“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” (Matt. 15:2)Following this challenging and offensive question, Jesus made the above statement.
“And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?"Jesus is clarifying the difference between God's instructions and traditional rules and customs that men follow for the sake of maintaining their understanding of order. This is a distinction critical to the concept of spiritual teachings.
"For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’"Jesus quotes specific instructions of God as coming from Moses' teachings - plainly commanding us to honor the mother and father of this physical body.
"But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father or his mother’ with it."Here we see that Jesus is explaining how the Pharisees' and scribe's interpretations contradict the commands of the Supreme Being.
Jesus is illustrating that they have inserted a way in which a person can opt out of God's commandment. To honor someone is to render respect to that person. There is no ifs ands or buts to consider. Yet the teachers of Jewish law proceeded to create their own compromises with God's statement, to create an "either or" scenario between God and honoring ones parents.
Jesus is not criticizing rendering gifts to the Supreme Being here. Jesus also recommended making offerings to the Supreme Being:
“See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matt. 8:4)
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar...." (Matt. 5:23)So Jesus in no way was denying the importance of making offerings to the Supreme Being, which is something he practiced as well - mistranslated as "giving thanks."
"...leave your gift there in front of the altar." (Matt. 5:24)
But Jesus is speaking of using this as a means to escape from honoring ones father or mother.
In other words, there is no exclusion here. The mother and father of ones body can still be honored, even while someone is serving the Supreme Being. Jesus himself illustrated this. As he was being tortured on the cross, he instructed to one of his students to take care of his mother:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)So we see that Jesus knew he was going to leave his physical body, and even in the pain of of his body's torture - the ultimate service and sacrifice to the Supreme Being - he was still honoring his mother.
“Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition.
By their adding this contingency to the Supreme Being's commandments, they essentially cancelled their obedience to the dominion of the Supreme being.
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”Here is the full text of the verse Jesus is quoting and paraphrasing from in Isaiah:
The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules they have been taught." (Isaiah 29:13)This clarifies that the Supreme Being is not impressed by a person doing ceremonial rites or rituals by rote - without any dedication or consciousness of the Supreme Being - or following rules for materialistic purposes such as impressing others or rising within the ranks of some hierarchy.
Rather, the Supreme Being is pleased when we are caring about Him:
"their hearts are far from Me."
If a person doesn't care about someone, then one could say their hearts are far from them. They don't care, in other words.
This illustrates that the Supreme Being is most interested in our love. He wants us to love Him. And care about Him. Why? Because He knows this and only this will make us happy.
The bottom line is that caring for the Supreme Being stands above all. And caring for God means doing what is pleasing to Him.
Through Isaiah, the Supreme Being clearly communicates that simply following the ritualistic rules and regulations invented by men does not necessarily please Him. This is applicable today. By accepting professional sectarian teachers elected by councils of men, we abandon the prospects for a personal relationship with God. By listening to those who have invented speculative interpretations and teachings with the intent to gain followers, we offend the Supreme Being who simply wants our love.
As we see with Isaiah's communications - just as we saw with Moses and other of His representatives - God's teachings often come through His representative, whom He empowers personally. These representatives are humbly devoted to the Supreme Being, and have been empowered by Him to represent Him. God spoke through Isaiah because Isaiah was lovingly and humbly devoted to the Supreme Being. Same with Moses. And Jesus is also in this same role as God's representative.
God's instructions coming through His empowered representatives may be directed towards a particular culture at a particular time and place. Therefore, it may be that an instruction given by God to one group or person may not apply to another - or it may, depending upon the instruction.
We have to understand that the Supreme Being is a Person. He is not a thunderous cloud, a burning bush or a loud voice. He may utilize these, but ultimately He is a Person, with a will and a personality. This is why Jesus emphasized doing God's will: Because only a person can have a will.
Now since the Supreme Being is a person, and He is, in fact, the Supreme Person, we have to accept that He is in charge. Nothing is out of His control, in other words. The reason He allows ecclesiastical teachers to hijack His past instructions and turn them into empty, ritualistic ceremony is because He has given us the freedom to choose to come back to Him or not. Love, after all, requires freedom. And though it hurts Him to see us abusing His instructions, He is allowing us our freedom of choice.
"...their teachings are but rules taught by men.”Those who follow ecclesiastical organized religions are doing so for a myriad of reasons. Some are following to feel they are saved. They want to feel saved so they can continue to live in a self-centered manner without guilt.
Some follow ecclesiastical religious sects to be accepted by others. They are following the crowd, basically. We all need love, and they feel - in their emptiness - that if they are following the crowd, others are loving them (not true).
Still others may utilize ecclesiastical religious sects as a means to exercise their desire for control. They want to be honored and respected by others, but they also want to tell others what to do. So they go to the seminaries and climb the political ranks, and get appointed by the political councils of men to teach for a salary. As Jesus indicates, they mislead others in the guise of being God's representatives.
The latter group includes the very people Jesus is railing against in his statement above. They've been elected through a political process. Their goal is to be honored and respected, and tell others what to do in the Name of God.
Meanwhile, Jesus, Isaiah, Moses and God's representatives had a different purpose. They are teaching devoted to teaching us to come to know, love and serve the Supreme Being:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matt. 22:37-38)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)