Mark 7: Why Not Wash?

“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?’ ” (Mark 7:5)

If you read the first 5 verses of Mark 7 from our cultural perspective of “CSI” and swine flu, you might at first glance agree with the Pharisees. Why didn’t Jesus’ disciples wash their hands before they ate? Gross.

prickly_350But this is bigger than a little bacteria on your baloney. This was a showdown between the Pharisees and Jesus over their requirement that people obey all the rules of “tradition.” These were a list of man-made rules added on top of God’s Law. The Pharisees used them to measure holiness – and to give themselves power over people.

We’ll see over the next few days that Jesus used their criticism as an opportunity to point out their hypocrisy. The Pharisees had made the rules the point of their whole religion and lost their focus on God in the process.

Think: We live in a different time and place. Do you think we still tend to put too much emphasis on man-made rules – or do we more often put too little emphasis on obeying God’s direction for our lives?

Pray: Thank God for Jesus’ courage to stand up to the legalism of the Pharisees. Ask Him to help you never to make following human rules the point of your relationship with him.

Do: Make a quick list of a few man-made rules that are sometimes attached to following Jesus?