Mark 7:1-13 The Pharisees & Scribes Return
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from these guys! They note that some of Jesus’ disciples are not “holding to the tradition of the elders” (v. 3) with regard to ritual cleansing. I love William Lane here:
“Jesus’ evident disregard for the whole structure of oral tradition which examined virtually every aspect of personal and corporate life and sought to regulate it in a manner consistent with the Law under conditions often vastly different from those in which the Law was first handed down. In areas where the Law was silent the tradition was vocal, drawing the conclusions felt to be implicit in the mandates of the written code. The result was a vast legal complex, oral in form but definite in formulation, which was entrusted to the scribes, the recognized interpreters of the Law, and was regarded as binding upon all Israel.” (NICNT, p. 245)
Interesting that the scribes seemed to have the same problem that we often see today: interpreting and applying scripture without regard to the context of the original hearers. Of course we wouldn’t have anything like holding to human traditions over what scripture actually teaches today (v. 7-8). And now back to our story…
Jesus pulls no punches, calling them “you hypocrites” (v. 6)! Way to go Rabbi – that’ll win ’em over.
But Jesus goes on to explain how they “have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (v. 9). The Law of Moses requires that one ‘honor your father and mother’ (v. 10) but the scribes provide a way out of this one – “thus making void the word of God” (v. 13). I love Abe Johnson’s take on this:
Love values human need over religious obligation.
That’s a hard pill for for religious people to swallow, whether today or in Jesus’ time.
Always remember that Jesus’ worst enemies while here on earth were well-respected religious people!
Bottom line: Following Jesus may mean going against the grain of what well-respected religious leaders are saying/teaching.
Until next time… Follow Jesus, my friends.