Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 7:8
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” – Mark 7:8
Some Pharisees and scribes gathered around Jesus when He and the disciples left Jerusalem. Both groups were very legalistic and demanded that the Law be followed completely. As they were watching, they noticed the disciples did not wash their hands prior to eating, thus not following the traditions of the elders. “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.” Mark 7:3-4. They required a lot of work to remain pure when eating.
So, the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus regarding these rules, because they were not walking according to tradition. However, Jesus does not apologize to them on behalf of the disciples. Instead, He rebukes the Pharisees and scribes. We read later in the chapter, “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honor 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.’” Mark 6-7. Jesus was speaking of Isaiah 29:13 where it says. “Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,”
Jesus then continues by telling them, in our focus verse, that they are neglecting the commands of God and replacing them with the traditions of men. He then gives the example of how the commandment ‘honor your father and mother, and He who speaks evil of them is to be put to death. And how, due to their traditions, “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.’” Mark 7:11-13.
We need to look at the things we see and hear from Christian and church leadership, test them by comparing them with what the scriptures say, and ignore them if they counter what the Word of God says. Note, it is important to make sure it is a reliable translation. Many times, these weird and heretical teachings are the “traditions’ within churches or denominations that need to be called out, renounced and ignored. One very recent example was a Pastor in north Atlanta, I will leave the name off, who taught his church to ignore the Old Testament and focus solely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While this sounds reasonable, it is not right. The Old Testament lays the foundation of why we need salvation, and that Jesus’ coming was ordained from the beginning. Both testaments together are a complete story of God’s love toward us. Plus, if Jesus and the apostles quoted it many times, were they wrong, and did they not totally understand? I doubt it seriously.
We need to be careful that we do not accept traditions that contradict the scriptures. Too many times, and I will say once is too many, church leaders try to make Christianity easier by teaching things that are accepted in the culture today but are radically different from the commands of God. We need ensure that what we teach is real and does not counter His Word, for we will be held accountable. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1. The Pharisees and the scribes were not given leniency, and neither will we. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.