MARK 6:53



After Jesus quieted the storm in a miraculous and supernatural way the Bible says in Mark 6:53-56, “And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.  And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And withersoever he entered, into villages or city or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole.” The common people heard Jesus gladly. No one else could help them in their greatest needs. These people in the villages and the country-sides of Galilee were smart enough and fortunate enough to realize that something about Jesus rang true, and so they put their hopes and their faith in Him. If you have no where else to turn, it is a lot easier for you to trust in Christ.


In contrast to the people who did believe in Jesus, in Mark chapter seven we are shown the types of people who did not trust in Jesus nor come to Him for help. These people who did not believe in Jesus are identified in Mark 7:1. It says, “Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.” The religious leaders and the religious teachers who came from the center of organized religion are the ones who did not believe in Jesus. Why did these religious teachers, the scribes and Pharisees, not believe in Jesus? One reason is the vast difference between what they taught and what Jesus taught.


Jesus taught grace and mercy and forgiveness. The scribes and Pharisees taught law and legalism, and they had a spirit of harsh criticism that such teachings always bring. Concerning these Pharisees the Bible says in Mark 7:2-4, “And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say with unwashen hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands often, 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, brazen vessels, and of tables.”


Organized religion in first century Israel had established requirements for everyone in society. Certain religious ceremonies had to be performed. If you did not perform these ceremonies then you were considered to be defiled. These washings that were required on a daily basis were not for the purpose of being clean from dirt, but were required in order to remove an imagined contamination by contact with non-Jews. These requirements were not only legalistic, they were also steeped in racial prejudice.


People who are not spiritual, but who are involved in religion will always emphasize these kinds of religious ceremonies. They do not understand spiritual things. They are not spiritual, and therefore the only thing that they understand are legalistic requirements. Be careful about any activities that you have in relation to organized religion. Before you know it, they will have you thinking just like the Pharisees. The book of Galatians goes into great detail warning believers of falling under the spell of the law and legalistic requirements. Galatians 3:1-2 says, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” 


The Pharisees and scribes were under the law, and to make matters worse, they had other religious requirements that they had even added to the law. That’s what Mark 7:3 was referring to when it says, “holding the tradition of the elders.” By following the tradition of man, they set aside the will of God. That’s one of the failures that organized religion easily falls into. A certain practice gets established, and at first there may not be anything wrong with the practice. Many things are permissible because of the freedom allowed by personal preferences, but as time goes by many times these practices and preferences start being taught as if they are from God, and then they are taught by the teachers as though they are absolute requirements, and those who accept these traditions of man become just like the Pharisees, along with their teachers. A good example of this today are the various religious services practiced by individual churches. You are free to have church services when you wish to have them, and to go to church services when you wish to go to them; but there is no spiritual requirement and there is no biblical requirement to go to every church service. Those who make such requirements become legalistic because they emphasize the traditions of man.


Religious people who are like the Pharisees are self-righteous because they think they are better than others. They should consider that they are sinners, rightly related to God only because of the mercy and grace that is in Christ Jesus. They actually think that their righteousness comes from their keeping of these external human traditions. They also become very critical of others who do not keep the human traditions the way that they do. The Pharisees were very critical and condemning. They even condemned Jesus because He did not observe their religious traditions. Mark 7:5 says, “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not your disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?


Jesus explained the spiritual problem of the self-righteous religious Pharisees very clearly. The Bible says in Mark 7:6-8, “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. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 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.” The first thing that Jesus said is that these kinds of religious people are hypocrites. He called them hypocrites because they claim to be worshippers of God, but they are not. If they were true worshippers of God, they would be following the true way instead of following the traditions of men. If they were true worshippers of God, they would be worshipping God in spirit and in truth through the grace that is in Christ Jesus, but since they are not, they are stuck on law and legalism and the keeping of rules and regulations. They are hypocrites, because no one can keep all of their rules anyway. Even they do not keep them.  


It’s not what someone says. It’s what they actually have in their hearts, their innermost beings. There are people who claim to believe one thing, but actually believe something else in their hearts. Only Jesus knows who such people are, but such people are hypocrites. True Christianity is a religion of the heart. If you do not want to be a hypocrite, then make sure that your heart is right. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”


Jesus said in speaking of the scribes and Pharisees, “In vain do they worship me.” They had worship services. They had religious ceremonies. They had things that they did that were supposed to be in worship to God. But Jesus said that it was “in vain.” There was no value to their religion. There was no profit to it because of their hearts. There are people involved in religion religiously, but because their heart is not right, their religion is in vain. The solution to that problem is simple: repent of their sins and turn to the Lord humbly in their hearts. 


How can this kind of thing happen to religious people? How is it that individuals can spend time and effort in religion and it all end up being in vain? One reason is what caused it to happen to the Pharisees. Jesus said that they were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The true worship of God must be based upon true teachings and must be based upon sound biblical doctrine. If someone does not teach biblical doctrine, then that means that they are teaching the commandments of men.    


It’s not an easy thing to stay true to the Word of God, without deviating into the teachings and traditions of man. There must be a lot of people following the traditions of man. Think of all the doctrinal differences between the various denominations. Someone must be wrong. Be very careful or you will be guilty of following preferences and opinions in place of the Word of God. That’s why the Bible says, “If any man speak, let him speak as of the oracles of God.” And it says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” That’s also why the book of Revelation gives such a serious warning to anyone who adds to or takes away from the Word. Revelation 22:18-19 says, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”


Jesus gave an example of how the Pharisees by the traditions of man had set aside the commandments of God. The Bible says in Mark 7:9-13, “And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 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.  


Jesus quoted one of the ten commandments: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” In this passage Jesus also makes clear one facet of what it means to honor one’s father and mother. When Jesus said, “And ye suffer him no more to do anything for his father or his mother.” In other words, these Pharisees had found a way of justifying not doing things for their parents that they ought to be doing for them. They said that they could not give to help their parents because they had to give somewhere else. That is God’s social security system. At first the parents take care of the children. They protect, and provide for, and educate the children for twenty to thirty years. Eventually, it becomes the children’s turn. The parents will eventually become too old to do certain things for themselves and the children must then help out. That’s God’s social security system. The parents take care of the children, and then later in life the children take care of the parents. If your parents have taken care of you, then the time will come when you should take care of them. To do anything else would be to deny one of the great commandments of the Bible. First Timothy 5:8 says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”


Getting back to the problem of all the ceremonial washings that the Pharisees did, Jesus wanted to clarify what was wrong with such religious teachings and such religious practices. Water put on the outside cannot cleanse sin that is on the inside. Also, that which you touch physically is not what taints you with sin. The Bible says in Mark 7:14-23, “And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 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.” If you cannot be defiled by physical and material things, then you cannot be cleansed from sin by water either, and that includes water baptism. Water baptism is only symbolic. How then is someone cleansed from sin? It takes a spiritual experience to be cleansed from sin: the spiritual experience of the new birth in Christ.          





Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved