Jesus had some very stinging words about the religiously powerful of his day. The Gospel of Mark 7 is one of those places. Let’s study some of those words.
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
In these verses Jesus was addressing the Pharisees from Jerusalem. These guys, being from Jerusalem were not some radical sect that was divorced from the mainstream Judaism, they were likely the leader of the leaders of the mainstream church. I’m sure they were totally shocked to have this carpenter’s son rebuke them so harshly. With that in mind it is not to surprising that they then went on to plan for his execution. They had, I am sure, the belief that they were the spokesman for God, not this lowly peasant.
Jesus told them that they were hypocrites, as the humble and poor people who were surrounding him to listen to his messages knew more about God than they did. Jesus told them that their religion was more about human rules than about learning lessons from God. Can you imagine the hate they must have had for Jesus after these strong words?
The religion of Jesus’ day had devolved into traditions that had little to do with God but instead were implemented to keep the religious hierarchy of the day in power. It was more about their rules than God’s. He told them that they do many things against the true teaching of God.
I’m sure there are many in today’s churches who consider themselves the leader of the leaders as the Pharisees did. I am also sure that Jesus would say many of the same things against them as he did two thousand years ago. Many religions have devolved into organizations of human traditions and dogma.
The current emergent movement within the church body is attempting to force the original messages of Jesus back to front-and-center in today’s church. If they are successful maybe someday the light of Jesus and his true words will again be a shining beacon for the world to look upon.