Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and teachers of the law for creating and observing man-made rituals and traditions and neglecting the commands of God. In this instance they were challenging Jesus because he and his disciples had not performed a ceremonial washing before eating. Being a Rabbi, they expected Jesus and his followers to observe these Pharisaical rules. Quoting from Isaiah 29:13, Jesus has some strong words to say to the professional religious law-keepers. ‘You’re so focused on doing things that make you look holy, that you’ve forgotten what it is to BE holy. God doesn’t care for your rituals and traditions – he wants you to have the right heart!’
This passage from Isaiah is one I’ve reflected on regularly, ever since becoming a Worship Pastor. I never want this to be the report card for me, our team or our church. We say the right things, do the right things and rest on ‘the way we’ve always done it’ and all the while our hearts are far from the things of God. What a tragic report card for the church – when our own traditions and forms are a mask for hearts that are unrepentant, bitter and self glorifying.
Lord my desire is to be a man after your heart. I pray that my worship, ministry and life is not curated to seek the approval of man but is holy and pleasing to You. Amen.