The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him. They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean —that is, unwashed—hands. (For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches. ) Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?” He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men. Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.” He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition! For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban’ ” (that is, a gift committed to the temple), “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.” Summoning the crowd again, He told them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him. [If anyone has ears to hear, he should listen!]” When He went into the house away from the crowd, the disciples asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don’t you realize that nothing going into a man from the outside can defile him? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated.” (As a result, He made all foods clean. ) Then He said, “What comes out of a person—that defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
Every so often when I’m talking to folks who don’t go to church, or maybe even don’t believe in God, or maybe they do but they aren’t really sure what they believe, and I kind of start talking about the things that I’ve learned that God has taught me over they years.
They usually all have some sort of a phrase or statement they make to push you back or give a little distance in the conversation. They will say well.... I’m not really religious and that is the kind of statement they all make and I always respond well neither am I. I really truly mean that from the bottom of my heart, I really don’y consider myself a religious person.
because religion has taken on a completely different form than what it was intended to take and it is exactly what were seeing here in this passage. Religion today is bound up in traditions and rituals and semi mindless things we sort of do to go through the process or go through the motions of doing church, or doing the god thing, whatever the God thing happens to be.
It really has lost alot of its meaning and importance, and what were going to see today is that god doesn’t want you to be religious, God wants to have a relationship with you He wants to know you, He wants you to learn from Him and hear His voice, He wants you to be lead by His Spirit but He doesn’t want you to be lead and governed by religious thought.
Jesus is confronting religion here.
Jesus is all about freedom, He is about freedom from sin, He is about freedom from fear, He is about freedom from religion. Now here Jesus encounters these religious men these Pharisees and scribes, and to better understand them, we need to learn a little background.
Around the time of Ezra the office of scribe which was a religious office got a kind of upgrade. Now the words scribe simply means copyist. Today we would call them kinkos, or office max, or xerox or something I don’t know because their sole job was to copy the scriptures and that was fundamentally their duty.
But around the time of Ezra he changed all that for scribes because He was a teacher, and as a teacher he was very very critical of the children of israel. They had been exiled into slavery because of their wickedness and at this time they were coming backn into their homeland god was restoring them but ezra was really critical of thier lifestyle.
How they lived their lives, becuase he wanted to teach them the Word of God and prevent them from coming under the judgement of God again.
But Ezra was a teacher even though He was a scribe so he functioned as a teacher and a copyist.
They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
that is a great definition of a teacher, someone who explains the meaning of whats being read so the people could fully understand. This passage in Nehemiah is talking about Ezra. So Ezra is giving the people a sense of what is going on behind the passage and makes it clear for them.
So Ezra kind of jumpstarted a new definition of what it meant to be a scribe and after the time of Ezra scribes became known as experts in the law and teachers. During that time leading up until the time of Christ they became very passionate in their desire to expand the law and define it.
But what ended up happening is that they started adding all of these rules and regulations, and all of these nit picky little things like how to wash your hands and i mean rules for exactly how to wash your hands.. How to measure out the water and all of these nonessentials.
By the time Jesus came along these rules were NOT what God had established these laws were man made. They were also ridiculous. These rules were called the Mishna which were oral man made traditions.
You couldn’t look at your reflection in a mirror on the Sabbath day..... WHY? Because you might work....HOW could that make you work..
because if you saw a gray hair you might be tempted to pluck it out.
you couldn’t carry a handkerchief but you could wear one, because if you carried it thats would be considered working. So if you wanted to take a handkerchief into another room in your house on the sabbath day, you had to tie it around your neck and wear it into the next rule because if you carried it you were working and breaking the Sabbath day law.
People were just locked into this legalism.
They called this legalism the TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS
So in this passage you have a group of these scribes coming to check JEsus out and what do they find? GASP These guys werent washing their hands right. I mean wouldn’t it have been cool to see Jesus do all the things he did while He was on this Earth.... Healing the lame and leper raising the dead, causing the blind to see.
But all these guys did when they come onto the scene is say things like these guys arent washing their hands right… awoowoo
But you know thats what the law does it makes you nit picky and your always kind of looking at people to find out what they are doing wrong. “Watch your step there partner because if your doing something wrong were going to find it”...
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him.
Here come the scribes and they gather around Jesus they corner Him up…
They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean —that is, unwashed—hands.
That doesnt mean they had dirty hands, its not like parents who are fixing plates and see very evident dirt on their kids hands are like GET IN THERE AND WAHS YOUR HANDS This is not whats going on. It’s not that their hands are dirty its that they havent washed their hands accroding to the tradition of the elders.
(For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders.
He explains what they mean here.
He tells us that these people wouldn’t even start eating until they had gone through all of these rituals of washing. Notice the wording in verse 5
Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?”
In other words they are not accusing the disciples of violating God’s word, they are accusing the disciples of violating the traditions that have been handed down over the years which the Jews had elevated to the place of Gods word. They made their rules equal to Gods word. Thats whats going on here.
He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.
They are accusing Jesus and His disciples of not holding to man made tradition, and Jesus is accusing them of abandoning the word of God in order to keep their traditions. In other words He says your coming to me with man made rules and regulations.
Of course that gets me to thinking what things are being taught today that are man made?
In other words are not IN THE SCRIPTURE but are things people believe as truth. Even though they NOT in the Bible.
these types of wrong traditions come from two places
Now personal belief is not what Jesus is confronting here right because notice verse 8
Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”
so that is what Jesus is confronting in these men, hundreds of years of traditions being passed down from men. Which can be very very powerful. But Jesus isn’t coming down on traditions in general we all have traditions we hold to, like on Christmas we all open one present and then go look at Christmas lights.
we all have our traditions, thats not the problem
WHAT JESUS IS DEALING WITH HERE IS TRADITIONS THAT WE ELEVATE TO POSITIONS WHERE THEY ARE EQUAL TO GODS WORD
YOU DISREGARD THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD AND EMBRACE THE TRADITIONS OF MEN
YOU ABANDONED GODS WORD SO THAT YOU MIGHT CHOOSE MENS TRADITIONS
Thats why traditions like this are so dangerous:
EXAMPLES OF UNBIBLICAL TRADITIONS:
- YOU MUST BE ORDAINED TO BAPTIZE SOMEONE
Have you ever heard that one?
No one anywhere can show me where it says a person must be ordained in order to baptize someone. Walking in purity yes, walking in obedience to Christ yes, but I will tell you I think there would be greater emphasis placed on discipleship if the person who leads you to the Lord baptizes you.
It’s like we trust people enough to share the gospel but not perform a baptism when baptism does not save you leading them to the Lord does.
While both are important which one matters the most the gospel presentation and the prayer for eternal life!
Only a pastor can baptise you in water… really where does it say that?
ITS NOT THERE
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.
Paul is here signaling to you and me a danger, that people can be taken captive by the power of human tradition. So is it still a danger today? Absolutely it is and you have to be careful in what we place authority.
NOT tradition, because traditions get started because people start doing them, now if it is a tradition that’s started that’s Biblical then it is not a tradition it is a doctrine. It’s something that God has established in His word. We do communion, not because it is human tradition but because Jesus told us to do it. When you come together do this in remembrance of me, so that’s not tradition it s a command.
We don’t baptize in water because it is a tradition it is a command. But how many other things do we do in the church simply because it is tradition? There is alot believe me. But you know what even though tradition is still something that people follow today tradition really doesnt rule our culture like it has in past times.
times have changed alot.
What do we elevate today?
PERSONAL OPINION- We elevate this more today much more than we do tradition. If somebody has strong opinions today about something we admire them and we will even tell them “Well that might be true for you”… which you pretty much have to take your brain out to say something like that. Because something is either true or its not. We have believed that lie that has elevated personal opinion beyond even beyond tradition.
Have you ever met someone who said I dont believe in a literal hell, I have many times in the past. I dont believe in a literal Hell, ok? Where did that come from did that come from tradition No that came from personal opinion.
Heres the question: WHY DO YOU BELIVE THAT?
Its just my opinion, or I just dont believe a God of love would ever create a place called hell I get that but that turns into nothing more than you opinion. People say things like this all the time, and if I say to them I can show you a place in the Bible where there is a literal place called Hell will you believe it?
No not really, do you know what that person just communicated to me? My opinion trumps Gods word. THATS NO DIFFERENT THAN WHAT THE SCRIBES WERE DOING IN JESUS’ DAY MY TRADITION GOES BEYOND WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS IT GOES BEYOND IT IT TRANSCENDS IT.
It smothers it out.
Whats the number one complaint against most pastors?
Pastor comes in and says Hey guys I want to try something new, HE lays out what He would like to do, they tell him no we have never done it that way before. Or you ask someone why do we do this? Well we have always done it that way. Which is a pitiful reason to do something just because you have always done it.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF GOD WANTS YOU TO CONTINUE?
HAVE YOU ASKED OR DO YOU SOMEHOW THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE IT WORKED ONE TIME IN THE PAST THAT IT WILL WORK AGAIN?
We have elevated tradition over Biblical truth.
So let me give you a real life example of elevating personal opinion over biblical truth. “Hey brother Kyle I heard what you said this morning in your sermon, and I just wanted you to know that I disagree with what you said thats just not how I was raised, ok but did you see the study that went into this do you have scriptures to back up what you say your take on it is?
No I dont I just have never heard it that way before. So you just dont like what I said… right, but let’s look at the Bible together one more time. I don’t care what the Bible says that is not how I was taught.
Listen to me ladies and gentleman seek God’s word and STUDY to show yourself approved dont take what people have taught you and simply call it goldne and develop your beliefs on the back of others TASTE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!
so Jesus tells them listen you are abandoning the commands of God and instead you are holding on to human tradition.
Then He gives them an example.
he says Moses said honor your father and mother and one of the number one ways we can honor our father and mother is by supporting them. They supported you when you were little and now as they get older it is one of the greatest blessings to be able to honor them as they grow older.
So God’s word
He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition! For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.
So God’s word tells us to honor your father and mother but in verse 11
But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban’ ” (that is, a gift committed to the temple),
Now what does this word Corban mean? it means given to God
so they would literally go to their mother and father and say Hey mom and dad I know you needed help and you are about to be bankrupt but you know that money I was going to give to you I decided to give it to God instead, so now there will be no money left to give to you. Arent I holy?
This is what Jesus is saying here, Jesus is saying YOU GUYS HAVE A FINE WAY OF CIRCUMVENTING THE WORD OF GOD TO FOLLOW YOUR OWN TRADITIONS. Gods word says honor your father and mother but you create a loop hole within the context of your traditions to allow the people to bypass the word of God to keep the traditions of men and feel just fine about it.
I feel just fine about not giving my parents any help now that they are old because I have given my money to God. THAT IS MINDLESS RELIGION. Because you have not taken into consideration the command given by God to honor them in the first place!
So that’s basically disobedience parading as Godliness. That’s the definition of empty religion. It tends to be godly you know, but ITS NOT BECAUSE IT IGNORES THE TRUTH OF THE HEART
This gets down to the main point of Jesus’ words GOD DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR EMPTY RELIGION! God doesn’t care about the religious things that you do, what God cares about is whats going on in here, that’s what He cares about. That’s what He is looking at, that’s what He wants you to examine and pay attention to as well.
If your doing things for religious reasons STOP IT! start relating to God on a personal individual level like He is real, like He is alive and like He is someone you can talk to. You will begin to have what we like to call a real relationship with God.
Watch Jesus’ emphasis on empty religion.
Summoning the crowd again, He told them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.
Now you have to remember these pharisees would call people out if you touched your food before you went through all these rituals then you transfer that defilement to your food and then you would eat it and then you would transfer that defilement to your body and it would go in and it would defile all of you. Jesus is saying thats ridiculous that doesnt even make any sense .
So he goes on and the disciples are confused they have been taught these traditions all their lives and so there is confusion.
When He went into the house away from the crowd, the disciples asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don’t you realize that nothing going into a man from the outside can defile him? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated.” (As a result, He made all foods clean. )
Food doesnt go into your heart! were talking about the spiritual heart, that place about how we relate to people, and how we relateto God and so on.
He says all it does is go in your belly and then boom its gone, its expelled and you dont need a greek lesson to know what happens a little while after you eat. He goes on to say ALL FOODS ARE CLEAN!
there are no unclean foods.
Then He said, “What comes out of a person—that defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
He says what you think is your problem is not your problem. You say to yourself....
Man if I could just get my mouth in check, if I could just get rid of this addiction, if I could just let go of this bitterness, if i could stop lusting, if I could stop being so greedy..... if I could lay my pride down...
YOU NEED TO KNOW THOSE THINGS ARE SYMPTOMS OF A DEEPER SICKNESS THAT SICKNESS IS FROM THE INSIDE FRO THE HEART OF SOMEONE WHO IS NOT FULLY DEVOTED AND SURRENDERED TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!!!
Jesus doesn’t want to change your behavior He wants to change your heart!
He wants to take that heart of stone and turn it back into a heart of flesh, He wants to heal you all of you, He is not just into a superficial ritual He wants true change of all of who you are because you encounter who He is!
Some of you may be in here this morning and you have a bad taste in your mouth because you ran into some religious legalism where someone was more concerned with you acting a certain way or being a certain way or dressing a certain way, but you need to know that is not the heart of Jesus and once bad experience does not mean that He doesnt love you or desire you to be saved.
TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!!!
Will you trade in your religion for a relationship?
Will you trade your ritual for redemption
Will you trade your stone cold dead heart for a heart that is soft and filled with the love of the Lord Jesus Christ?