Mark 7: Clean Hands Empty Hearts

“He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘ “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.’ ” (Mark 7:6-7)

To catch up: The Pharisees, threatened by Jesus’ power and popularity as a rabbi, try to bring him down to their size by pointing out that his disciples are breaking an important “tradition” about hand-washing. Jesus cannot be diminished and responds with this quote from Isaiah to their ancestors.

prickly_350Two big things to notice:

Jesus’ point is NOT that it doesn’t matter if we obey God. Jesus obeyed the Law. This issue was about a man-made rule that had been given the weight of God’s own commands. In fact, these “bonus rules” not given by God had become more important than what God actually said.

The larger point Jesus makes here is that we can keep following the rules long after we’ve stopped following God. Our worship of him is not about everything we do together on Sunday morning; it’s about him. We obey him because he is God, not because we are good.

Think: Have you ever caught yourself honoring God with your lips even though your heart was far from him? Why does that happen? How can we keep it from happening?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be real in your worship of him. Ask him to help you to avoid making your worship and obedience more about you than him.

Do: Next time you actively participate in singing praise and worship songs to God with a group of people, get ready ahead of time by moving closer to God in your heart.