We read these verses:
1Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2"Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." 3He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' 5But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:The Pharisees came to Jesus all offended because how dare the disciples not follow all the rules. How dare they eat without washing their hands first! There were traditions to be upheld afterall.
8"'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
10And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: 11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person." 12Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" 13He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." 15But Peter said to him, "Explain the parable to us." 16And he said, "Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."
Jesus' response to them was fairly simple... what use are traditions if they cause the word of God to not be followed? God's word, God's law is more important than the traditions of men.
The Pharisees had even instituted a law/a tradition, that said that if a fellow said his stuff belonged to the Lord, he couldn't use his 'stuff' to support his parents or family. It was a good way to get out of one's obligations to them. BUT it also meant that God's word/law was not being followed. So Jesus called them on it.
They of course, did not appreciate this at all. :) To the point where the disciples came to Jesus and said "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"
Jesus' response was "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." In essence he said....let them be. Ignore them. God will sustain that which he planted, the rest will die off.
I really liked the clarity of these lines:
Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."We are defiled by what we let come out of our mouths.
There are lots of times that I think things that I aught not think. And by the power of God...and choosing not to, I don't say half of what I think. And when I do let things slip out that I aught not to, that is when I show that I am wrong. That is when I show that I defiled.
I know that I am not to think wrongly, it is as much of a sin as actually saying and doing stuff. What comes out of my mouth, shows the state of my heart. And learning to curb the state of my heart (through the power of God) keeps my defilement at bay.
People seem to get so hung up on doing the right things, of following tradition and ideas and so forth, that sometimes just following God gets lost in the process. I look at the traditions in churches, in families, in society and sometimes I wonder.....where is just obeying God in all of this?
Take for instance something simple, and on my mind since Christmas is just past. Advent wreathes are used in many churches. It has gotten to the point in many churches that if the advent wreath isn't used that the church is properly celebrating Christmas and isn't properly looking forward to the return of Christ. And people actually get quite upset about it. It's not the wreath that is important, it's what is in our hearts and minds. We don't need the wreath at all. Having special readings to help point our hearts and minds in the right direction... that's one thing, but the physical wreath itself... that's a tradition...and isn't the important thing at all.
There are lots of things that can be looked at this way. And we really need to. We as a people really need to see what's on our hearts and minds, is it God or a bunch of traditions meant to just make it look that way?