Notes: September 21, 2009

“You Hypocrites”

When certain scribes of the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders, Jesus responded sharply.

Mark 7:1-9; Matthew 15:1-9

  • A matter of custom, not hygiene (v. 2-4). The tradition, less than 200 years old, was still developing in the teachings of Hillel and Shammai when this question was brought to Jesus.
  • Edersheim (Life and Times of Jesus The MESSIAH, page 545) astutely remarks that Jews upset with the 12 apostles who ate without ceremonial washing would really be upset over the more than 5,000 who thus ate on the previous evening!
  • Did Jesus sanction this violation of tradition? If he did, then he, too, is guilty. If guilty, then he cannot be the messiah. Perhaps this explains the bluntness of his reply.
  • Isaiah 29:13. Hypocrites elevate human tradition and ignore Scripture. What is important to you?
  • Herod executed John the Baptist to keep a vow. Jesus condemns those who keep vows and break commandments.
  • When tradition is more important than scripture, our worship is vain.