The Heart of the Matter.
The Sunday Morning of Power House (back at the beginning of november) I was sitting in the auditorium of the Fairfax Church of Christ worshiping when Bruce Black got up to preach. His sermon was on being clean and holy as one of God's people. As the text was read I realized that I had missed a meal. I am not talking about breakfast but about one of the Meals of Jesus I have been writing about. So today I am going to explore a missed meal.
The story begins with some Pharisees and Teachers of the Law come down from Jerusalem and are gathered around Jesus. They notice that Jesus disciples are eating with unclean hands. Not that they didn't wash the dirt of their hands but that their hands were not ceremonially clean. Concerned about this they go to Jesus and ask him two questions. First they ask him why his disciples eat with unclean hands? Secondly they ask him why they don't keep the traditions of the elders.
Jesus turns to them and instead of answering the questions they ask he goes to the issue under the questions. Their concern for ceremonial cleaness and traditions is a sympton of the fact that the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law have set aside the commands of God for the traditions of men. He says “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”
He confronts them about their hypocrisy of worrying about the disciples keeping a tradition of men. While they ignore God's direct command for children to honor their parents. In doing so he tells them that they are nullifying the word of God by their traditions.
All churches have traditions. They are the forms in which the commands and teachings of the LORD and his son Jesus Christ give us. The traditions are not the commands but the forms we give them in our churches. For instance, it is our tradition to serve the LORD's Supper on trays with men carrying them down the aisle to everyone. Other churches have people come up to a central table and take the elements for themselves. While other churches have you go to a station and have the LORD's Supper their. Which of these is commanded by God? None of them and all of them at the same time. The forms are not commanded but the act of taking the LORD's Supper is commanded.
Each of us has our own traditions based on the commands and teachings of our God and his Son Jesus Christ. For instance we are commanded to be holy but how do we live that holiness out? Somethings are taught to us but somethings we have to figure out for ourselves. So have creat our own form and tradition. So some of us abstain from seeing rated r movies, some don't read romance novels, some of us only listen to Christian musice and some of us don't watch any tv. Are these specifically commanded for us to do? No, but they are forms we use to be holy.
One of the things Jesus is teaching us in this passage is that we need to keep perspective. The commands of God are paramount over the traditions we use as a church and as individuals.