Mark 7:8-9 (ESV) — “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”
Many people today treat Jesus as the grandparent who spoils you to death without ever getting on to you. When I reflect on my grandmother’s doting and pampering of me as a kid, I barely have any memories of ever getting in trouble. I got in plenty of trouble at home and school, but not at Gan’s house. She never disciplined me for anything or got on to me for anything.
This is how many people think about Jesus. They believe he is the sweet grandma who only pampers you, and never demands anything of you. But a quick reading of the Scriptures reveals a very different Jesus. Yes, Jesus loves us and is a friend to us. But throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, we see him confront people (especially religious leaders) over their sins.
Our passage today is an example of this. He says in Mark 7:8-9, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” Notice that Jesus criticizes how they neglect what God says and enforce what they say. They ignore God’s commands and elevate their own ideas.
The traditions that Jesus is criticizing them for are those things that are extra-biblical. These traditions went beyond what Scripture taught and added responsibilities and expectations on people. The problem was they didn’t pay attention to the things actually taught in Scripture. It is easy for us to do the same. One of the consistent sins we commit today is elevating our own ideas, standards, and codes of ethics, while minimizing or neglecting God’s. We have more zeal for our own word than we do God’s Word. Jesus says they were experts in setting aside God’s commands. We are all experts in rebellion. This is why repentance is a normal practice of the Christian life.
Reflection & Journal:
- What were the religious leaders in the passage guilty of? What are example of this today?
- Why do you think it is easier for us to be zealous for our own law over God’s law?
- Where should we turn to when we find ourselves struggling with sin?
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