well as our Lord. Surely you have encountered that type of an individual, looking down their long noses with a sense of “I understand the teachings of the Fathers and you and they do not!” Given enough rope, they will probably hang themselves. Precisely what is about to take place!
This group of “super saints” picks on a tradition of washing of hands before they eat as well as cups, pitchers, and copper pots. While these certainly are healthy concerns, what they were endeavoring to do was turn it into a “spiritual” tradition of the elders! Let’s face it, there is always something for which we might criticize others, and they us.
Our Lord’s response, taken from the Prophet Isaiah is classic: “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of Men. Neglecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, “honor your father and your mother; and who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death”; ‘but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban. (that is to say, given to God,’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
More is said in this portion of the Word of God about where this all originates. Our Lord shows them the real problem and the evil things that “proceed from within and defile the man.” (v23)
Until a man is regenerated by the Spirit of God, born into the family of God, yielded himself in gratitude to the one who died on Calvary for his sin, only corruption can proceed from the heart. Those religionists thought they had it all together, but they had a head religion without the experience of a HEART that had been humbled with the knowledge of God’s love, shed abroad on Calvary.
They criticized ….He was crucified! What love for the critical and corrupt, for you and for me!