Faithlife Sermons

When Tradition Trumps Faith

Follow the King   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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If we're not careful, we can let traditionalism become more important than the life-changing power of the Gospel.

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Introduction

First church - twenty-one years old. No experience - pastor no experience either. Went from a traditional church to contemporary in a week. Not a good idea.
Nothing wrong with traditions in our Christian faith. Traditions can be very helpful. They can take us back to moments in our journey with God that were meaningful, where we experienced life transformation. What are your traditions? Answer… It feels like church when… I feel Christian when…
Traditions can be helpful. Traditions can be good. Difference between traditions and traditionalism. Traditionalism = An adherence to traditions rather than to Christ. Traidtionalism says, “You can’t be a Christian unless you uphold these man-made traditions, rituals, etc.”
Traditions can be helpful. Traditions can be good. Difference between traditions and traditionalism. Traditionalism = An adherence to traditions rather than to Christ. Traidtionalism says, “You can’t be a Christian unless you uphold these man-made traditions, rituals, etc.”
Looking at three stories this morning where Jesus goes toe to toe with the Pharisees. Pharisees = a highly influential religious sect that had been around for about 200 years. Approx. 6,000 pharisees - 1% of the population - had great influence on the common people. Sadducees = aristocrats. Scribes = intellectual elite. Pharisees = Ordinary men with a commitment to the Torah - so much that they developed “the tradition of the elders.” - rituals, laws, and practices in addition to the Laws that God had given Moses to aid you in keeping God’s law. And, they imposed these traditions on others. Some time after Jesus’ ministry, the oral traditions were written down - this written collection of the tradition of the elders is called the mishnah. In Mark’s Gospel, we discover that Jesus has come to shatter traditionalism and show us that tradition doesn’t trump faith; rather faith trumps tradition.
Maybe you have some traditions. Or, maybe you have a tendency to gravitate toward traditionalism. Let me show you three dangers of allowing traditions to trump faith.

You can’t experience the new when you’re stuck in the old.

You’re probably aware that
Pharisees suspicious - Jesus doesn’t seem as serious about the things of God as they are - His followers are having too much fun.
Pharisees suspicious - Jesus doesn’t seem as serious about the things of God as they are.
Pharisees demonstrated devotion to God through fasting (abstaining from food as a sign of mourning or dependency on God). Fasted 2x a week from sun up to sundown. OT didn’t require weekly fasts - only one fast on the Day of Atonement. () However, people voluntarily fasted in the OT - often after natural disaster, time of difficulty (war), or simply a voluntary fast for personal matters.
Pharisees tradition was 2x a week as a way of demonstrating piety. To be a good Jew, you fasted. Self-righteousness at its finest. “I deserve a place in heaven because of my righteousness.”
John’s disciples fasting - John pointed them to Jesus, but they remained stuck in old ways.
Why don’t Jesus’ disciples fast? This is a time for celebration; not fasting. Disciples would fast later - (when Christ no longer physically present) - but not now. The King is here! It’s time to celebrate. Like a wedding celebration: you don’t fast at a wedding! You eat lots of cake!
Two worlds colliding - The religious way - a way of traditions and rituals - In order to be right with God you must… Jesus’ way… You can’t be right with God! That’s why I’m here! Celebrate! I’m going to do for you what you can’t do for yourself! (Hudson wanting to help Luke in a game… Jesus came to play the game for you, not help you play…)
Traditionalism and faith don’t go together! Two illustrations: if you put new, unshrunk on an old garment, it will tear off the old garment as it shrinks. If you put new wine into old, worn out wineskins, they will burst! You need a new wineskins to hold the new wine!
The old and new don’t mix! The old says, “In order to be right with God, I must...” The new says, “I can’t… I need Jesus...” The two don’t mix!
Lasting joy is in the new, not the old. If you’re always saying, “I must…” you’ll be miserable and always wondering if you’re doing enough. If you say, “I can’t...” you’ll find the joy of trusting Christ who has already done. You can’t experience the new when you’re stuck in the old.
We gravitate to checklists - read my Bible, go to church, pray, give, etc. That may be the fruit of a new life, but it’s not how you get new life. Jesus has checked off everything on the list for you.
- read my Bible, go to church, pray, give, etc. That may be the fruit of a new life, but it’s not how you get new life. Jesus has checked off everything on the list for you.
We gravitate to rules -

You can’t experience rest when you’re always working.

You can’t embrace the new when you’re stuck in the old - and the Pharisees were stuck…
Jesus and his disciples plucking heads of grain as they walked through grainfields. According to the OT Law, field owners were to leave the corners of their fields unharvested, so that the poor could come along and freely harvest from the corners. So, Jesus’ isn’t stealing someone’s grain, but He is harvesting on the Sabbath.
Significance of Sabbath in Judaism - Sundown on Friday to Sundown on Sat. - remembering God’s rest.
The scribes classified 39 different kinds of work you couldn’t do on the Sabbath, and grain picking was one of them! (Other sabbath laws - how far you could walk, don’t tear - you’d need to prepare your toilet paper on Friday, can’t make two loops - wear velcro tennis shoes, no extinguishing a fire, no kindling a fire (can’t turn on a light switch), don’t carry a load, sabbath elevator, etc.) It’s crushing! Supposed to be a day of rest, but it ends up being a day of work as you work to remember what you can’t do!
Jesus asks, “Do you remember David?” - on the run from King Saul - had been anointed the future king by Samuel - comes to the priest in the tabernacle - he’s hungry, and he has men who are hungry. All the priest has is bread that was put on the table of showbread - this was sacred bread that symbolized God’s desire to fellowship with His people. But only the priests were allowed to eat it. Priest gives it to David.
Jesus is the one from the lineage of David - the greater King. What’s his point? People matter more than man-made rules and traditions. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” God designed the Sabbath for our benefit - to show us we need rest. Ultimately, the Sabbath points us to Jesus - the One who provides real rest by forgiving us for our sins and bringing us into a relationship with the Father.
But more than resting in Christ and enjoying intimacy with Him, we like to define Christianity by checklists, rules, and traditions:
Checklists - In order for God to accept me, I must read the Bible every day, pray every day, give, serve in the nursery, etc. I must do… Good things - fruit of a changed life, but not how you find favor in the eyes of God. Jesus has completed the checklist for you. You are accepted by God because of what He’s done.
Checklists - (Tell me what I must do) In order for God to accept me, I must read the Bible every day, pray every day, give, serve in the nursery, etc. I must do… Good things - fruit of a changed life, but not how you find favor in the eyes of God. Jesus has completed the checklist for you. You are accepted by God because of what He’s done. (Staci - 10,000 steps.... I HAVE to meet the goal)
Rules - (Tell me what I can’t do) No tattoos, women can’t wear pants, men can’t have long hair, no mixed bathing, be at church every Sunday and Wednesday, never play travel ball, never drink alcohol, homeschool is God’s only way to educate your children, etc. Hold convictions, but don’t impose opinions.
Traditions - (I have to have _______ to feel Christian) I can’t worship God if the church doesn’t sing my kind of music. It’s not a real church if there’s no steeple. It’s not a real church if the preacher doesn’t wear a suit.
Our checklists, rules, and tradition becomes an unwritten law as to how we must live to be “real Christians” and it’s exhausting! There’s no rest! The Pharisees were keeping the people from resting. Jesus is the substance of our faith! Not man-made traditions and rules!
BUT, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. Talk about a shocking statement! He has authority, not the Pharisees! And, Jesus IS the Sabbath! Jesus did not come to weigh us down with more religious stuff to do in an attempt to please God. He’s come to set us free! To give us rest! Ultimately, we find real Sabbath in Jesus! Jesus does all the work for us so we can freely enter a relationship with God without having to work for it. Jesus offers us the invitation to rest and enjoy our God! You can’t experience rest when you’re always working.

You can’t experience restoration when you’re always resisting.

Sabbath made for man - Pharisees twisted Sabbath through rules - But people are more important than rules. It’s easy to love your religion more than the people the religion is supposed to be for. This is the Pharisees, but it’s not Jesus!
Man with withered hand - Pharisees watching… Tension. They already see Jesus as a lawbreaker. They know He’s a miracle worker as well.
“Do you do good or harm on the Sabbath?” If Jesus has ability to heal, harmful to leave this man in this condition even if it violated Sabbath rules. Luke “right hand.” Withered hand has kept him from working.
Jesus grieved at the hardness of Pharisees hearts. They’re always resisting.
Resisting really knowing the love of God.
Resisting humility. They have it all figured out.
Resisting compassion. They could care less about the needs of people. All they cared about was their appearance of self-righteousness.
Resisting restoration. Are you so stuck in your ways that you’re resisting restoration? “I’ll be a Jesus person, but it’s going to be on my terms; by my rules.”
Jesus heals the man because people matter more than rules. But, this concept that peoples matter more than rules was so foreign to the Pharisees that they would never experience restoration - renewal - real life. So foreign that they would seek to destroy Jesus by teaming up with the Herodians.
But, the cross was not the Pharisees victory. It was Jesus’ victory. At the cross, Jesus ultimately showed us that what matters is people finding restoration, wholeness, peace with God. And peace with God is not found through traditionalism, rules, and rituals. It’s found in the Lord of the Sabbath. It’s found in trusting that Jesus’ death was for you - that on the cross He accomplished everything necessary to make you right before God. It’s trusting that He rose from the dead freeing us from every sin that entangled us. Don’t trust in your efforts. Trust in His. It is finished.
Unbeliever: we’re not inviting you to a lifeless, ritualistic religion but a life-changing relationship.
Believer:
Enjoy the gift. You can’t enjoy when you’re always worrying if you’ve done enough to make God happy! How do you enjoy? Get to know Jesus, His teachings, His way of life, and follow Him.
Major in grace. Quit calling people to conform to your standard and invite people to find joy in conforming to Christ.
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