Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jesus challenges the Pharisees: Who You Come to See? Are You Displaying a Christ-like Disciple?

One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to – such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles). So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, ‘Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony” (Mark 7:1-5, NLT).
 Many were coming to “see” Jesus because they thought he might be the promised Messiah; some of these people were honest seekers who truly wanted to know him. Others weren’t quite as involved, but they came with good motives, too, wanting to see the one who was teaching, healing, and changing lives. But these religious leaders came “to see Jesus” and then the next verse says, “they noticed.” They, however, were neither seeking information nor merely satisfying their curiosity. They actually came to scrutinize Jesus as they tried to find fault in order to judge and silence him. Unable to discover anything wrong with Jesus’ actions, they turned to his followers and “noticed that some of his disciples” hadn’t washed their hands before eating.

After seeing the non-traditional actions, the religious leaders asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition?”  [I smiled] At least they were honest about the fact that this was their tradition, not a divine command, although they often gave their traditions and interpretations of Scripture almost the same authority as God’s Word. Since the common people did not follow all of the extra restrictions and rituals of the Pharisees, they considered them ignorant. The fact that Jesus’ disciples did not follow all of the laws of the Pharisees’ tradition led them to resent Jesus’ teachings and try to discredit him. According to the Pharisees, if Jesus were truly a rabbi, he and his disciples would follow all of the traditions. The Pharisees had religious blinders on their eyes, seeing only their own rituals and traditions.

Do you know? During the centuries since the Jews’ return from Babylonian captivity, Jewish religious leaders had added hundreds of religious traditions to God’s laws, regulating every part of Jewish life. The Pharisees and scribes considered these traditions to be as binding as God’s law itself. They were wrong, of course, as Jesus pointed out.

Think about this: Firstly, today people still come “to see Jesus” with a variety of motives. Some sincerely seek the Saviour. Many look with curiosity. But we still have cynics and critics who try to pick apart Jesus and his followers, looking for problems and negative evidence. Maybe it’s good to ask our own motive “to see Jesus,” it is mere curiosity? Find faults? Or really want to know the truth? What drew you to Jesus? How did you first come “to see” him?  Secondly, although the religious leaders’ attitudes and actions toward Jesus and the disciples were wrong, we know that in reality people often form their opinions about Jesus by watching his followers. As those called “Christians” (‘Christ-ones”), we bear his name and enhance or detract from his reputation. So, what opinion of Jesus do you think people might form just by watching you?

Please continue to read Mark 7:6-23 to know Jesus’ response.

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