Mark Part XXVII - The Commandment of God (7:1-13)
In our text today a matter of utmost importance is addressed: how do we identify the true Jew, the good Jew? The Pharisees, we discover, are trying to sell themselves to the multitude as the legitimate heirs of Moses. "We have the true program for Israel’s greatness and prosperity. We have the capacity to identify the true Jew, the good Jew. How is that? By noting those who follow the tradition of the elders."
Jesus responds by undermining their claim, first by addressing whose heirs they really are and then responding to the specific question they ask. He begins by noting that they are the legitimate heirs of someone – but that that someone isn't Moses. They are the legitimate heirs of those who brought about Jerusalem’s destruction the first time; and they are well on their way to doing it again. Jesus vindicates this charge by proposing an alternate answer to the question - how do we identify the true Jew, the good Jew? His answer? The true heir of Moses is the one who does what Moses said. On this occasion, Jesus demonstrates the scribes’ and Pharisees’ failure to speak for Moses by highlighting one way among many in which their tradition undermined the Word of God. Rather than abandon their tradition to follow the commandment of God, they destroyed the commandment of God in order that they might keep their tradition. Whereas Moses commanded them to honor their parents, they invented the legal fiction of Corban to avoid their duty.
And so the answer to our opening question - how do we identify the true Jew, the good Jew? - drives us back to the Word of God and the commandments of God.
Stuart Bryan is the pastor of Trinity Church. He and his wife, Paige, have seven children, four homegrown, two adopted from the lovely land of Guatemala, and one adopted from Ukraine. Stuart earned his B.A. in Religion from Whitworth College and his M.A. in Theological and Historical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.