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6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
They saw the disciples in one case eat bread without first washing their hands. To do this was an offence against the established Jewish etiquette, which was mainly based on rabbinical tradition, for which Jesus had no respect. This, in the eyes of the Pharisees, was a great offence, and one which they seemed to imagine Jesus himself would allow. They boldly asked him, "Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?" They seemed to think this was strong ground.
The "tradition of the elders" was the highest authority with them, as it is universally with the Jews to the present day. What is written in Moses and the Prophets does not seem to weigh with them a tithe of the weight they attach to the uninspired and erring traditions of their disobedient fathers. It seems strange it should be so: but on reflection, it will appear thoroughly natural.
What Paul testifies concerning the tendency of the human mind, is found thoroughly true, though uncomplimentary and unacceptable: "The carnal mind is enmity against God: it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Again, what Jesus said to Peter is true of nearly all men, Jew and Gentile: "Thou savourest not the things that be of God but those that be of men."
The words of God by Moses and the prophets had nothing like the relish (for the bulk of the Jewish nation) which they found in the glosses and interpolations and commentaries of the Rabbis, which were entirely according to human impression, thought and sympathy. They easily disobeyed Moses and the prophets: as easily, they set up the traditions of the Rabbis as the very rule of righteousness and life. Jesus surprised them by taking up a strong stand against tradition:
Nazareth Revisited Ch 35.
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
'...the word of God, direct from the mouth of God by Moses and the prophets, is the rule of truth and duty which God intends every man for himself to apply in the testing and determination of all views and claims emanating from what quarter soever. The lesson is of peculiar force in an age like ours, when almost every religious view is pressed on our notice on the kind of authority arising from the transmitted consent of experts, supported by the compliance of the multitude for a long time. Tradition is the universal foundation; and it is held in the highest repute as a thing that educated intelligence will defer to...
The Scribes and Pharisees were of the tribe which had been divinely separated as the custodians and ministers of the divine knowledge. Inspiration had mainly selected Levites since the days of Moses as the vehicles of prophetic communication. It had only ceased about four hundred years previously; and presumably the Levitical caste would be the reliable conservators and expositors of the divine ideas.
Yet here is the sweeping declaration of Christ that they had made void the word of God through their tradition.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 35
14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
Using his repudiation of the Pharisee hypocrisy as a background, the Lord then continued to expound the matter of defilement. He explained that the only defilement is that which "comes from within" (v. 21). Evil thoughts of any kind are the product of the "carnal mind" (Rom. 8:6), and this brings a person into enmity against God. Such evil thoughts make people morally defiled and cause distress to the righteousness of Yahweh.
Only the pure Word of Yahweh is able to remove such "evil thoughts" and to bring spiritual sanity to the mind. It is this conflict which the apostle Paul felt as he described it in Romans 7, as he describes the difference between the mind of the Spirit and that of the flesh, and the unending conflict between them.
The means of victory is only to be found in the Word of the Spirit and the redemptive work of the Lord Yahshua. What a great victory is thereby wrought for us. Deliverance from the "body of this death" (Rom. 7:24) will be achieved by God through Yahshua Christ (v. 25), for he has accomplished that victory in himself.
Further, the Lord demonstrated a public repudiation of Pharisaic hypocrisy (vv. 14-16), showing that the elements of defilement came from the unclean nature we bear. In his explanation to the disciples (vv. 17-23), the Master made it quite clear that the carnal mind ("from within") was the causative element of all moral uncleanness. This was then confirmed with his encounter with the Syrophenician (vv. 24-30) whose faith was greater than the Jews, and who represented the Gentile Bride of Christ.
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
IN ADAM ALL DIE
At this point one further feature common to all the uncleanness laws assumes its full significance. Defilement was contracted by contact with the cause of uncleanness; the emphasis throughout was on touching, so much so that a person defiled by contact with the original cause of uncleanness could in turn transmit his defilement to other things which came into contact with him (e.g., Lev. 15 : 19-21 ; cf. Haggai 2 : 13).
If then, in the ultimate sense, the cause of defilement stood for Adam's sin, what was each Israelite to do but see in himself an extension of Adam, and in each sin he committed a re-enactment of the first transgression? And having come to that point, what could he conclude but that he, too, like Adam, was under (and righteously under) sentence of death?
This notion of the solidarity of the human race is the unifying factor in all the uncleanness laws and is the secret of the form which the more serious of them took. To begin with, apart from leprosy, all the diseases of which they took account were diseases of the reproductive organs. Even the normal menstrual flow in healthy women bore close enough an affinity to the idea of the defilement caused by ancestral sin to be classed as a cause of seven days uncleanness.
This in itself was pointed enough an indication of the hereditary effects of Eve's and Adam's sin (Lev. 15: 19-24; cf. Gen. 3 : 16). How much more pointed was it when the prolongation of this flow beyond the normal spell was pronounced to be a cause of the gravest kind of uncleanness! The emphasis now (an emphasis essential to the allegory) was on the fact that the female reproductive organs were diseased. So too with man; disease in the male reproductive system was equally defiling. Hidden away out of sight though the source of
defilement might have been, yet its existence could not be denied.
In man and in woman alike the same fatal symptom bore witness to it. "When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean ... and if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation ... she shall be unclean" (Lev. 15 : 2, 25)· In each case the operative factor was the same: it was an issue that was the cause of defilement -- an issue, moreover, out of the flesh - flesh tainted by sin.
More transparent symbolism we could not hope to find. The fact was that some source of corruption within the flesh, some deep seated physical disease of the very springs of life, was exuding noisome matter. How could its allegorical meaning possibly be missed? Human nature had clearly been marred at the source. For man and for woman alike, the counterpart of the inward malady was inbred sin. This moral malady, like the physical, secreted a defiling issue-in this case sinful thoughts and words and deeds. The Law was here saying, as plainly as ever it could, that ...
The Carnal Mind
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Once again, we note, the nexus between the ceremonial and the moral aspects of uncleanness was the fact that ultimately all forms of disease are attributable to sin. It was on that same account that the Lord (healer of physical and moral ills alike) on the one hand said to a paralysed man, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee"; and, on the other, spoke of sinners as those who needed "a physician" (Matt. 9 : 1-12). The medical metaphor sprang naturally to his mind from the Prophets (e.g. Hosea 6 : 1,6).
Law and Grace Ch 7
28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
What a contrast to the defiled leaders of Jewry was this woman of Canaan who recognised that Yahshua was the promised Seed. When she referred to eating "of the crumbs", was she recalling the feeding of the five thousand? GEM
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
Finally, the record concludes with the healing of the deaf man (vv. 32-37), thus demonstrating the power of Yahweh Ropheka to remove spiritual uncleanness, moral deviation, and ultimately, physical deformity. Let us honour Yahweh by elevating His Word in our lives. - GEM