February 16, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

The stinging rebuke of Jesus was justified by the truth of God’s Word. There are several lessons to be learned from Jesus’ response, but the central lesson is His high regard for Scriptural truth. When tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4), each temptation was countered by the truth of God’s Word. The same is true here with the ministers of Satan - the scribes and Pharisees.

To ‘transgress’ is to sin against God by willfully going counter to His Word. It is knowing what God has said but countering it by what man says. It is to say that the traditions of men are more important and authoritative than the truth of God’s Word. That’s the heart of the traditions of the elders.

The Jews hated the Samaritans not only because they were the product of mixed marriages with Gentiles, but also because they violated the Word of God by choosing what they would honor and what they would ignore. Jesus simply pointed out that the scribes and Pharisees were just as guilty of sin in that regard. The example He used was the 5th Commandment that taught that we are to honor and respect our parents, especially by helping them when they are in need.

The tradition of the elders stated that a Jew could declare all his possessions as korban, a gift to God and unavailable for any other use. If a parent, or anyone else for that matter, needed financial or material assistance, and came to his/her son asking for help, he could refuse to give that help by declaring his resources korban. On the other hand, if that same Jews needed those resources for personal use, he could declare those resources a gift from God and available to him for use. When the need was satisfied, he then could turn around and declare the remainder of his resources as korban, a gift to God and unavailable for any other use.

In doing this Jesus declared the traditions of the Jews a violation of the Law of God, and those who practice those traditions as hypocrites.

“God forgive us for placing our personal practices, traditions, rituals, even our personal opinions above the truth of Your Word. Open our eyes to our own hypocrisy and cause us to repent of our greed and hard heartedness toward those we should be showing mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”


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