May 2 2013
Matthew 15:1-13, 16:5-12
Jesus often got angry with the religious leaders of his day. One of the things that angered him most was their traditions. Their traditions were their rules and practices that they imposed on everyone based on their interpretation of scripture. On one occasion Jesus said to them, “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your traditions.” This was when the Pharisees accused him and his disciples of not washing their hands before eating. There is no command in scripture telling ordinary Jews to do this. The priests were to wash their hands before starting work in the temple each day and some of this work involved handling food, but the Pharisees had transferred this command to everyone. It was a typical example of the law being taken beyond what was intended by those who were zealous to uphold it.
We don’t think of the modern church as having traditions, especially one’s that nullify the word of God, but we do! We have our own extra-biblical ideas of what we consider clean and unclean, and like the Pharisees we place unnecessary burdens on the people we are trying to reach. I would like to discuss two traditions found in most of our Evangelical churches that really bother me.