Chronological Gospels: Matthew 15; Mark 7
This week as we dive into the gospels, we head into Matthew 15 and Mark 7 where we catch up with Jesus and one of His conversations with the Pharisees. John the Baptist has recently been beheaded, the Pharisees are hunting for ways to entrap Jesus, and Jesus has just performed the miracle of feeding the five-thousand with the loaves and fish.
The Pharisees here call out the disciples for not holding to the traditions of the elders, as they call it. In the Jewish culture, tradition was extremely important. They all held to the traditions that had been passed down from generation to generation. One such tradition was a ceremonial washing of hands before eating. To us washing hands before eating sounds simple enough, especially in a world over two years into a pandemic, but in this time it was ceremonial – not just for washing the dirt and grime off of your hands. The Pharisees were not talking about physical cleanness but were pointing out that the disciples were not holding to a tradition for ceremonial cleanness.
Do you have certain traditions you and/or your family follow? Describe some of them and where they came from.
I love Jesus’s response here. His responses are always an opportunity for us to learn something. Here, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees because they are touting that the disciples are not following a man-made tradition, yet the Pharisees are not upholding God-given commands. They are choosing to put their own traditions over God.
Thinking about your own traditions again, how do these traditions coordinate with God’s commands for your life? Are they complimentary or contradictory?
Jesus’s response to the Pharisees should cause us to evaluate our own routines, traditions, and intentions behind them. We should take the time to filter all of our habits, routines, and traditions through God’s Word to make sure they don’t take hold a higher place in our lives than God’s commands, but also to ensure they don’t contradict God’s Word.
We have to be willing to put aside man-made for God-commanded. Our intentions matter, and keeping God first takes intention and effort. Our intentions are known by God, and if our intentions are wrong it will come out of our hearts. If our heart is misaligned and not founded on Christ our hearts are defiled and that will flow out of us.
What areas of your life do you need to realign with God’s Word and commands?
Right after this, we see the gentile woman come to Jesus and beg His help. This image is so important at this moment in the story. The Pharisees, those who the Jewish people looked to for spiritual wisdom and guidance, were just called out for being “blind guides”. Now we see Jesus praise a gentile woman, an outsider, someone the Jewish people would have seen as an enemy of God in those times, praised for her faith and her child healed of a demon.
Jesus seeks to save ALL who will come to Him and have faith in Him. No matter your background, family, experiences, or sins He wants you to come to Him, trust in Him, and receive salvation through faith in Him.
Take some time to consider what you have not felt like you can bring to God. What is stopping you from trusting Him fully? What burden feels too heavy to be forgiven? Pray over it this week.