The Teaching of
1About this time some Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses came from Jerusalem. They asked Jesus, 2“Why don't your disciples obey what our ancestors taught us to do? They don't even wash their hands before they eat.”
Why do you disobey God and follow your own teaching? 4 Didn't God command you to respect your father and mother? Didn't he tell you to put to death all who curse their parents? 5But you let people get by without helping their parents when they should. You let them say that what they have has been offered to God. 6Is this any way to show respect to your parents? You ignore God's commands in order to follow your own teaching. 7And you are nothing but show-offs! Isaiah the prophet was right when he wrote that God had said,
8 “All of you praise me
with your words,
but you never really
think about me.
9It is useless for you
to worship me,
when you teach rules
made up by humans.”
What event prompted the Pharisees to ambush Jesus and his disciples? According to Matthew’s chronology, the only recorded event involving food that they could be referring to was the feeding of the 5,000. Their response to one of Jesus’ most astounding miracles was an accusation related to meal etiquette.
How did they get it so wrong? Jesus, quoting from Isaiah 29:13, says that just like their forefathers, their heart was far from him. As their hearts hardened, they nullified the Word of God, and in so doing, they nullified their own worship.
The Pharisees’ failure to obey the fifth commandment was symptomatic of their failure to obey what Jesus calls the most important commandment: “So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37) They really couldn’t love others because they really didn’t love God.
It’s easy to fault the Pharisees, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re prone to unhealthy spiritual practices as well:
- We read God’s Word just for knowledge rather than mining for application.
- Our practice of the faith turns to dogma like old wineskins that can’t tolerate new wine.
- We grumble over trivialities and miss the work of God.
Ironically, our hearts can even harden while engaging in God’s work. It happened to the twelve disciples as they worked with Jesus (Mark 6:52, 8:17).
There is no room for a hardened heart in God’s kingdom. God desires to “take away your stubborn heart and give you a new heart and a desire to be faithful. You will have only pure thoughts, because I will put my Spirit in you and make you eager to obey my laws and teachings.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
How far has your heart drifted from your first love? Will you allow the Spirit within you to give you a new heart that can faithfully serve him?
Jealous God, you demand all of my love. Give me a new heart that loves you above all, a desire to be faithful to my first love and an eagerness to apply your Word. Then my worship will no longer be hollow. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.