Religion vs Relationship

Title: “Religion vs Relationship Text: Mark 7:1-13

“So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked [Jesus], Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition…?’  Jesus replied, ‘You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship is a farce, for they teach manmade ideas as commands from God.” (Mark 7:5-7)

SO… the Pharisees and Scries… at it again with Jesus.  They were so jealous of Him, getting all the “attention” from the people (which they did not), performing miracles (which they could not), and teaching with power and authority (which they had not).  This is a common theme all through the Gospels, until they have “their” way, and Jesus is crucified.  But right now, they are complaining to Jesus about the fact that His disciples don’t take the time to ceremonially cleanse themselves before they eat, which was a “tradition of the elders” that had been handed down for centuries and attached, as it were, to God’s Law… so that the people were required to follow these traditions, even above and beyond what God required.  And so, they want to know from Jesus how come His disciples don’t follow their traditions!

But here is the problem: When God teaches us what to do (His Law), He doesn’t need us to add anything to it (our manmade traditions)!  God’s commandments do not need our addendums… His Word will always accomplish what He desires – He doesn’t need our “help.”  His ways for us always flow from His love and desire for what is best for us.  Our manmade traditions are always born out of a need to please man… not God.  Jesus rejected that type of religion… and what was true then, is true today!  God’s Word will change our lives, if we listen and obey what He says!  People are still very much compelled to follow Jesus today… however, what they are not attracted to is dead religion… senseless and irrelevant traditions… and sermons that sound good but do not change lives. One more thing: it’s very interesting that Jesus says that the type of religion the Pharisees practiced “honors [God] with their lips but their heart is far from ]God].  And they worship [Him] in vain” (v.6-7, English Standard Version).  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day sought the attention of people through their extravant worship and lifestyle.  God, however, seeks after people themselves who worship Him “in Spirit and truth.”

Let that sink in. 😉

Father God, thank You for the life-giving power of Your Word, the Bible; and thank You for sending Your Son… Jesus… God in the flesh… so that we can have a relationship with You.  Help us to refrain from useless, vain traditions that neither satisfy our hunger for you nor settle our problem of sin… but help us to fully surrender our lives to You, and to follow ONLY Your Son.  Thank You for this group where we can find encouragement to stay in Your Word and to learn to listen to what You have to say to us.  All glory, all honor, all dominion, and power belong to You… through Your Son, Jesus who is the Christ… and in HIS NAME we pray… Amen!

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