“According to Mark’s gospel, what was main issue dividing Jesus from the leaders of Israel?”

The Pharisees and Jesus didn’t get along great. In fact, they disagreed over many things. Which led to Jesus’s crucifixion. Today I am going to discuss what the main issue was between them.

First, let’s define Pharisee: “a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.” ( definition from dictionary.com)

As you read they were regarded with high honor and they were famous for knowing and following all the rules.  And this is where the division was created between the Pharisees and Jesus. Here is an example:

Mark 7: 1-4

1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.[a])”

We saw in that passage that Jesus and some of his disciples weren’t  following the traditions of the Pharisees and the Jews. And this is what the Pharisees have to say about it:

Mark 7: 5-7

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’[

And that is the main reason for their division. Jesus rejected their commandments-“The commandments of men”- he told them they were hypocrites. And that those weren’t the laws of God, but theirs.  The Pharisees were too concerned with the laws of Israel. Not about ethics, but about if you followed the rules.  Jesus wasn’t concerned about the laws but about the people’s souls. 



Western LIT, Essay 91.


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