Mark 7:1-23: Tradition!

What are your favorite family traditions?(Possibly a vacation spot, or something you do every year for the Holidays) Do any of your family's traditions annoy you?

In today's passage, Jesus once again steps on some favorite traditions.
Let's read about it in verses 1-13.

The Pharisees have traveled from Jerusalem for the sole purpose of finding fault with Jesus. For the third time in Mark, they attack Jesus indirectly by targeting His disciples.

What is ceremonial washing and why was it so important to the Pharisees? (This elaborate ritual washing was more symbolic than hygienic. These rules were not even derived from Scripture, so Jesus rebukes them for giving too much weight to the "tradition of the elders".)

Why does Jesus call them hypocrites? (They honored God outwardly, but not inwardly. They were zealous to honor God through their own traditions, but ignored God's explicit guidelines for honoring Him – His commands!)

According to Jesus, what is essential to true worship? (True worship involves drawing near to God with your heart, not just mouthing words of praise.)

Staying focused on God during worship isn't easy. When your mind starts to wander, how do you focus your heart on God? (Try to block out surrounding people and unrelated thoughts. Close your eyes. Meditate on the words. Expound on the words in prayer to God.)

How did the Pharisees give precedence to tradition over Scripture? (On a technicality, they allowed sons to neglect helping their parents with possessions or savings which were designated in a vow. So they let a human ritual take precedence over a God-given command.)

What traditions do we often place above God's Word?

What do Christ's words in this passage establish about the authority of Scripture compared to other writings? (Every other writing is subordinate to God's Word, our one rule of faith and practice.)

Let's read verses 14-23.

What is Christ's main point here? (Ceremonially unclean hands or foods do not affect your heart. It's not what you put in your body, but what comes out of your heart that matters to God. And Jesus lists the many evils that "come from inside and make a man unclean.")

As were the Pharisees, are you focused more on your body than on your heart? Which do you care for more diligently?

As we pray, let's commit our hearts completely to God and seek His help in living by His Word alone.