The Weekend Word
Traditions and Commandments
1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
- This is the beginning of the old Israel coming to Jesus (the new Israel) and wanting to know why he is changing things.
- Jesus is going to tell them. The old has served a purpose, the old has gone to seed, the old is done in God’s economy.
2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
- Note that they say ‘the traditions of the elders’ – and not the Bible, not the commandments.
- There was in the past and there is today no commandment –
- Just what are the traditions? They are the go to commentaries explaining the commandment.
- So they would ask “what does the Mishna say” instead of asking, “what does the word of God say.”
- Rabbi so and so says “This is the way you should follow this commandment.”
3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
- Again Jesus will turn the tables on these guys.
- “You guys break commandments to keep your own traditions.”
- Pretty soon the interpretation either denies or breaks the commandments.
- We sometimes see these as “work arounds”.
- And we do this also. We know the word, hear it and say “but this is what it really means.”
4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
- Pretty simple commandment to understand.
- We may not like our parents and we may not want anything to do with them
- And that is OK — just realize what the consequence is –
- but we don’t think that way- In our minds we change it around.
5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”
- What contribution (family support) you expected from me – I have given to God because I am such a holy worker.
- Aren’t we tempted in the same way when a special need of the church comes up, we give to it and subtract it from our regular contribution?
- Perhaps not us, but I have heard of people doing so.
6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
- But you say (Jesus speaking) “well, we have this other command.”
- What is the word of God here – the 4th commandment
- See what they have done? They made something above the commandments.
- Pastors can be just as guilty – spending all of their time in ministry and neglecting their families.
- Some great missionaries of the 19th century – left their wives and children in poverty to go on the mission field.
7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
- Again – the quotes keep coming from Isaiah.
- We will see plenty of “you hypocrites! In later chapters – especially 23.
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
- Giving Jesus lip service
9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
- Worship for the sake of worship is in vain.
- Just because something sounds good – sounds spiritual – sounds like good work – does not make it biblical or Christian.
- So many teach man’s view of God’s word.
Let’s look at an example of how some today teach traditions of man over the scriptures.
“This is my Body / this is my Blood”. Clear words spoken by Jesus himself – not someone quoting him years later. So, how do some in the church handle this? Do they see Jesus’ true Body and his true Blood present in the communion? No!
Why is this? Because the rational of man is that finite things like bread and wine cannot comprehend, or cannot contain, or cannot handle, the infinite or divine things. ‘My mind cannot figure this out, but I must figure out all scriptures as God would not tell me something in the scriptures that I would not understand – so here is my answer – Jesus was speaking in symbols.”
The traditions of man superseding the very words of God – how can this be? Do we believe Aristotle or do we believe Jesus?
This is exactly what the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders did. The ‘commandments of men’ were not bad in themselves. The leader’s job was to help their people not sin – so they built a wall of smaller commandments around the 10 commandments (all of the Law) to keep the people from the grave sin.
How do you keep people from being drunkards? Don’t allow them to drink. How do you keep your people from lusting? Ban dancing. How to you keep your people from unwarranted gain? Forbid gambling.
So now drinking, dancing and gambling become the “laws” – not drunkenness, lusting or going after unwarranted gain.
What can you add to this list of modern day “commandments of men”?