Mark 7: Tradition of the Elders

What prompted religious leaders to leave Jerusalem to see Jesus?

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Mark 7:1–2 Pharisees and teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem saw some of Jesus’ disciples eat bread without washing their hands.
King James
Mark 7:1–2 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.

Why did religious leaders place so much importance on what we would simply consider good hygiene?

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Mark 7:3–4 Devout Jews, especially the Pharisees, always washed their hands before eating, a long-standing rule since ancient times. After buying food at the market, they would not put the food to their mouths until they had properly washed. They also followed other traditions, such as washing cups, pots, and pitchers brought to the table.
King James
Mark 7:3–4 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

How much did the practice of the disciples differ from the average Jew? Why might they have been especially concerned about the disciples’ behavior?

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Mark 7:5 The Pharisees and teachers of the Law said to Jesus, “Why do your disciples violate the rules of behavior that were established by our ancestors? When they eat bread, they do not wash their hands.”
King James
Mark 7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

Why did Jesus call the religious leaders hypocrites?

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Mark 7:6–7 “Hypocrites! You fulfill what Isaiah said about you: These people offer praise with their lips, but their hearts are somewhere else. Their reverence for me is nothing but a ritual.
King James
Mark 7:6–7 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. owbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

How do religious traditions hinder our work for the Lord? How can they help?

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Mark 7:8–9 “You ignore God’s commandments by following your own tradition. How beautifully you nullify God’s commandments so you can have your own way.”
King James
Mark 7:8–9 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. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

When one good rule or law works against another, what should we obey?

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Mark 7:10–14 “Moses wrote, Honor your father and mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. By your rules, it is all right for a man to say to his parents, ‘I have dedicated all my possessions to God. What I might have given to you is no longer mine to give.’ In this manner, you excuse the man from helping his father or mother. With your tradition, you nullify God’s commandment. And you do many other, similar things.” Jesus called the people closer. “Listen, and understand what I am saying.
Romans 12:18 Arguing with people builds strife, which you want to avoid. Do your best to live peaceably with everyone.
Hebrews 13:17 Yield to the authority of your leaders, doing what they say, for they are responsible for your spiritual wellbeing and are accountable to God. Make their work a pleasure, not a pain with no benefit to you.
King James
Mark 7:10–14 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

How can what comes out of a person’s mouth corrupt what is on the inside?

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Mark 7:15–23 “You are not defiled by what goes into your mouth. It is what comes out that makes you unclean. If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying.”
Later, when Jesus had left the people and entered the house, his disciples asked him to explain his analogy.
“You still do not understand? You should know that anything going into a man from the outside cannot make him unclean. What you eat does not enter the heart but simply passes through the stomach and out. But what comes out of a person is from the heart, revealing the filth that exists inside. From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, erotic sexual acts, theft, greed, cruelty, lies, lewdness, lust, cursing, pride, and foolishness. All such things come from within and make a person unclean.”
King James
Mark 7:15–23 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. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

How far is Gennesaret from Tyre? What might have happened on the journey between the two areas?

Author’s Thoughts
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Mark 7:24 After leaving Gennesaret, Jesus went to a region near Tyre and Sidon. He did not want anyone to know the house where he was staying, but the news could not be kept secret.
King James
Mark 7:24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.

Why did Jesus not want people to know where he was staying? Why couldn’t the news be kept secret?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Mark 7:24 After leaving Gennesaret, Jesus went to a region near Tyre and Sidon. He did not want anyone to know the house where he was staying, but the news could not be kept secret.
King James
Mark 7:24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.

Why did Jesus object to healing the Greek woman’s daughter?

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Mark 7:25–27 A woman who lived in the area had a young daughter who was possessed by an evil spirit. When she heard about Jesus, she knelt at his feet and begged him to cast out the evil spirit. Since she was Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia, he said to her, “The children of Israel should be fed first. It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
King James
Mark 7:25–27 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

What did others think when Jesus said the woman’s daughter was healed?

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Mark 7:28–30 “That is true, sir. But the little dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
“You have answered well. You may go now. The evil spirit has left your daughter.”
When the woman arrived home, she found her daughter lying on her bed, and the evil spirit had gone.
King James
Mark 7:28–30 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Why did Jesus walk back to the Decapolis area, not far from where he had been when he went to Tyre?

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Mark 7:31 After Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, he walked back toward the Sea of Galilee, to an area of the Decapolis.
King James
Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.

Why didn’t Jesus want to heal the deaf man in public? Who was present?

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Mark 7:32–35 A deaf man had difficulty speaking and begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. After leaving the crowd for a place more private, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears, then spat and touched the man’s tongue. Looking upward, he said in a deep groan, “Ephphatha!” which means “Be opened!”
Immediately, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he spoke clearly.
King James
Mark 7:32–35 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

If Jesus knew the people wouldn’t keep quiet, why did he tell them to?

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Mark 7:36–37 Jesus told the people not to tell anyone, but the more he told them to keep quiet, the more they spread the news.
The crowd was thoroughly amazed, saying, “All his works are spectacular. He even causes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot talk.”
King James
Mark 7:36–37 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.