|Church School Lesson: More Than Lip Service|
"More Than Lip Service"
June 17, 2018
Background: Matthew 15:1-9, Mark 7:1-13; Print: Matthew 15:1-9;
Key Verse: Matthew 15:8; Devotional: Mark 7:1-13
Matthew 15:1-9 (NKJV)
1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,
2 "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."
3 He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'
5 But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God"--
6 then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "
Matthew Chaper 15 (Commentary)
15:1, 2: The Pharisees and teachers of religious law came from Jerusalem, the center of Jewish authority, to scrutinize Jesus' activities. Over the centuries since the Jews' return from Babylonian captivity, hundreds of religious traditions had been added to God's laws. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law considered them all equally important. Many traditions are not bad in themselves. Certain religious traditions can add richness and meaning to life. But we must not assume that because our traditions have been practiced for years, they should be elevated to a sacred standing. God's principles never change, and his law doesn't need additions. Traditions should help us understand God's laws better, not become laws themselves.
15:5, 6: This was the practice of Corban (literally, "offering"; see Mark 7:11). Anyone who made a Corban vow was required to dedicate money to God's Temple that otherwise would have gone to support his parents. Corban had become a religiously acceptable way to neglect parents, circumventing the child's responsibility to them. Although the action--giving money to God--seemed worthy and no doubt conferred prestige on the giver, many people who took the Corban vow were disregarding God's command to care for needy parents. These religious leaders were ignoring God's clear command to honor their parents.
15:8, 9: The prophet Isaiah also criticized hypocrites (Isaiah 29:13), and Jesus applied Isaiah's words to these religious leaders. The Pharisees knew a lot about God, but they didn't know God. When we claim to honor God while our heart is far from him, our worship means nothing. It is not enough to study about religion or even to study the Bible; it is not enough to act religious. Our actions and our attitudes must be sincere. If they are not, Isaiah's words also describe us.