It is important to prioritize the Word of God over the traditions of people. Teachers of the Jewish Law question Jesus when they see his disciples eating without ceremonially washing their hands – a practice that was observed strictly by Jews of the day, especially Jewish leaders and teachers. Before eating, one would wash their hands to first clean them, and then perform an additional washing ceremony to spiritually clean them as well. This additional ceremonial practice was a ritual mandated by tradition, but was never actually a part of God’s Law for His people.
So Jesus refutes this practice. He also rebukes the teachers for being so diligent in upholding these rituals, but too blind to see God Himself in front of them. While the teachers easily examine Jesus and His disciples against these man-made practices, they fail to examine Him against God’s Holy Scripture, and consequently miss out on recognizing Jesus as the fulfillment of it. As Jesus quotes from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, “the people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, and their teachings are but rules made by humans.” How tragic it is to be caught criticizing the Creator God against the created practices of man! When we uphold practices without examining them against God’s Word, we too risk failing to see where God really is, and what He might be up to.
Do our traditions of worship and service to God bring us closer to Him, or do they inadvertently carry us farther away from Him? As believers in Christ, we must never be too stubborn in our own ways that we fail to see God’s ways. Our practices of worship should not blind us from seeing the God we worship. May we be ever kept close to God guided by the hearing and understanding of His Holy Word which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.