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Confronting Tradition

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:15
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What would your reaction be if someone walked into this room at the beginning of the service and interrupt by asking, “Why is your pastor not wearing his robes?”
Or maybe at the beginning of Communion and asking, “Why are you not sitting around a table as Jesus did with His disciples during the last supper?”
Let’s read our passage today,

Mark 7:1-13

Once again the Pharisees and some scribes travel from Jerusalem so they can confront this new upstart rabbi, Jesus who has now reached His zenith in popularity.
We talk about the Pharisees as if they controlled Judaism for all of Israel. In reality, they weren’t in control. They were one of the groups who sought to control it but just one of them. Since they wanted control, they were very diligent and public about their view of Judaism.
Before jumping into confronting traditions, let’s understand the Pharisees and why they had traditions first. It is easy to sit here today, look back at the Pharisees and see how they supplanted their traditions for God’s Command. What can be difficult is to look at ourselves and not follow the Pharisees in their mistakes. I think if we understand them better, we will understand ourselves better as well.
A major concern of the Pharisees was purity.
They desired to remain pure in their pursuit of God.

How to go from pursuing God to following traditions.

How did the Pharisees get the tradition of washing hands from the Bible?

Exodus 30:19-21

Exodus required only priests who worked in the tabernacle to wash their hands. As priests, they and their families were allowed to share in the food used for sacrifices in the tabernacle but only when all were ceremonially clean.
Leviticus 19:2 NASB95
“Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
The Pharisees took God at His word and believed everyone was to be holy.
The question for them to answer is, how can I be holy?

How can I be holy?

What can I do or not do so that I remain holy as God has told me to do? It is a simple step from this question to start listing what a person can do and what a person should refrain from doing to be holy, to be ceremonially clean, to be pure.
A way the Pharisees developed for the average every day Jew was to wash their hands before eating because they should consider everything as a gift from God.
This is a simplified explanation of going from the commands of God to traditions but we still follow the same process today.
We are told in the Bible to continue to work out our salvation, to be holy because God is holy. James tells us faith without works is dead and if you want to see faith then look at a person’ works.
But the question is, how do we do these things? How do we work out our salvation?
We each have a list in our minds when we think of what we can do to demonstrate our faith.

How do I demonstrate my faith?

What would you tell someone who asked you this question?
Maybe we try to answer it with Scripture.
Micah 6:8 NASB95
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
Or maybe you give them some more practical examples to follow.
Go to church,
Read your Bible,
Pray,
Meditate
Show compassion to others
None of these things are bad. As a matter of fact, I recommend each of them to you. All of them will help you grow as well as help others see your walk.
in our passage, Jesus doesn’t say that traditions are wrong or bad. He doesn’t say we shouldn’t have traditions.
Every community will develop traditions. Traditions are formed around the understanding of the Word of God. They’re a way of understanding, interpreting and applying the Word to our daily lives.
For us, traditions tend to end up in our creeds, doctrine and the way we conduct church, even how we conduct the Sacraments.
So, if traditions aren’t bad, what exactly is Jesus confronting?

So what?

In verse 5, the Pharisees and scribes call their tradition, “the tradition of the elders.” In verse 8, Jesus refers to the traditions as “the tradition of men.” The Pharisees would tell us their traditions come from their elders, meaning, ultimately, they were based on Scripture. Jesus doesn’t refute their basis in Scripture.
The trouble isn’t the tradition but the people. Whenever we turn our traditions into something more critical to keep than the Word of God we have followed the Pharisees and Isa 29:13 begins to refer to us.
Isaiah 29:13 NASB95
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
How do we prevent our traditions from becoming the traditions of men? F. F. Bruce said:
“My doctrine of Scripture is based on my study of Scripture, not vice versa.” ― F.F. Bruce
Tradition should be formed by the Word and rely on the Word.
Dr Garland used the example of the blue crab to explain it. Every so often, the blue crab must shed its shell in order to grow. Eventually it will create another shell but until then remains vulnerable. If the shell becomes too rigid, the crab cannot grow and will remain in that shell until it dies.
We too must always evaluate what we do and why we do it with Scripture. Sometimes a tradition must be shed in order for the people of God to grow in the Word of God.
As we prepare to meet Christ at His table, let us join Him, not through tradition but in the newness of life.
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