But he (Jesus) 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 Isaiah 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.” (Matthew 15:3–8 KJV)
Our passage describes one of the behaviors of people who draw near to God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. They do a lot of talking or singing, but it is all empty words from God’s perspective. In fact, Jesus takes it another step and calls them hypocrites. Why? Because they travel the deadly path of king Saul of Israel—believing that “drawing near unto Him with their mouth, and honouring Him with their lips” is more acceptable than simple obedience to His clearly revealed word. Jesus said, “their heart is far from me.” Unlike king David, a man after God’s own heart; these people that Jesus called hypocrites did not share God’s heart in matters most important to Him. This is a very sobering thing to contemplate.
Long before Truman coined his famous line that has no doubt dogged a few presidents since, Jesus revealed in Matthew 15:3-8 a highly instructive understanding of the will of God concerning treatment of family—particularly parents. It contains both a positive and a negative commandment from the Old Covenant. Honor thy father and mother is the positive commandment. Do not curse your father or mother is the negative commandment. Both of these contain a modifier related to the duration of a person’s physical existence. In other words, if you honor your parents God will add to your years; if you dishonor them you deserve the death penalty.
Sadly, many youth have grown up thinking it’s “cool” to disrespect and even curse their parents. This is the spirit of Antichrist running rampant in the land. In fact, as recently as August, 2014 radio.com published a list of “9 songs to hate your parents to.” They must have worked hard widdling down to 9 because that number wouldn’t even get you started in the Rock and Roll genre alone. However, from God’s perspective, a person who does not have the good sense to honor their parents doesn’t belong on the earth. He has another place reserved for them. From the punk rocker who wanted to “break his mamas back” to the white rapper who was “cleaning out his closet” — all they were really doing is digging their own graves.
Worse Than an Unbeliever
This may be the behavior of infidels, but what about Christians? I use these horrific experiences as my context when I read Paul’s words, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8) You mean to tell me that for a Christian to dishonor his parents it is worse than being an infidel or atheist? That’s right. Jesus used the word “hypocrite” … perhaps they may be characterized as “hypochristians.” It’s bad for an infidel to mistreat parents; but for a Christian to do it stupefies the mind.
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
It is interesting that Jesus connects cursing the parents with the use of “corban.” This is insightful. You don’t have to literally speak evil of the parent to be in violation of the precept; all you have to do is dishonor them by your actions. Notice there are no exceptions given. Some people think they can sidestep a precept if they have a valid excuse. But you will find none. God never gives a variance to those who would passively dishonor or even dare to speak evil of their parents. Nobody can vote to set aside this rule. God expects us to honor our parents so long as they live.