Year 2 Day 303
Read - Mark 7:6-8
Message - Alan Burke
Many people have an idea of Jesus that simply doesn’t match up with the pages of scripture. More often than not he is portrayed as ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ as the hymn writer Charles Wesley puts it. Yes, we see the compassion of Jesus throughout the gospels, we see him befriending those who are often outcasts, excluded, those who are the ‘religious’ have no time for, this is often the popular idea of Jesus. These things are true, but when we begin to look at the four gospels accounts there are often times that Jesus is anything but meek and mild, when we look at the gospels Jesus wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. He wasn’t afraid to call out sin for what it was or confront error.
Here these words here as he speaks to the Pharisees and teachers of the law are brutal, he replies to their question not with a gentle retort, this is full on confrontational, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites”. I wonder if I said something like this to someone what would the reaction be? Anyway, Jesus doesn’t try to justify what his disciples, how they did not follow the traditions of the elders, he doesn’t try to simply explain it away instead he goes for the jugular and he challenges these Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem.
Now how hypocrites is used here isn’t how many of us think of what a hypocrite is, you know that person who is pretending to be something that they are not, they talk a good talk but in reality that’s all it is. We would think that a hypocrite in religion is someone who might keep up appearances when they will be seen, at church, at the school gate, in the knitting club, what ever it may be, but we come across them in other walks of life and we see that it’s nothing more than religion, it’s nothing than traditionalism the dead faith of the living and they are hypocrites.
But here we have something else, these hypocrites are those who are taking their ‘religion’ their ‘traditionalism’ seriously, it matters to them how it is observed, how it was followed not only by them but by others to, they were very serious about it all. The issue is they had all the external stuff and that was it. The quote of Jesus from Isaiah; “These people honour me with their lips, the outward, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” Says as much, these Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who had come down from Jerusalem they were those who took it seriously, their religion mattered, their traditionalism mattered, but their hearts were far from the Lord.
And we can see people like that today, I’ve come across them, I’m sure you have, what matters is not the heart of what we are doing, it’s how it’s been done, you can’t change it, it needs to be the way it has been, doesn’t matter if it has failed miserably for 50 years and lets be honest most of what we have done has failed for more than 50 years, still they don’t want to give up the way things are done, their traditionalism. All of us though should be those who are coming examining our motives, why are we doing what we are doing, is it mere religion, traditionalism, is it because how it has been done or is it because that’s how God wants it to be done, are we desiring to please God?
The Pharisees and teachers of of the law were keeping up appearances, they were focusing on the outward, it was a sign of their piety, their devotion but really it was a complete nonsense and their teaches were but rules taught by men. They were holding on to the traditions of men not the commandments of God, what we have here is that Jesus is making the point to them, that if man made traditions mean that one breaks the law of God, when it causes us to fail to love the Lord our God our our neighbour as ourselves then those things must be rejected. Not all traditions are bad, some are helpful but when our traditions cause us to violate the word of God then we must turn from them, when traditionalism cause gurning and complaining, when the cause strife, when they are a barrier to the gospel we must leave them aside.
Q62 What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’ s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, (Exod. 20:9) his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath-day. (Exod. 20:11)