Jan 082017

Matthew 15:1-9

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.

“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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

  • Giving Jesus lip service

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”?



  7 Responses to “The Weekend Word”

  1. One of the things that the tradition did was, instead of treating the 10 Commandments as a unity of God’s Law, they broke it apart and thereby created a conflict between the 1st Commandment and the second table (i.e., for Lutherans, Commandments 4-10). Then, they prioritized the 1st Commandment over the Commandments in the second table.

    We see a similar type of thing happening today in liberal churches when they prioritize “love of neighbor” over other laws, such as those dealing with human sexuality, marriage and divorce, and qualifications for pastor.

  2. Contradiction here?

    [i]”29“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”]/i]- Luke 18

    Yet, 1 Timothy 5:8: [i]Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.[/i]

  3. Victor – I would suggest you go back and read each book in context to see if they are speaking of the same thing. Although the words sound familiar and similar, they may be answering 2 different issues..

  4. So now drinking, dancing and gambling become the “laws” – not drunkenness, lusting or going after unwarranted gain.

    FWIW – i think that observation is dated… not many churches will condemn drinking, dancing or gambling today… what i seem to see from what i read here on the Phxp the new law is no sick people allowed… this is a resort, not a rest home 🙂 dunno – just seems that way

    Victor’s question requires a little discernment… i think (not a teacher talking) that Jesus was saying if your family bucks and undermines your walk and you have to separate from them to stay “alive,” God sees and counts your sacrifice of your earth bound comforts… on the other hand, if you use your supposed dedication to God to neglect those who are your kin when they have a need you can and should supply, then you’re NOT walking the walk – just seems that way to me – dunno

  5. Em, the point is that people just make up their own laws. There is not now nor in the past anything sinful about drinking, dancing or gambling. People made up those new laws in an effort to keep people from breaking the real sin laws – drunkenness, lusting or going after unwarranted gain.

    This is what the Pharisees did – hand washing was not a law — but they made it and other things law in an effort to keep people from breaking God’s actual commands.

    Jesus was busting them for this and turning the tables on them.

  6. hmmm… point is that there are precious few pursuits in life that man can’t distort and one can go mad making rules … well … maybe not “making” them, but enforcing them

    where the Faith is concerned, it isn’t the law that is the problem – it does what it was put in place to do… but man is cursed with the delusional – he has the ability to out-think himself when trying to improve on the basics of what God is doing

    what’d she say? dunno 🙂

  7. em, read Jesus in the passage – he is saying the same as I am.

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