Lesson 197 and 198-September 15 and 22, 2019
Audio lesson 197
‘Audio lesson 198
Lesson: “Looking Good on the Outside, Rotten on the Inside”
Scripture: Mark 7:1-13
Lesson Goal: To see and understand the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes in circumventing the Law of God with their own man made traditions.
Introduction: In today’s lesson we move chronologically in the life and ministry of Jesus to the New Tes- tament books of Matthew and Mark. Please read Matthew 15:1-20 and Mark 7:1-23.
David Platt-”It may surprise you to find out that some of the biggest threats to faithful discipleship come from highly esteemed religious traditions. The road we’re on may be marked ‘narrow’, but looks can be deceiving. We often fail to identify evil because we associate it with a pitchfork, but Satan is usually more subtle than that. Our adversary disguises himself as an angel of light, Paul tells in (2 Corinthians 11:14). And while some of our practices and traditions have a ‘reputation of wisdom’, being a scrupulous rule-keeper in religion doesn’t necessarily equate with godliness (Colossians 2:23). If Satan can’t trip us up with outright immorality, he is more than happy to use seemingly good things to direct our attention away from Christ and the gospel. The Pharisees in Jesus day presented just such a danger. They put on a good show, but Jesus’ piercing gaze saw right though their flesh-fueled holiness. As we look at Matthew 15, we should be reminded that Jesus sees right through ours as well.”
Again Jesus finds Himself under the investigating eyes of the Pharisees. This newly arrived delegation of Pharisees are determined to take Jesus to task about His disciples disregard of the oral traditions and rituals. Matthew and Mark both write concerning theses events.
(v1) Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. This is not the first time Jesus has faced this type of opposition. (Please read Mark 2:23-24; 3:6; 3:22). These Phari- sees and scribes that had come from Jerusalem were continuing their efforts to find fault and cast religious doubt on Jesus. They were the “religious hit men” of the day. They were looking for fault in Him and His manner of teaching, viewing Him through their own self-righteous, prideful, religious positions and prestige. They simply were on a fault finding mission looking for something that they could criticize.
(v2) Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.
“Unable to overcome Jesus directly, their (Pharisees and scribes) tactics shifted to the disciples. They were sure that the disciples were the weak point in Jesus’ defense.” (Life Application Bible Commentary)
Again to better help us with our understanding it is very beneficial to remember what miracle had just recently occurred. No doubt t was still being talked about in the conversations of the day. Thousands on that day had not ceremonially washed their hands before eating the fish and bread.
With Jesus increasing popularity among the people, the religious authorities in Jerusalem were becoming more disturbed. Once again an assigned delegation of religious rulers and authorities were sent to watch and investi- gate Him. It is upon Jesus’ disciples that the straining eyes of the Pharisees and scribes are cast.
“defiled”-ritualistic defilement caused by having touched something unclean.
“unwashed hands”-not anything to do with personal hygiene but with ceremonial cleaning.
“The minimum amount of water to be used was a quarter of a log, enough to fill one and half egg shells. The
water was poured on both hands, held with the fingers pointed upwards and it must run down the arm as far as the wrist and drop off the wrist, for the water was now itself unclean, having touched the unclean hands. And it it ran down the fingers again it would render them unclean. The process was repeated with hands held in the downward direction, the fingers pointing down. And finally each hand was cleaned by being rubbed with the fist of the other. A strict Jew would do this before every meal and between every course in every
Mark in verses 3 and 4 gives explanation to the rationale and actions of the Pharisees.
(vv3-4) For the Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless they washed their hands in a special way, holding the traditions of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper ves- sels, and couches.
For the Pharisees and religious leaders of this day had become enslaved to religious rituals and legalistic tradi- tions. The sadness of this was the fact that the Pharisees were blind to their own self induced and self imposed bondage. They were slaves to their own religious pride.
Charles Spurgeon is reported to have facetiously asked his congregation one Sunday morning this question, “If there was no Sunday morning service at eleven, how many of you would be Christians?”
In Spurgeon’s question there is much wisdom, knowledge, and challenge, Spurgeon found that in his day and we know it to be true in our day, that when a ritualistic tradition is questioned or challenged, people often treat such things (11:00 worship time) as holy, sacred, and divine.
(v5) Then the Pharisees and scribes ask Him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
Notice that when Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees and scribes they did not question the disciples con- formity to Moses and the law but rather their conformity to the traditions of the elders.
“Traditional rites and restrictions stood higher in the esteem of the Jews than the Scriptures. Where Scripture and tradition seemed opposed the latter was treated as the higher authority.” (Shephard)
(vv6-8) He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written ‘This peo- ple honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doc- trines the commandments of God, you hold the tradition of men-the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
In Jesus’ response to the Pharisees and scribes, we see Jesus quoting from Isaiah and making reference to the Law of Moses (v10). Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 calling attention to their hypocrisy and those who were merely concerned with external observation but did not truthfully look at the internal (the heart). The Pharisees and scribes might say all the right words of religion and give lip service to God but their hearts were far from God.
The Pharisees worshipped for appearance sake, not out of love for God. They appeared to be! Appear- ance can be very misleading!
(vv9-13) He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradi- tion. For Moses said ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, He who curses father and mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, ‘whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift to God). “then, you no longer let him do anything for this father or his mother, mak- ing the word of God of no effect through your traditions which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
A. T. Robertson stated, “the strong contrast between the command of God and the traditions of men. They
think they are traditions of men. They think they are establishing the command of God, protecting it. In actu- ality they are rejecting God’s commands, and in the process they establish their traditions as if they were God’s commands. They set aside what is the revealed Word of God and replace it with made up traditions of men.”
Jesus settles the issue with His example of how they manipulate God’s Word to their own advantage and self interests. We find Jesus’ basis in Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16 and then we find further explanation in Exodus 21:17 and Leviticus 20:9.
But for their own advantage the Pharisees created a “theological loophole.” Daniel Akin writes, “they simply declared what they would have given to their parents ‘Corban”, a Hebrew term referring to a gift dedicated to God. This allowed them to dishonor their parents by neglecting their needs, but they could still feel good about it because it was done in service to God.”
The Pharisees had found a way to sidestep the Law of God to honor parents. A man could simply take the “Corban” vow, saying that all his money was dedicated to God. He could still use it any way he chose, but could use his Corban vow as an excuse not to help his parents in need. This had become a traditional way (religiously acceptable) way to dishonor and neglect one’s parents. The (Pharisees) had manipulated the com- mandment of God by their own selfish traditions.
The Pharisees and scribes looked good on the outside but were rotten on the inside.
Before we close our books, we could all benefit from a godly Holy Spirit self-examination. Does your reli- gious (outward) appearance match the internal (heart) real you? Does your religious appearance represent your true heart?
(v14) When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear me , everyone and understand.
“Christ turned from addressing the Pharisees to speak to the crowd. He used this confrontation as an oppor- tunity to teach them what constituted uncleanliness in the sight of God. The Pharisees considered themselves to be clean within and therefore wholly acceptable to God. According to their thinking, only that which touched them from outside could render them unclean and defiled in the sight of God. Christ repudiated that this erroneous doctrine and taught that the seat of uncleanliness and defilement is not external but internal (Mark 7:15). (Pentecost)
(v15) There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are things that defile a man.
Jesus turns his attention to those that are gathered and basically tells them to “listen up”, for He wants to set the record straight. He wants to refute the errors of the Pharisees by offering the truth concerning uncleanli- ness and defilement. The Pharisees had missed it! Jesus makes it very clear that uncleanliness comes from within man and not as a result of what touches a man from without. Spiritual defilement is a matter of what’s on the inside of man not the outside. “The practice of washing your hands before you eat has nothing to do with making you undefiled. What matters is what’s in your heart. It is the evil in the heart, which eventually proceeds out of the mouth that defiles the man.”
“The expression ‘proceeds out of the mouth’ (Matthew 15:11) ties in closely with the idea of not eating with unwashed hands. But Jesus was referring, not simply to what a person says but also to what he thinks and does. In the parallel passage in Mark’s gospel, Jesus says, ‘but the things that come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.’ A person’s defiled heart is expressed both in what he says and in what he does; but the mouth is the more dominant reveler of internal pollution, because it is through our words that hatred, de- ception, cruelty, blasphemy, and most other evils are most clearly manifest.” (MacArthur)
came and said to Him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Question: What does the question asked by the disciples to Jesus convey to us concerning the disciples?
Please read Matthew 23:13-30.
The truth will always be offensive to the hypocrite! Not only does the truth offer the opportunity to set one free but for the hypocrite, truth rips off the mask of hypocrisy exposing the evil darkness to the light. Matthew offers the detail of God’s Judgment toward this hypocrisy in 15:13-14.
(v17) When He entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. (Matthew 15:15, Peter on behalf of the disciples sought more explanation).
(v18) So He said to them, Are you thus without understanding also?
You still don’t get it! They (the disciples) were having a difficult time understanding. So the Lord offers them instruction and explanation.
(vv18b-23) Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, “because it does not enter his heart but his stomach and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, forni- cations, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolish- ness. Al these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Wiersbe writes, “Jesus explanation seems obvious, but we must remember that those twelve men had been brought up under the strict Jewish dietary code that categorized all foods as either, ‘clean or’ ‘unclean.’” When we look through the book of Acts we find Peter still struggling with this idea (Acts 10:14). Please note Mark’s words (7:19b).
Religious traditions are not easily changed!
Mark Dever calls (vv21-23) “the fingers of sin.” These things are the evidences of a defiled, corrupt heart. The fruit of sin (vv21-23) are the results of the root (heart) of sin. These evils, evil action arise from ones heart.
The only cure for man’s defilement is the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Cleansing” can only come by the blood of Jesus Christ offered on our behalf. Only then can we become pure before God.