The Word This Week

Matt 15:1…

Religious tradition has probably played a larger part in our lives than we would care to admit.

Certainly, when Jesus came into the world He created, part of what He came to accomplish was to eradicate religious traditions which violated God’s commandments – especially those commandments designed to demonstrate God’s love.

By this time in history, the Jewish leaders had made a ritual out of washing their hands as a means of demonstrating their ceremonial cleanliness. This ritual they adopted was apparently very similar to the manner we see doctors and nurses practicing the washing of their hands prior to performing surgery in our day.

While this tradition may have begun as a sacred practice to indicate spiritual cleansing from the world, it had become a means of bludgeoning people they saw as violating the ‘tradition of the elders,’ which they somehow now saw as being equal to or even superior God’s commandments.

Jesus cut them to the quick over their examination of His disciples and judging them for not keeping the tradition they deemed themselves as keeping. This one tradition represented much in their eyes, and the ingenuine concern they voiced to Jesus presented Jesus the opportunity to set them and us straight about how God values our religious traditions which are befouled constructs of how we and others are to keep God’s Word.

While they may have religiously kept this tradition of the elders - and judged others for not doing so - they themselves were guilty of violating God’s commandment, which Jesus assures us is far more damaging to themselves than unwashed hands could ever be.

The stark contrast between the ‘tradition of the elders’ and God’s commandment is on full display here, and this is but a single example of how this sort of thing has always infected God’s people.

How could they have clean hands when they are not caring for their mothers and fathers? Jesus judged them guilty of a far greater crime, and He meant to cause the kind of offense which would sting them in return for the kind of sting they meant for His disciples – and it was meant for all of us to be stung as we examine ourselves for those places in our lives where religious tradition may have taken the place of loving relationship with God.

Pastor Bill