Key Verse | Mark 7:6b-7a

"[T]his people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me . . . ."


Scripture | Mark 7

Traditions and Commandments

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, 1 holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. 2 And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches. 3 ) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) 4 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

What Defiles a Person

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 5 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” 6 (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

The Syrophoenician Woman's Faith

24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 7 And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus 8 charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”


[1] 7:3 Greek unless they wash the hands with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing
[2] 7:4 Greek unless they baptize; some manuscripts unless they purify themselves
[3] 7:4 Some manuscripts omit and dining couches
[4] 7:11 Or an offering
[5] 7:15 Some manuscripts add verse 16: If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear
[6] 7:19 Greek goes out into the latrine
[7] 7:24 Some manuscripts omit and Sidon
[8] 7:36 Greek he

Worship Is My Response to What I Truly Believe

Devo | Mark 7

Some religious leaders, a Gentile woman, and a deaf man walk in to a bar . . . just kidding, but I do want to point out how the three encounters with Jesus we see in Mark 7 are really pointing to what we...

Some religious leaders, a Gentile woman, and a deaf man walk in to a bar . . . just kidding, but I do want to point out how the three encounters with Jesus we see in Mark 7 are really pointing to what we truly believe about God, His Word, and His eternal purposes. Mark 7 teaches us that there is a huge gap between honoring God with our lips and worshiping Him with our hearts.

In Mark 7:1-13, the religious leaders encounter Jesus, but they do not come testing the Scriptures to verify if He is their promised Messiah, nor to learn from Him. They certainly do not come to worship Him. Self-righteousness only seeks to express how others do not measure up. It robs the heart of the desire to love Jesus. Worship is an attitude of the heart that pours out what you truly believe. The heart attitude of this group comes with reasons not to worship Jesus; and He responds with Scripture from Isaiah, "[T]his people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me . . . ."

Like the Jewish leaders, the Gentile woman came looking for Jesus. She knew she was face to face with THE Messiah. She came worshiping (see also Matthew 15:22-28), and it was not the position of her body or her words that defined her worship; it was the attitude of her heart. She understood that He is God, and she was not. Her recorded response to Him, "O Lord, Son of David!" (Matthew 15:22) indicates she understood something of the promised Messiah. She came expectant and hopeful, knowing Jesus had the power to meet her need.

Lastly, when the deaf man encountered Jesus, he couldn't help but zealously proclaim Christ. The Gentile woman knew she desperately needed what Jesus had to offer, and the deaf man knew that everyone needed to know Jesus. Their response is worship!

Discussion Questions

1.  Some of the religious leaders were blind to the Scriptures and their own sense of moral superiority. Self-righteousness is not just arrogance about one's own morality or ability to do things right. It is also such a high view of self that response to sinful attitudes and behaviors can be reduced to "little" or "minor." Reflecting on this truth, do you have an attitude that some of your sinful ways are minor or little?

2. Jesus says that out of the heart come sinful thoughts that produce sinful feelings that rationalize sinful attitudes that justify sinful actions. It's a chain reaction. Every manifestation of the heart begins with the way we think about our Creator and Savior. Life, circumstances, irritating people, hurts, and frustrations do not make us respond in sin. They only manifest what is in our hearts. Do you have a heart attitude that regularly seeks the Lord to help you see where you are blind or unwilling to be authentic with yourself, others, and our Creator?

3. Worship is an attitude of the heart that lives for and pours out what you cherish most. Do you go "looking for Jesus" in your daily life, needing to meet with Him through His Word, desiring to know what He has to teach you? Is Sunday the only day you sing to Jesus, serve His body, hear the teaching of His Word, and reflect on your heart toward His eternal purposes in this world? Are you zealously sharing with a lost and hurting world who He is and what He has done?

Meet Margie Medford

I'm a grateful daughter of the King! A wife of almost 30 years to David Medford, my VERY BEST GIFT in this world! Mom, Nana, and fur-mommy to our two very sweet, but cowardly, pitbulls, Cocoa and Bella. Thank you, Jesus!

11 Comments available

Hugh Stephenson 5 days ago

GM Margie. Absolutely love this devo. I love your contrast between the religious leaders and the Gentile woman. I love how you frame the Gentile woman as knowing what she needed and the healed dead man as knowing what others needed.

Q1. I am taught that all sin is sin. I seem to sin continuously so that is a huge thorn in my flesh removing me just as constantly that I need Jesus I ways I can’t even understand. More Him. Less me. (John 3:30).

Q2. My heart seeks him constantly. It seems just as constantly it runs to worldly things.

Q3. I think it’s Tim Keller that says the heart is an ‘idol factory’. Lots of worship music in the car and on walks helps a lot to reorient me.

Hugh Stephenson 5 days ago

Today I noticed as I read that I became increasingly confused about events and reactions/responses to Jesus that seem contrary to what I might expect. Some of this I understand, spiritual battles, hard heartedness,

Constable edifies: “The difficult conflicts … lie not with demons, for Jesus has authority from God to destroy them, nor does Jesus struggle much in conflict with nature, for Jesus has authority over it. The difficult conflicts arise with people, for Jesus has no authority to control them; people choose and nothing can be forced upon them. … He can successfully order a deaf-mute to hear and talk, but he cannot make him keep quiet or stop others from listening to him. Furthermore, he cannot make his disciples understand nor can he constrain the authorities to stop opposing him.” (Rhoads and Michie).

Awhile back a friend equipped me on kenosis,

(More below)

Hugh Stephenson 5 days ago

So, the choices Jesus made makes his humanity more powerful to me. This is especially so when I consider His divinity; particularly as described in detail all through Revelation and other eschatological passages.

Taking license, I summarize what I see as another representation of the humility and obedience of Jesus. In this passage, as well as others, I see what one friend says is Jesus’s most often demonstrated attribute: compassion.

My two favorite verses are:

Matthew 16:15 “…who do you say that I am?”

and Luke 22:42,

“Nevertheless, Your will not mine be done”.

A longer explanation.

Secular dictionary

This one from Fuller Seminary seems clearest to me

Gabriel Adel 5 days ago

Margie! loved your devotional! Two areas that you shared, stood out to me and causes me to reflect on my own heart, not only as I worshiped, but also as I live my life as a Christian and Christ follower: “Worship is an attitude of the heart that pours out what you truly believe.”

“THE Messiah. She came worshiping (see also Matthew 15:22-28), and it was not the position of her body or her words that defined her worship; it was the attitude of her heart”


Margie - good morning! (My grandmother was called Margie. Love that name.)

The prayer in Psalm 19:14 comes to mind.

This reminds me that words DO matter, BUT they are much more of an overflow of my posture than I realize.

Also, Proverbs 15:7 and Matthew 12:34

These verses remind me that the concealment of my heart’s meditation is quite difficult. The idols of control and selfishness and pride will be exposed. Regardless of my words. These idols taint my words. What do I mean? The woman that fell at his feet and pleaded to His highest level of willingness. She likely had a “tone” that was desperately needing Him - assuredly she already knew He was able, yet she still yielded to His willingness vs demanded His ability.

Lord, may my words and posture align today. Amen.

Sue Bohlin 4 days ago

GREAT devo, Margie! “Self-righteousness only seeks to express how others do not measure up.” BAM! What wisdom here!

This chapter has Jesus casting out a demon remotely, and healing a man’s broken hearing and speaking with a single word–the same One who spoke the creation into existence. Jumping off Hugh’s thoughts about kenosis, freshly aware of how Jesus emptied Himself so He would be completely dependent on the Father through the Spirit to accomplish ANYTHING, my understanding of Him is deepened as I see Him be a conduit for divine power rather than drawing on His own–which, I presume, He left behind in heaven?

Jason Cromwell 4 days ago

We never know what’s going to happen until we are put on the spot. It’s easy to make big declarations when you’re chilling on the beach, but how do you respond at the DMV, when someone cuts you off or the Doctor’s office calls you first thing with lab results?

Jason Cromwell 4 days ago

It’s only then when we get to walk out our faith. How do you act when meeting a brother or sister who has a different sin from you? Do you pray for them or join in the gossip circle?

I just got called with Lab Results. The words bone scan was mentioned so I am feeling a million different things. Trying to walk out my faith but also nervous as anyone would be.

Linda Green 4 days ago

Loved this! Thank you for directing us to the Matthew verses for the rest of the story.

A paraphrased quote that opened my eyes to worship- the human heart is an idol factory and we will always worship something.

Have to ask myself what am I worshiping today if not God?

Michael Scaman 4 days ago

Isaiah 29:13 has this people following the traditions of man rather than God with hearts far from Him

1 Cor 1:19 is also taken from a nearby verse to that, Isaiah 29:14

Brad Kearney 3 days ago
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Jason, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I’m so sorry that you’ve received some difficult test results. I’m praying that you would feel peace through the Spirit in this difficult season of unknowns. I’m on staff here at Watermark and would love to connect with you and pray for you. If you would like to connect, call us at 214-361-2275 and ask to be connected with me.

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