Summary: A sermon for the 13th Sunday after pentecost Proper 17
13th Sunday after Pentecost
"Am I a Religious or a Christian Person?"
7:1* ¶ Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem,
2* they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed.
3* (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders;
4* and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.)
5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?”
6* And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
7* in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
8* You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.”
14* And he called the people to him again, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand:
15 there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.”
21* For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,
22* coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”
Grace and peace to your from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
One of my favorite plays of Fiddler on the Roof. In the opening scene, you hear that famous music and yo see a fiddler on a roof, then Tevye walks onto the stage, points to the fiddler and say: " A fiddle on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant,m simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay here it it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep out balance? That I can tell you in a word -- TRADITION ----. Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance, for many, many years. Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything -- how we eat, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this traditions start? I’ll tell you -- I don’t know. But it’s a tradition. Because or our traditions everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do"
Then the whole village comes out and sing that haunting song, Tradition.
Traditions for Tevye was important even though he didn’t know why or where the traditions came from. They were important. This fact is seen throughout the whole play. Tevye was a religious man in that he kept the traditions even when they did more harm than good.
I began this sermon talking about traditions and Tevye, because that is exactly what our gospel lesson is about this morning, keeping the traditions of the elders. As it says in our Gospel lesson: And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?”
Then Jesus goes on to point our to theses men there is a difference in traditions or religion. Jesus says that is what he came for. Jesus came to establish a relationship with Him, so one could worship the Father not the traditions of the past. Being religious means it is an end in itself. Christianity is a means to an end, a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is the difference between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees. The Pharisees turned what was suppose to be worship of God into an end in and of itself. They were religious for religious sake.
But Jesus is saying worship of God is a means to an end, a relationship with Him plus a relationship with your fellow human beings. So the question can be asked of us. Am I a religious person, where religion is an end in and of itself. Or am I a Christian person where I am led by a relationship of Jesus and God and my neighbor.
Let us explore that question in the next few moments.