Are you thirsty for more?
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:1-13
Jerusalem (the Pharisees and scribes) comes to Galilee, serving as foreshadowing what will happen in Judea; the passion of the Christ. The challenge du jour from these religious leaders; Jesus lets his disciples eat without ritually cleansing.
Jesus fires back by calling them hypocrites (ὑποκριτῶν means actor/pretender), linking these religious leaders to a prophecy from Isaiah 29:13 about tradition being more important than the Law itself. These traditions they speak are not in the Law but have been developed over time by the Pharisees.
But alas, there is more. The great rabbis during Jesus’ day would use a technique that would become known as “REMEZ.” They would use part of a Scripture passage in a discussion, assuming that their listeners knew what came next, allowing them to understand the fuller meaning of the teaching.
Here is a non-Biblical example to illustrate REMEZ: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide. No escape from reality…” Many of you know the following line “Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see…” But the title likely comes to mind (Bohemian Rhapsody), the band (Queen), and the tune. You may even know its history and what it means. Note: The subtitle of this bLOG is also a REMEZ!
So Jesus is likely using REMEZ here. His audience is scripturally literate, and by invoking Isaiah, the prophet of prophets, get their attention. But they would know that that sentence doesn’t end there. Here is the whole sentence:
And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29:13-14
So not only is Jesus pushing their buttons by calling them out as hypocrites, but he is also stating that he is doing wonderful things for the people, and the stuff these “wise men” of the day are saying will eventually fade away.
Then Jesus goes on to point out an example of their manufactured rules that get in the way of God’s commandments to love. He cites Exodus 20:12 about honoring (loving) your mother and father while slamming the regulations that cause them to neglect their mother and father.
But of course, that never happens with certain religious people of our day. Right?
Are your thirsty for more??
None of us are perfect. But help us to always look in the mirror and evaluate if our religious practices have actually taken the place of the Law of Love.
I pray in the name of a Merciful God. Amen!