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Mark 7:1-23 – In Vain Do They Worship Me: Meditative Musing for Dec 2


“Pharisee” today means “hypocrite.” It was not always so. In Jesus’ day, Pharisees were highly regarded as devout guardians of Jewish orthodoxy.

That’s why they asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples violate the traditions of the fathers” by eating with unwashed hands. Jesus responded with a question of His own: “Why do you violate the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” And, He gave an example. God said to honor your parents; you say that if you have pledged to the Temple, that pledge overcomes your obligation to parents. Edersheim, the Messianic Jewish commentator, documents a case confirming this very thing.

It was in this connection that Jesus said, “In vain do you worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

“Doctrines of men” here were not innovations in worship – but doctrines permitting a life-style in violation of the Ten Commandments. The Pharisees had the rituals of worship down pat. Where they failed was in living the life God called His people to live. This made their worship of God empty. As Jesus asked another time, “Why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I say?”

To worship God as God means we seek also to follow His teaching about life. Otherwise, the worship is empty. Why empty? Because our hearts are not right with Him if we do not obey Him in life.

Do we worship God in vain by not living for Him? (Click here for more on this passage.)

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