Summary: Challenging the believer to walk outside their comfort zone
From the Inside Out
We all like it when things are neat and tidy. We all want order in our lives. We like to come into church on Sunday morning and getting the bulletin and knowing what to expect when. We have announcements then we pray, then we sing, then we take up the offering and finally I get up here and preach…we like order in our lives. That is what the Pharisees were like. They had their way of doing things, and no one would tell them any different. To break away from their traditions, from their routine was blasphemy in their eyes.
We have a Godly woman in this church, and I have talked with her before bringing this up, she has through the Spirit of God received the gift of praying in another language. Well that goes against some of our traditions. She does so quietly so as not to offend anyone, but how would you feel if you overheard her? Would you freak out just a little bit? What if while praying I began to pray in other tongues, what would you do?
Scripture says: For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 1 Corinthians 14:14-15
Now understand this sermon is not about the gifts of the Spirit. We are not going to change the sign out front to TWPC. But, want you, as I preach God’s Word this morning to look at the traditions in your walk with Him. He wants to challenge you to walk outside your comfort zone. The problem with rules and traditions is that they are a substitute for thought – a way to bypass our ability to learn from scripture the fullness that God has for each of us.
That was the problem with the Pharisees and that is sometimes our problem too. We create rules that govern behavior, but then create ways to leak around the edges of those rules to enable the flesh. Today, Jesus turns the tables on external rules:
VV 1-4: Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
Apparently the Pharisees in the marketplace would immerse their hands in water, then have pure water poured over them from a purified vessel. They were known for their elaborate rituals of hand-washing – anything to be ceremonially clean. They didn’t do this because God commanded them to, when He told them to be clean He meant in the spirit. They did this to impress the people around them…”Look how religious I am!”
V 5: Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
We think it laughable that the Pharisees would pick at Jesus for not following hand washing exactly the way they prescribed? But do we not do the same sometimes?
- What about versions of the Bible. The only accurate “version” is in Hebrew Greek and Aramaic
- How about are you dunked or sprinkled? I believe in baptism by immersion but I know a whole lot of sprinkled folks that have a wonderful relationship with God.
- How about always ending prayers with “in Jesus name” or they won’t be answered?
These sound silly too, and they are. Hut thay are also dangerous. You see anything that we can hide They are also dangerous because anything that we can hide behind in order keep us from being vulnerable to God will keep us from the fullness of our lives that He has for us. We are fooled into thinking that by following the tradition we somehow earn brownie points with God – but God is interested in what goes on inside our hearts, in our spirit. Not with our hands being cleansed in a certain way, or that we follow some formula for worshipping Him.
VV 6-8: He answered and 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.