Jesus said,

“These people honor Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me.
They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

“You have revoked God’s word because of your tradition.”


It’s easier to believe in the big miracles – the feeding of the 5000, walking on water.  Those events seem far away from us today and not much accountability is needed to believe in them.  It’s harder when things gets personal, and that is just what Jesus is doing in these statements when talking with the elders.  His words can be a little hard to take in, if I am honest with myself…  Do my traditions stand in the way of someone seeing Jesus?

Do people see Jesus or do they see my actions?  Am I worshipping a doctrine or Jesus?

Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter – it is our motives.  In this world full of opinions and contradictory messages, I always ask myself one question when trying to discern if someone’s actions and thoughts are true – what is their motive?  Is it to show the love of God which allows people to draw near to Him, or is it self-serving and to prove a point?  If it is done for our own benefit and not for Jesus, then it’s worthless.  Jesus says it’s done in vain.

Always point back to Jesus.

No matter what situation we are in, whether having a conversation, an argument, or needing to make a tough decision, if we always point our conversation back to Jesus, it cannot easily be contested.  Take the focus off us and more on Jesus, and Jesus will make Himself known.

  Matthew 15:1-9 ~ Jesus questions the motives of the elders  

Then the Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders?  For they don’t wash their hands when they eat!”

He answered them, “And why do you break God’s commandment because of your tradition?  For God said: Honor your father and your mother; and, the one who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.

But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Whatever benefit you might have received from me is a gift committed to the temple”—he does not have to honor his father.’  In this way, you have revoked God’s word because of your tradition. Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

These people honor Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me.
They worship Me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

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About the Author

Sue McCusker is a writer, Bible teacher, and web developer who loves to share the stories of life, hope, and faith she sees around her every day. She has written for Guideposts and  Angels on Earth magazines, and teaches the story of God in women's Bible study.

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