Dishman Baptist Church
Trading the Word for Tradition
  • This Is The Day
  • Here Is Love
  • 'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus (Trust In Jesus)
  • Be Thou My Vision
      • Psalms 119.129-132CSB

      • Psalms 119.133-136CSB

  • Introduction

    Good morning! Please open your Bibles with me to our passage today in Mark 7.
    Everything we need for matters of faith and practice, for holiness and godliness in the sight of God has been provided for us. Isn’t that a comforting thought? A debt we could never repay was was reconciled to God’s by His own good pleasure. Jesus, the Word made flesh came to us to show that are indeed sinners with no hope of atoning for our own sin - but freely offers the gift of salvation to those who believe the good news and repent from their sins.
    This is a pretty thick way to begin the sermon today, but I start with this because of it’s importance. We learn all these truths through the Word of God. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives. It is sufficient for everything we need and does not need human help. There are a lot of people who believe that being a good person is all you need to get to heaven. But how good is good enough? How righteous do we need to be in order to merit God’s forgiveness. These are answers that are made abundantly clear in the Word of God. When we allow the tradition of “being a good person” to block our view of who God is, we only introduce confusion and chaos unnecessarily. God’s Word offers clear teaching if we would allow God to speak for himself. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives.
    Our passage today shows Jesus being charged by the Pharisees for not teaching his disciples to obey the traditions of the Jewish ancestors. Then Jesus gives a counter-charge to the Pharisees and Scribes: that it was, in fact, they who were at fault for placing the oral law and traditions above God’s Word. Then, Jesus gives gives a sharp rebuke, a censure because of the hardness of heart they had towards the Word in favor of their tradition. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives.
    For those of you who are avid note takers and want to get a head start, our outline will take us through three points, the Charge, the Counter-Charge and the Censure.
    Outline:
    The Charge
    The Counter-Charge
    The Censure
    Please read with me in Mark 7, verses 1-13.
    Mark 7:1–13 CSB
    1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. 2 They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?” 6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands. 8 Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.” 9 He also said to them, “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’ ” (that is, an offering devoted to God), 12 “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”

    The Charge

    As we come to our first point, we see Mark setting the scene by showing us who is involved. Throughout Mark’s gospel, Jerusalem is seen as place in tension with our Lord. It is fitting that Mark includes where these Pharisees and Scribes come from - Jerusalem. Read weith me in verse 1.
    Mark 7:1 CSB
    1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him.
    We know at this point in Mark’s narrative that the Pharisees and Scribes already wanted Jesus dead (Mark 3:4-6). So why would they gather around someone they despised so vehemently? Maybe it was to do what the Pharisees did best: to find fault in people. They were there looking specifically to find something, anything that would give them the upper hand with Jesus. Read with me again, in verse 2 through 5.
    Mark 7:2–5 CSB
    2 They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?”
    They see some of his disciples eating without the ceremonial washing and bring it straight to Jesus. There are a few things to look at here:
    1. Why did they go to Jesus instead of confronting his disciples directly?
    2. What’s the big deal with ceremonial washing anyways?
    In the grand scheme of things, the Pharisees did not have a chip on their shoulders for Jesus’ disciples, but rather for Jesus himself. What they were doing was accusing him, as their leader, of not teaching them what he ought to be teaching them (which in their opinion was oral law – the traditions of the elders). And this ties into the second question, what is the big deal with ceremonial washing anyways? The way the Jewish people viewed what was expected of them, if they were to be considered “good Jewish people,” was to follow the Law. “The Law” as the Jews of Jesus’ day referred to it had two parts, the written law and the oral law. The lines between the written law and the oral law had become horribly, and woefully skewed.
    To understand what is happening here, perhaps a quick study of the construct of the historical Jewish faith would be helpful. Originally, God gave the Law through Moses and they had the written law. This is what they refer to as the Torah, (Hebrew for Law, or Instruction). It makes up what we consider to be the first five books of the “Old Testament.” As other writings eventually made it through the Jewish canon, two more groups of writings were put into collections: first, the Nevi’im (Hebrew for “prophets”) and then the Ketuvim (Hebrew for “writings”). When you have the Torah, Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim, you have the larger collection known as the Tanakh, where the T, N and K are an acronym spelling out in Hebrew, Tanakh.
    After the written law, specifically the Torah was established people with what were probably honorable intentions started finding ways to make sure they were not violating God’s written law, so they developed a system amongst themselves with requirements that went above and beyond what God had established so they would be as above reproach as possible. Sounds great in theory, right? Any great idea can come under abuses and become a horrible burden. As the generations came and went, this system would eventually become known as the oral law. These sayings and traditions as they are being referred to in our passage today would eventually be written down and be referred to as the Mishnah. The Mishnah, or the oral law, combined with the Gomera, the Rabbinic Commentary on the oral law, would eventually be combined and comprise what is known today as the Talmud. So the Talmud is the Mishnah and the Gomera put together, not unlike our Old and New Testaments. What we know as the Old Testament, or rather the Tanakh, and the Talmud are the two texts that the Jewish people would come to refer to in matters of faith and practice. Unfortunately, the historic Jewish faith has drifted more toward the Talmud than the Torah - more towards the traditions of their ancestors than the Words of God Himself.
    By the point our passage takes place in history, the Talmud had not yet been completely established, but it’s teachings were already a definite influence over the Jewish people. So much so that what had originally been intended to be a good thing by helping people to obey God’s law began to spiral and spiral until it became more than God’s own Word itself to the people of God. Notice how the Pharisee questioned about why the disciples weren’t obeying the written law, but rather the oral law? They were on a mission to reveal something about Jesus, but what ultimately happened is that they revealed something about themselves. They valued the written law very little compared to the oral law, or the traditions of their fathers. They were more interested in the outward appearance of piety than actual faith in God.
    One lesson we can take from this is the example of the Pharisees: If you seek to find fault with someone else, prepare to have your own faults looked at. How often do we point the finger at others for sins we consider to be horrible, like sex outside of marriage, getting a divorce or alcohol abuse and yet turn to slander these people and so sin ourselves? Remember what Jesus teaches in
    Matthew 7:1 CSB
    1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.
    Can we think of a time where we looked at someone else’s faults and and ended up learning more about our own sinfulness in the process? How about driving in traffic? We get “righteously indignant with those who are on the phone while they are driving but we don’t seem to care that we drive over the speed limit when it suits us. There are times to confront others in their sin, but that is a specific process and is supposed to take place within the church as it is taught in Matthew 18. It is intended not to shame the person, but rather to restore them and walk with them as they deal with sin in their lives.
    Judging another person has more to do with mistaking our own preferences for scriptural issues. How many of us look at music with an idea of what the Bible expects from our musical style in the church? Or how about the role of the pastor? We have ideas of what they should be doing and somehow our ideas begin to carry the same weight as the Bible. Our passage today is essentially an illustration of that: the Pharisees had an opinion that Jesus had to teach the traditions of the Jewish elders or he was in sin. As they adopted their own opinion and tried to hold Jesus to that standard, He brought them back to the Word of God. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives.
    Judging others also has more to do with the idea of thinking more of ourselves than we ought, or less than others than we ought to. I always come back to notion found in
    Matthew 23:12 CSB
    12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
    The intent of the Pharisee’s and Scribe’s hearts was evil – they preyed upon an innocent man - pointing out what they thought were faults so they could keep the status quo, keep their position of power over the people. But Jesus would answer their charge with a counter-charge that would leave them speechless. In their desire to point out Jesus’ faults, they really exposed their own sin of having allowed the Word of God to take a back seat to their traditions. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives.

    The Counter-Charge

    Read with me again in verses 6 through 8.
    Mark 7:6–8 CSB
    6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands. 8 Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.”
    Jesus is the master at bringing people to the Word to make his point. Here, he declares that this prophesy found in Isaiah 29:13 was written about these religious leaders of Israel. This prophesy includes both the symptoms and the disease itself. The symptom is that their worship of God is tainted in that they only honor God with their lips - they don’t really love God. The disease is that they have elevated their own ideas above the Word of God. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives. What Jesus is revealing is that this is more than just a preference issue, but is, indeed, a heart issue.
    There are times we come across a teaching in God’s Word we don’t understand, we don’t like or even read and have no intention to follow. Lets be honest, how many of us smirk as we glance over Jesus’ commands not to gossip and think to ourselves, “Yeah right!?”
    I remember really struggling in my younger Christian walk with the Bible’s teaching on women in ministry because I grew up in a denomination that ordained women as pastors but I read in scripture verses that contradicted that position. I remember thinking that the Bible’s teaching was antiquated and had become culturally irrelevant in this issue. But praise God for using Godly people around me to teach me that His Word is never irrelevant. It wasn’t until the painful process of learning enough humility to consider the God was right and that I was wrong did studying theology actually start to make sense. When God’s Word is seen for what it truly is, the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, He can take souls on the very precipice of Hell and turn them around for His glory. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives.
    An article I read recently said this,
    “Every time {we disagree with Scripture}, we are faced with a choice: Do we try and bend our understanding of God to match our thinking, or do we change our thinking to match what God has revealed? Do we reserve for ourselves the right to be the final authority on how the world should work, or are we willing to humble ourselves and take God's Word as the standard?”
    Do we suffer from the same disease as the Pharisees and Scribes? Are we elevating our own preferences over the Word of God? Do we look at the way our leaders in the government do or say something and think evil thoughts about them and lead ourselves to sin? How about members of our own family? With the quarantine and overall social/political/economic climate in our country, tensions at home can be running high. Are we demanding to have our own way or, with humility, think more about your spouse or your children than you do about getting your own way? The Word of God teaches us how to interact with one another, but when we let our own preferences or our own ideas take precedence over the Word, we are opening ourselves to sin and those around us to hurt. Praise the Lord that He is able to take hardened stone hearts so affected by the curse of Sin and transform them to softened hearts of flesh. He takes this matter very seriously! The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives. His counter-charge against the Pharisees and Scribes would lead to a censure - a sharp and pointed rebuke.

    The Censure

    Read with me again starting in verse 9. Mark 7, verse 9.
    Mark 7:9–13 CSB
    9 He also said to them, “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’ ” (that is, an offering devoted to God), 12 “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
    There is a lot in these few verses that shed light on just how wicked the situation had become. First, Jesus reiterates his counter-charge on the Pharisees and scribes. The Greek word for “invalidate” carries a wide range of meaning. It can mean nullify, reject, or ignore. It is the same word used to describe the Pharisees in
    Luke 7:30 CSB
    30 But since the Pharisees and experts in the law had not been baptized by him, they rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
    This was Jesus’ counter-charge against them - they said he ignored the Oral Law, and He said the Ignored, invalidated and nullified the Word of God in favor for their tradition - the Oral Law.
    He then goes on to give an example that perfectly exegetes the intentions of the Pharisees and Scribes.
    Mark 7:10 CSB
    10 For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.
    Here, Jesus quotes two Old Testament passages, one from Exodus 21:17 and the other from Leviticus 20:9. Both of these passages are in the Torah - which should be their source of “the Final word” on any matter of faith and practice. This is the standard we are held to today - no matter what the situation is, God’s Word gets the final say.
    Yet, the Jews had allowed their tradition to trump God’s Word in a despicable way.
    Mark 7:11–12 CSB
    11 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’ ” (that is, an offering devoted to God), 12 “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.
    When someone declared resources “Corban,” whether they be financial or material, or otherwise, they were essentially off limits to everyone. However, it was not set in stone. This loophole allowed someone to keep the resources God had given them and essentially freeze those assets until they announced them “not Corban.” So someone could announce all their money Corban until their parents die, take back the declaration of corban, andhave successfully circumnavigated their responsibility to their parents. It was a way to get passed the regulation established in the Law that said it is our duty to honor our parents. When they would reach a certain age, in Jewish society, it was their children’s job to provide for them financially - that was their retirement plan! This corban rule allowed people to seriously dishonor and disrespect their parents - according to the Law, they should have been put to death. But what the Pharisees had establish was a rule that would potentially land part of that nest-egg into the coffers at the temple. But more than that - notice in verse 12 Jesus says that they would not let him do anything for his parents - until the corban vow was renounced, this persons resources were essentially frozen. He didn’t even have access to them. They didn’t automatically go to the Temple’s treasury, but rather would be held and used for whatever the person deemed to be work for the Lord.
    This is where Jesus censures the Scribes and Pharisees:
    Mark 7:13 CSB
    13 You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
    Here, Jesus categorically releases Jewish believers from the burden of following the Oral Law. Understand, the oral law for a Jewish person is much more than commands, but it has engrained itself largely into part of what it means to be Jewish.
    It would be the same for us if we were told that we no longer had an obligation to follow the speed limit - as drivers, we should focus a lot on the posted speed limit signs, right? Remove those and there is a perception of chaos. To a Jewish person, removing the Oral Law could be seen in the same way.
    From our vantage point in history, it is very easy to pass judgment on Jews in biblical times for not shedding the Oral Law and experiencing the freedom of grace the Lord offers. This is not just a small matter - to the Jewish reader, this is monumental! He closes the loopholes the Jewish elders had put in place to get around the instruction given by God through His Word.
    A heart that looks for loopholes in God’s Word is a heart distanced from God Himself.
    A heart that ignores God’s Word is a heart distanced from God Himself.
    Remember the words of God when He commissioned Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land?
    Joshua 1:8 CSB
    8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.
    Notice how God didn’t say, meditate on your thoughts or feelings of my Word, but rather “This book of Instruction (or the LAW) must not depart from youth mouth” and “meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it”?
    Here, Jesus exposes the fact that the Oral Law had taken a place of prominence over the Word of God - revealing their hearts distanced from God.
    Now, I am not advocating or implying that this is a matter of trading bad legalism for good legalism, what I this passage is referring to is a matter of the heart. Do our hearts yearn and cry to be close to the Lord? Closeness to the Lord is consistently listening to what he has to say and letting that permeate our lives.
    So what does this look like in our lives? Spending intentional, consistent time with the Lord in the Word and in prayer. For many of us, this is a labor of love as it is not our natural tendency. We live in a culture where busy-ness is king and our time can be an idol. We almost don’t feel productive unless we are running a million miles an hour with our hair on fire, trying to figure out how to get everything done that we need to get done. We also don’t want anything to interfere with the plans we make for our time - and please note, I am speaking as much to myself as I am anyone here. We subconsciously prioritize Facebook, movies, “rest and relaxation,” our jobs, our families over our devotion to the Lord by pouring over the love letter of His Word. And we are silly to think this is wise. Only when God has his rightful place as our highest priority does everything else in our lives fall into line. God wants our devotion and focus to be on Him, not because He is selfish, but rather because He loves us and knows what is best for us. His desire is that we follow after Him so that our path can illuminated by His Word. We seek after purpose, but ignore the Word. We seek after meaning, while only reading our Bibles on Sundays. God wants the absolute best for us, and because we are tainted by the stain of sin, we are incapable of achieving what that is on our own. We need God to speak to us and guide us. He no longer employs prophets, but rather the printing press to get His Word into the hands of those who would seek after him. Our job is simple - do not let anything stand between us and the Word of God.

    Conclusion

    I want to invite you this morning to consider this: Is there anything you have allowed to become a barrier between you and the Word of God? In the last week or so, the lead singer for the Christian band “Hawk Nelson” renounced his faith, citing his inability to understand some questions that would be made abundantly clear had he only allowed himself to open the Word and allowed God alone to speak for God. Crises of faith are real, and I don’t want anyone to get the impression that getting into the Word will solve every single problem you could ever face - I want you to understand that everything we need to know for faith and practice, to live godly lives through Christ by faith is given to us in His Holy Word. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives. Jesus’ message to the Pharisees was that it was wrong for them to prioritize anything else before His Word. So whether it is our own ideas of morality or thinking that we just have to be good people to be okay with God, thereby making a gospel for yourself out of your own ideals, allow God to speak for Himself and listen to what He has to say. Don’t blindly follow teachings and traditions, but be a student of the Word yourself. If you find a part of Scripture you disagree with or don’t understand, don’t throw in the towel and walk away! Press in to Jesus through the Word and in prayer. Don’t allow your traditions, or extrabiblical junk defile your faith by removing the authority of God from your faith. The Word of God is to have the highest prominence in our lives.
    If anything I have said has struck a nerve, or you would like to discuss anything further, please feel free to email or call us here at the church. Our phone number is (509) 926-0575, Pastor Chris’ email is cpawlowski@dhismanbaptist.org and mine is cevans@dishmanbaptist.org. We are slowly getting back to a regular schedule in the office and would love to talk about anything on your heart or mind. If you are watching online and would like to talk, feel free to reach out to us through social media as well.
    Let’s pray.
      • Mark 7:1–13CSB

      • Mark 7:1CSB

      • Mark 7:2–5CSB

      • Matthew 7:1CSB

      • Matthew 23:12CSB

      • Mark 7:6–8CSB

      • Mark 7:9–13CSB

      • Luke 7:30CSB

      • Mark 7:10CSB

      • Mark 7:11–12CSB

      • Mark 7:13CSB

      • Joshua 1:8CSB

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