When the Pharisees pointed out the failure of Jesus’ disciples to follow the traditions of the elders, Jesus addressed their hypocrisy that had been previously addressed by Isaiah the prophet, through whom God declared that the people honor him with their lips, but their hearts are far from him. The Pharisees were those who lived outwardly exemplary lives, but inwardly they were filled with anger, jealousy and greed that distanced them from God.
This is the age old problem of humanity and religion. Man tends to create external behaviors to reveal that they are religious and honor God, but their hearts can remain distant from God. Man tells himself that God wants them to live with certain behaviors and practices, but Jesus identified many of those behaviors with the commandments of men, which men substitute for having their hearts transformed by God’s spirit. Jesus taught that true worshipers of God worship in spirit and truth. What does that mean? True followers of Jesus worship him from the inside out. Their hearts are changed because of a transformation of their thinking and their values, which then is seen on the outside in their behavior, through their speech and their relationships with those around them. Jesus taught on a number of occasions that his followers’ loving relationships with one another and even with their enemies would reveal that they belonged to him. At one point Paul declared to the Ephesian church that they should be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving one another, just as in Jesus God had forgiven them. Since we’ve been forgiven so much, our love for Jesus is revealed through the forgiving and compassionate relationships that we have.