Matthew 15:7-9. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth night unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
As Jesus continued His response to the scribes and Pharisees, He minced no words. “You hypocrites!” Two-faced, as if holding masks before their faces so they could appear to be whatever they felt they needed to be.
Then Jesus went on to quote Isaiah 29:13, in which God said that the people seem to draw near to Him with their words that spill out of their lips in a flood, but that their hearts are far, far away. Hypocrites, speaking one thing and doing another.
Jesus continuedto quote God’s words in Isaiah, say that it is vain for hypocrites to “worship” God when they teach the commandments of men as if they were the commandments of God!
I’ve thought about this short, sharp rebuke that Jesus hurled at the scribes and Pharisees, and wondered what their faces looked like. I’ve wondered if they swept up their richly adorned robes so as not to touch Him; if they stiffened their necks and raised their aristocratic noses in the air as they stalked away, all full of spiritual pride and empty hearts.
And don’t we do the same? Don’t we teach the traditions of man as if they were God’s own words? “Well,” you may say, “but these traditions are based in scripture!”
Really? Are you sure? Take any tradition you can think of; say, for example, the washing of hands before eating. Find that tradition taught in scripture, taught in great detail so that even the amount of water, which hand is washed first, how many rinsings, and what kind of cloth the hands should be dried with. Those details are NOT God’s words. They are man’s tradition.