Mark 7:1-9, 13

Spend time in prayer and silence with God asking Him to meet with you and speak to you.

Bible Reading

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come to Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of His disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) 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 ‘unclean’ hands?” 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. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And He said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! Thus you nullify the Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

– Mark 7:1-9, 13


Another reason why the religious leaders hated Jesus was that He nullified their traditions. He kept doing things in violation of the “Traditions of the Elders”, a body of Jewish rabbinical teachings that had accumulated over time as an amplification/explanation of the Old Testament. To the Pharisees, the “traditions” was an authoritative body of teachings that had equal authority as the Old Testament writings. Jesus countered that their “traditions” were man-made, not God given, and they often contradicted the spirit and intent of the Laws of Moses. Thus, Jesus and the Pharisees ran into one another head-on over the issue of divinely constituted written authority.

The Big Question

What freedoms did Jesus demonstrate? What did He accuse the leaders of? Both in Jesus’ day and today, people accumulate extra-biblical teachings and hold them to be of equal or greater value than the Word of God contained in the 66 books of the Bible. Do you tend to read other religious literature more than actually reading the Bible? Are you listening daily to the voice of God, as He comes to you through sacred scriptures?