The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had watched the disciples of Jesus eating without first washing their hands…a real defilement of tradition in their eyes! So they confronted Jesus in what they believed to be a breaking of the Law. To answer them, Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” For anytime the Good News of the Gospel is pushed aside for man-made rules, our focus changes from Jesus to religion. But remember, religion in and of itself will never save us. Nor will man-made traditions and teachings ever get us to heaven. It’s only by the blood of Jesus that we are saved…not any rule.
The Apostle John was writing to the Church in the city of Pergamum…where 1000 feet above the plain stood an immense altar to Zeus, the chief god of Greek mythology. Despite being immersed in the oppressiveness of false religion…John was encouraging the Believers to hold fast to their faith. He was urging them to continue to be part of the world, but not of it… and rejoicing that they had refused to become part of this false religious cult and instead maintained their relationship with Jesus Christ. Religious persecution takes on all kinds of faces, and Satan is a master at twisting the truth. And just because a Church is located on the highest point of the city doesn’t mean it’s the godliest.