Mark 7 v 5 - 8

From a distance this may appear to be a storm in a tea cup, but it is highly important in the modern reader's understanding of the attitude of Jesus to Judaism. The Scribes and Pharisees approach Jesus directly to demand why His disciples did not observe the code of the oral Law. They quote no Bible passages for there are none, so Jesus responds by quoting a passage from Isaiah 29, accusing them of two things in particular:

1. He accused them of hypocrisy. Originally this was a term used in acting, describing a set dialogue, but then it became used, by extension, to mean one whose whole life is a piece of acting without any sincere motive behind it at all. When religion becomes something someone obeys externally without any thought to the heart, it is bound to end in hypocrisy. Goodness cannot solely be about actions! Jesus termed them in one conversation, ''Whitewashed sepulchres'' and this appeared to be an accurate summary of what they had become!

For us, church-going, Bible-reading, tithing and fasting, even regular prayers do not make us good. How are our hearts towards God is the fundamental question.

2. The second accusation Jesus levelled against the religious leaders was that they substituted the efforts of human ingenuity for the Laws of God. They didn't depend on listening to God for their guidance, but on listening to clever arguments and debates. True religion can never only spring from human thought, but must always come from listening to and accepting the voice of God. Is that what you are doing in your life?

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