“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
– Mark 7:8
This is a sting inditement from Jesus in Mark 7. He’s speaking to Pharisees and Scribes who’ve come to Jerusalem.
Mark 7:8 Shows Jesus confronting the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes
Those Pharisees and Scribes, these religious leaders were known for, watch this, strict adherence to traditions that they and those who had gone before them had developed. And right before this verse, when Jesus says, you leave the commandment of God on hold to the tradition of men, Jesus says to them, “Isaiah talked about you hypocrites, when he said ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me and they worship me in vain, because they teach as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
I just want to encourage us to think in our lives today. What traditions do we hold to? What commandments do we follow that don’t actually come from God? The things we do because we and those before us have decided we should do? It’s a helpful and humbling exercise to ask and answer those questions.
Maybe even right after this podcast episode is over, just continue in prayer for a moment. Ask God to open your eyes and to do the same in my eyes. What are we holding to that’s tradition or commandments of men that’s not a commandment from God? And it’s not that all traditions are bad or things that we do that don’t come directly from God are bad. But there is a sinful tendency that Jesus is pointing out here. We exalt our traditions and things we say we should do over the clear things God has commanded.
Mark 7:8 Reminds us to Prioritize obedience to God over Tradition
So God, we pray that you would help us. We don’t want it to be said of us that we leave your commandments and hold to our traditions. So please keep us from doing that. Please open our eyes to ways we are doing that in our lives, in our families, in our churches. God, we don’t want it to be said of us that we honor you with our lips, but our hearts are far from you, that we worship you in vain as we teach as doctrines, things we have made up or things we have decided we should do.
God, help us to humbly and immediately obey your word, to teach your word, to pass on your word, far more than we would pass on any tradition, no matter how good that tradition may be. Lord, we pray that your Word would be central in our lives and in our mouths and how we live and what we teach and what we pass on to others and what we pass on to the next generation.
God, we think about your clear command to make disciples of all the nations and how we do all kinds of things in the church that are not focused on making disciples of all the nations that we have exalted as traditional things for us to do that may even be keeping us from obeying your command. Lord help us. You never told us to construct buildings or organize programs, or do so many different things we do in the church.
Praying for the Priority of the Gospel Message
And God, we trust that buildings aren’t bad and our programs aren’t bad, but God help us to see that they’re good in so much as they enable us to carry out the clear command you’ve given us to make disciples of all the nations. God, please help us to obey your commands, hold tightly to your commands and our lives and our families and our churches, and to hold very loosely to our traditions. We pray this in light of your clear word to us in Mark 7:8. In Jesus name, amen.