Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.'” Matthew 14:1-9
Once again we see the religious leaders confront Jesus in what they consider a sin.
Jesus pushed back harder with two examples of their own hypocrisy and godlessness. He quoted Isaiah to bolster His words.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus came down hard on the religious leaders because they should have known better. They elevated their own traditions over the Word of God. They wrote laws around the original laws so that no one would come close to breaking the original laws. They then elevated their laws to have the same authority as the original laws and commandments.
The phrases “their hearts are far from me” and “their teachings are merely human rules” must have stung. He called them out, told them why they were hypocrites, and backed it up with Scripture they would have accepted as authority.
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.”
We’ve seen this behavior in many of our churches. In fact Pastors joke about the phenomena in the pulpit, “worship God on Sunday, and live like the devil the rest of the week.”
The commitment to honor God in word and deed must come daily, hourly even.
It’s not an easy task, this Christian life we live.
We face many obstacles and hurdles and battles just to live decent lives and provide for our families.
But God the Father is on our side. Jesus is cheering us on. And the Holy Spirit lives in us to help enable us to live a godly life in Christ.
Daily, hourly, minute-by-minute commitment. If God, therefore, is for us, who can be against us?
The God of the universe is on our side.
How I long to have that concept etched in the forefront of my soul!