Christians today tend to think of Pharisees as stubborn fools for sticking to the traditions of the elders rather than accepting that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and the true Son of God, sent to save the world from sin and death. What Ernest DeWitt Burton and Shailer Mathews had to say over 100 years ago about Mark 7:5 in The Life of Christ has as much validity today as when they first wrote it.
In Mark 7:5 the Pharisees are complaining to Jesus about the behavior of his disciples, who ate without washing their hands after coming from the market:
“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?” (KJV)
Burton and Mathews had this to say about verse 5:
“It must be remembered that these traditions had for the Pharisees all the force and sacredness of law; even as in modern times many Christians are apt to be more tenacious of the usages and traditions of their sect than studious of the Scriptures or eager to find out the real truth.”
Are we being a little hard on the Pharisees? Or maybe we’re being a bit hypocritical since today we are so prone to squabbling among our fellow Christians about things that have little to do with the message of love and forgiveness that Jesus brought to the world and everything to do with the teachings of men rather than of God. Many Christians today are as firmly rooted in their chosen sect to the detriment of their relationship with the Risen Savior Jesus Christ. We need to put the emphasis back the love and forgiveness of Jesus in order to push back the evil forces of Satan that are working to destroy us all.
Will you be a soldier for Christ or are you going to be a modern day Pharisee, obsessed with earthly traditions and only vaguely connected to Christ and the Holy Spirit?