Humble Hero


Christ Foretells a Great Uprooting

This chapter is based on Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23.

The mission of the Twelve showed that Christ’s work was expanding, and so it had reignited the jealousy of the leaders at Jerusalem. The spies they had sent to Capernaum in the early part of Christ’s ministry had been no match for Jesus, but now they sent another delegation to watch His movements and find some accusation against Him. HH 180.1

As before, the basis of their complaint was that He disregarded the traditional rules supposedly designed to help people keep from breaking the law. Among the rules they enforced most strenuously was ceremonial purification. They claimed that neglecting the forms to be observed before eating was a terrible sin. HH 180.2

Those who tried to observe the rabbis’ requirements found life to be one long struggle against ceremonial defilement. While the people were occupied with trivial observances, their attention was turned away from the great principles of God’s law. HH 180.3

Christ and His disciples did not observe ceremonial washings. The spies, however, did not make a direct attack on Christ, but came to Him with criticism of His disciples: “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” HH 180.4

Jesus made no attempt to defend Himself or His disciples. He proceeded to show the spirit that drove these sticklers for human ceremonies. He gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing: “All too well you reject the commandment of God,” He said, “that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God)”; and you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother.” An undutiful child only needed to pronounce the word Corban over his property, and he could keep it for his own use during his lifetime, and after his death it was donated for the temple service. In this way, he was free to dishonor and defraud his parents, under cover of a pretended devotion to God. HH 180.5

Jesus spoke well of the poor woman who gave her all to the temple treasury. But the priests and rabbis’ apparent zeal for God was just a show to cover a desire to exalt themselves. Even the disciples of Christ were not completely free from the yoke of inherited prejudice and rabbinical authority. By revealing the true spirit of the rabbis, Jesus was trying to free all who really wanted to serve God. HH 180.6

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
HH 181.1

Christ declared that by placing their requirements above the divine laws, the rabbis were setting themselves above God. Jesus explained that defilement does not come from the outside, but from within. Purity and impurity are matters of the heart. HH 181.2