1. What was the purpose of washing before meals, and why might Jesus not have washed before this meal?
This ceremonial washing was a tradition (as was the traditional foot washing which Jesus rebuked Simon for neglecting in Luke 7:44)). See Mark 7:1-8 for a more detailed explanation of this tradition.
It was more than what the Old Testament Law required.
It was not necessarily a bad tradition.
Similar to people saying Grace before they eat.
Jesus had a point to make. He wanted to have a conversation about this.
He wanted to point out that serving God and loving Him is not about conformity or tradition.
Jesus was clean in a way that no other person can be (see John 13:10 for context).
2. Jesus has three woes and another criticism for the Pharisees. Who are the Pharisees? What point is Jesus making with each of these statements?
Pharisees were Jews.
They were in a position of spiritual authority, and they felt that way about themselves.
They believed they could get to Heaven by keeping the Law.
They tended toward legalism.
They tended toward self-righteousness.
They believed (or at least wanted to believe) that they were doing what God wanted them to do.
Image was important to them. Pride.
They were good at going through the motions.
Somewhat like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Who are the equivalent of the Pharisees today? People who are in church, and studying the Bible, and even teaching others.
Cleaning cups and dishes (verses 39-41).
Ceremonial cleaning only cleans the outside, it doesn’t actually do the job of cleaning your heart or mind (just like baptism as a wonderful symbol but does not actually save us).
If it’s not accompanied by washing on the inside, it’s of no value.
We need to inspect our hearts, to look at who we are before God, and not just go through motions. We also need to invite God to look into our hearts and point out to us of the dirt that is there.
Isaiah pointed out that our best righteousness was just filthy rags. That is, we cannot clean ourselves. We can only be clean through Jesus’ righteousness.
We are to be generous to the poor (possibly in time or in money).
We are to care about the poor.
Tithing (verse 42).
Giving 10% is called tithing.
They thought there were doing what they were supposed to by just doing enough to satisfy the letter of the law (in fact, they learned the lesson from Malachi 3:6-12 and were not robbing God… of their money).
It is all about motivation. The right reason to tithe is for the love of God, not simply to keep a rule.
“I already gave at the office” is similar to this attitude, meaning it’s somebody else’ turn to be generous.
1 Corinthians 13.
Important seats (verse 43).
This may be related to the love of money.
It is also about power.
This is about being seen, and letting others know how important you are.
It’s superficial. About being shown the proper respect.
It is about caring more about how people talk about you than about how God talks about you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
It sees others as tools/opportunities instead of as God’s creation.
Application: claiming as seat at church as your own (going “ahem” if a visitor sits in it). Or claiming a good parking spot.
If you have to remind people how important you are, maybe you’re not that important.
See Luke 14.
The last will be first and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:16)
Unmarked graves (verse 44).
It implies that they are spiritually dead.
What’s inside them is unclean.
They are hypocrites.
They are not as important as they think they are. In fact, they should be avoided.
They are unknown to God.
3. Why does the Expert in the Law object in the way that he does?
They felt like if they followed the Law and had all their ducks in a row, they would be close to God. They felt like they were better than everybody else (self-righteousness). They felt righteous even when compared to the Pharisees.
They practiced the same things as the Pharisees.
Consider the “three monkeys”: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
He may have felt convicted or rebuked, but he said he had been insulted/reproached.
Us… all of us… humanist that has experienced/embraced/insensitivity greed and hypocrisy.
Today we find it easy to find the faults/sins in the culture, not too hard to find the faults and shortcomings of the Church in America, and much harder to look at the faults/shortcomings/traditions in our own local church and our own lives.
The reality is that nobody keeps God’s Law perfectly
4. How does Jesus respond to this Expert in the Law?
Jesus removes any doubt that His comments were supposed to apply to them as well.
Loading people down with burdens. (verse 46)
Jesus came to fulfill the Law. He would do everything for those who could not lift their own burden.
It is easier to point out others shortcomings, and what they need change. It is much harder to help them through that process. It requires a relationship and it requires time.
Building tombs for the prophets that their ancestors/forefathers killed (verses 47-51).
The prophets and apostles were God’s messengers and they were speaking His truth, and they did not want to hear the Truth.
They try to absolve themselves of guilt by building these monuments.
Building tombs was an outward way of showing respect for these prophets, while persecuting them is the exact opposite of respect.
They align themselves with the prophets when the prophets are gone and no longer delivering God’s message.
Jesus is speaking of how they will treat Him.
Love of country that outweighs their love of God or the Truth.
Taking away the key of knowledge and not entering themselves (verse52).
They weren’t sharing what they knew about God. They were sharing the unimportant things, like these rituals and traditions that they had made up, but they weren’t sharing what was important.
They focused on the things you have to do instead of the attitude of the heart and a right relationship with God.
For us today: we should talk about God’s Word instead of just Christian books.
They were hypocrites.
For us today: we must not mislead or hinder others.
It’s easy to take advantage of someone if you know the law better than they do.
Selfish pride/ silly human pride/ ego in know the law better than others.
They keep the religious focus on themselves instead of God.
Focus on their traditions (like shiny beads) instead of God and His Law.
Looking at the Law as supreme instead of God as Supreme.
They missed the point of the Law (Romans 3:20).
5. How do the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law respond to this criticism (verse 53)? How else could they have responded?
They didn’t like it.
They respond out of their flesh. It’s human nature to be defensive when you are criticized.
They attack Him. They oppose Him fiercely.
They start trying to trap Him (woman caught in adultery, paying taxes to Caesar).
They do not search their hearts to see if these things are true. They do not search the Scriptures to if these things are true. They do not try to learn or repent from his message.