Jesus teaches about inner purity

Jesus teaches about inner purity

Mark 7:1-13 (also in Matthew 15:1-9) 

     One day some Jewish religious leaders arrived from Jerusalem to investigate him, and noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the usual Jewish rituals before eating. (For the Jews, especially the Pharisees, will never eat until they have sprinkled their arms to the elbows, as required by their ancient traditions. So when they come home from the market, they must always sprinkle themselves in this way before touching any food. This is but one of many examples of laws and regulations they have clung to for centuries, and still follow, such as their ceremony of cleansing for pots, pans, and dishes.) So the religious leaders asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old customs? For they eat without first performing the washing ceremony.” Jesus replied, “You bunch of hypocrites! Isaiah the prophet described you very well when he said, ‘These people speak very prettily about the Lord but they have no love for him at all. Their worship is a farce, for they claim that God commands the people to obey their petty rules.’ How right Isaiah was! For you ignore God’s specific orders and substitute your own traditions. You are simply rejecting God’s Laws and trampling them under your feet for the sake of tradition. “For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And he said that anyone who speaks against his father or mother must die. But you say it is perfectly all right for a man to disregard his needy parents, telling them, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you! For I have given to God what I could have given to you.’ And so you break the Law of God in order to protect your man-made tradition. And this is only one example. There are many, many others.” The Pharisees added hundreds of their own petty rules and regulations to God’s holy laws, and then they tried to force people to follow these rules. These men claimed to know God’s will in every detail of life. 


    Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not and have no intention of being. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they worshiped God for the wrong reasons. Their worship was not motivated by love, but by a desire to attain profit, to appear holy, and to increase their status. We become hypocrites when we (1) pay more attention to reputation than to character, (2) carefully follow certain religious practices while allowing our hearts to remain distant from God, and (3) emphasize our virtues but others’ sins. Why do you go to church?


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