Give me the Bible
Intro- is a relatively familiar passage to many of us. We turn to the 7th chapter of mark first in our safety chain Bible study. We do so to point out the traditions of men not being equal to the Word of God, and rightfully so.
It sometimes is easy for us to miss the background of what is really happening. Usually when we hear the word “pharisee” we think of “bad people”. Because, Jesus often criticized them. However, they were generally speaking good people who were misguided. I want to spend a few moments tonight talking about what is happening in this text as well as an application for all of us.
I don’t know what comes to your mind when you hear the word tradition… Not all tradition is bad. Some traditions bring comfort… The problem comes when we fail to distinguish between tradition and law.
Something that is passed down...
The reason for the traditions
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 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.) 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?”
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 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.) 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?” 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;
It is easy to quickly dismiss the traditions of the pharisees. I would encourage you to consider why they were in place.
They were painfully aware of their nations history… Turning their back on God, and facing punishment, exile, captivity.
Some of the commandments of God were not very specific, in an effort to try to Please God they chose to come up with specific ways to honor those commandments of God.
In a sense, they were building a fence around the law. They didn’t want people to get close to breaking the law so they developed a barrier.
The washing of hands
This was not a complaint about improper hygiene
Explain- This was a ceremonial cleansing. We read about the cleansing that priests would do before offering sacrifice. The tradition that was developed was that all people would ceremonially cleanse themselves before a meal and possibly between courses.
They were to hold their fingers pointing upwards and have water poured over them, now the water was unclean because it had touched an unclean hand. Then they would turn their fingers down and pour water again and allow all the water to run off of their hands, now they were free to eat.
This grew from a desire to set their minds on pure things, into condemning someone for not doing it and claiming that person was defiled.
The damage of traditions
Traditions on their own, generally are a neutral thing, they do not do good or evil
The problem with their traditions was that they got to the point they could no longer distinguish between what God said and what their fellow man had said.
So much so that they would honor their tradition instead of the Word of God.
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; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Jesus goes on to give them an example.
Jesus talks about a direct command of God - Honor thy father and mother
makes clear that part of what God expected from a child toward a parent was financial support.
However, according to this tradition of the jews, a Jew who did not want to honor their parents in this way could say that their possessions belonged to God, and now they had an excuse for not helping their parents.
They actually followed the regulations of their tradition over a direct command of God.
Jesus said “And many such things you do”
Josephus wrote about this in detail stating that the pharisees passed down traditions from their fathers that were not written in the law of moses… it caused great division.
Some people don’t like other people’s traditions. They certainly don’t like being told they have to follow them.
The challenge of the mirror
Sometimes, I don’t like what I see (still waiting on that growth spurt)… physically or spiritually, are we ever guilty of putting a fence around the Bible?
We love God so much, and we love His word so much, we do not want anyone to defile it, so we build a fence.
Example: We are commanded to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind () - How do you do that? - My family has certain standards. They are based upon this concept but I can’t bind the specifics of these standards on anyone.
We are commanded to do things with decency and order when we worship - There are a variety of ways that can be done
I’ve heard preachers talk about having crazy “dress codes” enforced upon them… They need to be modest, but show me in scripture where they need to have a suit and tie. While in Haiti, heard a preacher give a great lesson in torn shirt, jeans and barefoot.
I have heard church leaders at various places make statements such as “____________ will never happen here” even though Blank is not in contradiction to God’s laws.
Have you ever bound something that God didn’t on someone?
Often times it issues from a pure heart who loves God and His Word. Can I tell you something? God’s Word doesn’t need my protection.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Often times we go with the slogan that we speak where the Bible speaks and we are silent where the Bible is silent. Is that true in your life?
We sang a song earlier… give me the Bible. As a child of God this should be my only desire. The pure, unfiltered, unassisted word of God.
There may be someone here tonight who needs to submit themselves to the pure word of God, not traditions of men, but the pure words of God.