5. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM
Background: Jesus had practised extensive teaching and
healing activities in Galilee. The leaders of Jerusalem had heard
stories about him and they sent a delegation to investigate the
matter. Ritual washing was prescribed by the Law of Moses for
those who had touched a leper, a deceased or blood. He who had
become unclean because of these causes had to wash his clothes
and his whole body. However, this text is about the traditional
rules that had been added afterwards. Their purpose was to
cleanse a Jew who had been in contact with a pagan or with items
touched by a pagan, for example at a market. These rituals made
it difficult for Jews associate with and be in the company of the
- In what kind of situations the teachers of the law were able
to observe Jesus and his disciples?
- If the disciples found someone watching them, how would it
perhaps have influenced their behaviour?
- Some of the disciples apparently performed the ritual wash.
Why didn’t others do it?
- What impression do you get: how was Jesus behaving in that
situation, did he wash his hands or not?
- Why had the traditional rules been added little by little to
the Law of Moses? (What was the point of new ritual cleansing
according to the Pharisees?)
- How did these rules affect the daily life and relationships
of ordinary people?
- What might the Pharisees and scribes have expected Jesus to
answer to their question?
- What was the secret agenda behind this question?
- It is evident according to the Gospel of Luke that Jesus did
not always perform ritual washing before a meal (Luke 11:38).
What was his motive when he did the washing? And what was his
motive when he didn’t do it?
Verses 6-9. The Pharisees and scribes were not considered
as hypocrites but as true believers who never made any
compromises with their faith.
- What kinds of people are considered hypocrites in our
- What might the disciples have thought when Jesus called the
religious elite hypocrites straight to their faces?
- What had caused the hearts of the Pharisees to drift away
- Why didn’t the Pharisees themselves notice that their
relationship with God had changed into mere habit of following
- How can we end up in a situation where we honour God only
with words but without our heart?
- What are the different ways a person can nullify or deny the
commandments of God?
- What is your relationship to God’s commandments?
- How can we separate the man-made rules and the word of God?
Verses 10-13. According to a traditional rule, a son
could hand over his future inheritance to the temple as a
sacrificial gift already while his parents were alive. In that
case it was not allowed to use the inheritance to support the
- Why is honouring the parents important in every culture?
- What happens in a society where children are allowed to curse
at their parents and teachers without punishment?
- Why didn’t Jesus abolish the death penalty of the Law
of Moses to those who curse their father and mother? (What does
this verse show about Jesus’ relationship to the death
penalty in general?)
- What kind of different reasons people may have had when they
donated money to the temple?
- Read verses 11-12 carefully. Who does what to whom?
- How could the parents survive whose child had donated his
money to the temple and no longer supported them?
- How are the Fourth Commandment (verse 10) and the word of God
(13) nullified in our day?
- What should each of us do for our parents?
- What is the purity that God requires from us?
- What could we learn from this text concerning the so-called
matters of discretion?
- Where is the gospel in this text?
Glad tidings: Jesus honoured both his earthly
parents and his Heavenly Father. Still, he had to endure the
death sentence of those who curse their parents. It happened
because we have not treated our parents as we should have.