Unlimited: The Traditions of the Pharisees
Dec 18, 2020 1444
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles) (Mark 7:1–4, NIV).
It’s important to know about the Pharisees because Jesus spent a lot of time with them, and it helps us understand many of the things that Jesus taught.
The Pharisees were a very influential Jewish religious group that started around 200 years before Jesus. They were lay people who dedicated themselves to studying and teaching the religious law. They were very highly respected by the common people: much more than the priests in Jerusalem.
The Pharisees believed that in order to keep the law properly that was found in the Bible, it was important to keep hundreds of other more specific oral laws that had been handed down from previous generations. This is what Jesus refers to here as the “tradition of the elders”.
Some of these laws had to do with washing your hands before eating and also washing cups and plates and so on. I guess that this was good hygiene, but the Pharisees taught that these things were moral issues. In other words, if the people didn’t do these things, they were committing a sin.
The Pharisees were a very important source of authority for the people in the time of Jesus. They determined what the priorities and values were for their society.
What are the sources of authority in our culture? It used to be the great institutions like the church, the government, and the education system. But what is it today?
Is it the mass media? Are they the entertainment idols of our day?
Or has our culture so lost its way that we have lost our sources of authority completely? So that it’s whatever anyone wants to think or do?
– Eliezer Gonzalez
Eli’s Reflection: Here’s the challenge for you: Are you willing to make the central source of your authority Jesus Christ and Him alone?