“1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Mark 7:1-5 (KJV)
If there is fault to find the fault would be with those who seek to find fault with that which is perfect. The disciples, or followers of Jesus are not perfect, but they do follow a perfect Lord and Savior. The “Nay-sayers” and “fault finders” are simply without any evidence of truth, and so object to any one who is living out the truth; which is the life of Jesus.
In the day we live in there are good health reasons for washing of hands. To wash hands after using the restroom is certainly a means of preventing disease, illness, or sickness. Washing one’s hands after using a handrail or shaking hands with people is a good idea, to prevent colds, the Swine flu [h1n1] threat of the day, or other sickness. There is much sickness that is passed from one person to another just by the hands, so washing them often is a good idea, but let’s not be obnoxious about it.
There are a lot of people who believe the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is in the Bible. It is not. I think the religious leaders of Jesus’ day must have thought that it was. They had developed a tradition of “Handwashing” which they had elevated over Scriptures. Not only had they done that, but they had neglected to practice the practical teachings of Scripture concerning caring for parents (vv. 10-11).
Verse 3 – “except they wash”
To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: – wash. Compare G3068.
v. 4 – “except they wash”
From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.
In verses three and four we have the word “wash” used in two different ways. The one in verse three has to do with the washing of hands before eating their meal in a ceremonial fashion.
“The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands; whose fingers must be pointing up. As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step. He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down. Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.” FROM MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE pg. 1473.
Verse four is our word for “Baptism”, and it leaves us with the idea that after these men had been to the market, around a lot of people, they were required to take a ceremonial bath [it could be only the immersing of their hands in water] before they could even eat a meal. That seems like a whole lot of trouble to eat a meal.
The disciples were eating without the ceremonial cleansing of their hands. The question was brought up by the Pharisees as to why this was so. Nit pickers is the word I would use concerning them. Eating without washing the hands defiles no one.
The Pharisees were actually accusing Jesus of teaching the disciples against the “traditions of the elders”.
For verses 1 – 13 J. C. Ryle wrote, 1)
“The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the low and degraded condition of Jewish religion, when our Lord was upon earth.”; 2) “The second thing, that demands our attention, is the uselessness of mere lip-service in the worship of God.”; 3) “The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is the tendency of man’s inventions in religion to supplant God’s word.”
“6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:6-23 (KJV)
When the traditions of men become as important or in the case of the Pharisees more important than the clear teachings of God’s Word, then hypocrisy had crept in and the Word of God has no affect on the heart. These were, in effect, honoring God with their lips, but their heart was unclean and far from God – “Wherefore the Lord said, ‘Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men…” (Isaiah 29:13).
The Pharisees were teaching the traditions of men as though they were “doctrine” with the same authority and inspiration of Scriptures. They were wrong. Are there ways by which we can put “traditions” above Scripture? How about some rules concerning our buildings, area of worship, music in worship, giving of offerings in worship, our dress, physical appearance, etc.? Can a born again/Christian be a hypocrite? NO! Can we be hypocritical? YES!
From G5271; an actor under an assumed character (stage player), that is, (figuratively) a dissembler (“hypocrite”): – hypocrite.
A “Hypocrite” is, “an actor under an assumed character”. Basically someone pretending to be something they are not. They can boast long and loud of their faith and character, but there is no fruit, proof, or evidence of it. Jesus called these men “You hypocrites…”. They were “Hypocrites” not just hypocritical. They put on a good religious front, but had nothing of the heart.
They had even taken the commandment of God which says, “Honor your father and mother” and put a tradition with it which allowed them to withhold support from their elderly parents if they had designated the support need as “a gift”. “Corban” was the phrase they used to exonerate themselves from supporting their parents. That is one of their traditions which had taken the place of Scripture. They had in affect made of “None effect” by their traditions.
The heart of man is desperately wicked. It is from the heart that man is defiled and made unclean. Nothing from without us can make us unclean. It is due to an unclean heart that we stand condemned by God, to a Christless eternity. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)”. Can we hear the words of Jesus as He tells us that He is more concerned with the depraved heart of man than He is with “sacrifice”; “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (KJV)”. Although this is Old Testament it certainly portrays the depraved heart, in thinking that an act of “sacrifice” is greater than the written Word of God.
J. C. Ryle writes for verses 14 – 23, 1)
“We see in the beginning of this passage, how slow of understanding men are in spiritual things.”; 2) “We see, in the second place, from this passage, that the heart is the chief source of defilement and impurity in God’s sight.”; 3) “We see, in the last place, from this passage, what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains.”
“24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Mark 7:24-30 (KJV)
The “dogs” to which Jesus refers is not a derogatory term of meaning “mean, vicious, or mangy”, but most likely a family pet. Jesus ministry was to be to the household of Israel, and this woman was a Gentile, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” Matthew 15:22 (NASB)”, and He viewed this woman and her child as part of the household, but not a prominent part of it. The “dogs” were under the table.
This was a test of the woman’s faith. How would she respond? Would she leave disappointed or would she keep on believing, and trust the Savior to do His work in her and her daughter? She would believe. The woman’s daughter was another one who was demon possessed. It does not go into any details to tell us the situation of the daughter – how this demon effected her life – it just simply tells us she “had an unclean spirit”.
Just by His Word Jesus delivers the daughter, and the mother leaves believing the saying to be true. That is a wonderful faith. Concoction of rules does not a righteous person make. Believing the Word of God and obeying is the path of righteousness.
J. C. Ryle on verses 24 – 30,
1) “In the first place, this passage is meant to encourage us to pray for others.”; 2) “In the second place, this passage is meant to teach us to persevere in praying for others.”
“31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” Mark 7:31-37 (KJV)
Someone has said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that means we are to do twice as much listening as we do speaking”. That is really good advice. It is with that that it seems Jesus may have thought the same thing, because He opened up his hearing first. Part of that would be because most people who do not hear cannot speak, or cannot speak well also.
It is important that we listen; especially to the Word of the Lord; so that we might faithfully and powerfully proclaim it to a world that is lost and condemned by sin. Hear the Word of God then proclaim it. Jesus said above, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (v.16). All that Jesus said and taught is worth our hearing and doing.
The Lord opened the ears so me might hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved, and He gave us speech so that we might praise Him, and sound forth the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you have redeemed ears, and a redeemed mouth? If you are in Jesus Christ you have.
1)”The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the mighty miracle that is here recorded.”; 2) “The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the peculiar manner in which our Lord thought good to work the miracle here recorded.”; 3) “But there is one simple lesson to be learned from our Lord’s conduct on this occasion. That lesson is, that Christ was not tied to the use of any one means in doing His works among men.”; 4) “We see the same thing going on still in the Church of Christ. We see continual proof that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means exclusively in conveying grace to the soul.”; 5) “The last thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the remarkable testimony which was borne by those who saw the miracle here recorded.”
If we do not do what we hear we are hypocrites and do not glorify the Lord of life. The miracle of your changed life is what others will see.
-Tim A. Blankenship