Mere rule creating and mere rule keeping

Posted by admin on 24 January 2021 in Isaiah, Leviticus, Mark |

Mark 7:1-13

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus (Mark 7:1).

The Law in the Old Testament teaches “uncleanness and cleanness” in Leviticus 11-15 (relevant message).

Based on the law, they even created more rules (the tradition of the elders) to follow (e.g., hand washing) (Mark 7:3-4). They saw the disciples of Jesus did not follow their rules (Mark 7:2), and they criticised (Mark 7:5).

Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy and quoted Isaiah 29:13 (Mark 7:6).

‘ “These people honour me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain;

their teachings are merely human rules.”

The religious leaders’ outward appearance of piety was a lie. It was not accompanied by a lifestyle of true “heart” commitment to God. [2]

They were disobeying God’s commands in order to follow their own traditions (Mark 7:8-9, Mark 7:13). Jesus explained this with one example of ‘Corban’ (devoted to God) to disobey the 5th commandment (Honour your father and mother) among their many wrong practices (Mark 7:10-12).

The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.” This is a clear example of how the “traditions of the elders” had become more important than the law—God’s Word. [2]


[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] Cooper, R. L. (2000). Mark (Vol. 2, p. 119). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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