But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.Matthew 15:3-9
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.Mark 7:6-13
The Pharisees and Scribes came out from Jerusalem to confront Jesus, not to learn from Him. They felt themselves superior to everyone, and wanted to harm Jesus’ reputation so that no one would follow Him. Jesus, as the Son of God, knows the thoughts and intents of every man. He, therefore, confronts these unbelievers by exposing their hypocrisy.
This account shows a horrible practice that was taught and lived by these supposed religious leaders. In order to excuse themselves from the direct command to honor their parents, they developed a scheme where they could say the money they have is devoted to a religious purpose so they could not help them.
Honestly, what this was was just another form of religion where they could feel better about themselves. They could self-justify and say they were more religious than others. All the while they were neglecting true religion.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.James 1:27
By neglect, their parents were essentially made widows. The entire purpose of the law to care for parents is to show us that religion is not about what we get out of it, but how we help and love others. Jesus even demonstrated this principle while dying on the cross. He charged John to take care of His earthly mother after He was gone (John 19:26-27).
Consider the wise words of Solomon on this very subject:
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.Proverbs 3:27
The practice of the Pharisees flies directly in the face of this teaching for it is not that they didn’t have the money to help. They still had it in their possession. They were just saying it has been pledged to something “religious” and therefore could not be used to help their parents.
If we ever are tempted to worship God simply for what we get from it, we should take a closer look at the Pharisees to see that this is not only selfish it produces vain worship. To combat this mindset, we should consider how Jesus taught us to fulfill all the law and prophets:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.Matthew 22:37-40