1. As most of you know, the consistory has been going through a time of self-examination for both themselves and the church. As part of that examination we came up with a list of seven corporate sins that we as a congregation share. These are sins that are prevalent in our church. That does not mean that each individual personally commits these sins, but corporately we do and therefore they affect the entire church. As a consistory we will seek ways of confessing these sins and being set free from them.
2. One of the sins that we were convicted of was what we called "religiosity and fear of people, including tradition." This morning we are going to take a look at the sin of tradition.
3. Your first reaction may be to say "wait a minute, who says tradition is a sin?" "After all, is tradition not that which allows us to keep the things that we cherish? Does tradition not enable us to carry on the faith of our fathers? Is tradition not that which is constant in this changing world? What is wrong with tradition? What is wrong with singing Ere Zij God each Christmas or celebrating the Lord’s Supper on Good Friday or having the consistory enter church from this door each Sunday? Some of these are cherished traditions in our church.
4. Y you are partly right. Tradition does not need to be a sin. But it so easily becomes a sin.
5. And a tradition may not be a sin for one person and yet be a sin for another. And that is why I will not stand here this morning and give you a list a traditions that are sins. You are going to have to decide that for yourselves.
6. Which traditions are sins? The waim2.htmlraditions were taught in the schools and synagogues along with the Hebrew Scriptures. In 200AD these teachings were written down in the Mishna. These interpretations and applications were quite extensive. And they were expected to be followed just as the word of God.
5. Jesus’ disciples were accused of breaking one of these traditions. They did not wash their hands before they ate. It is a good thing to wash our hands before we eat and I would not want children going home and saying that Pastor John, or more importantly, Jesus, now says they do not have to wash their hands before they eat. But the tradition was not concerned with hygiene but rather that which was considered God’s law. In Exodus 30:17-21 Aaron and his sons were ordered to wash their hands before they performed their duties in the tabernacle. But nowhere did God make a law that all were to wash hands before eating. The Pharisees extended the rule for the priest to all the people.
6. Jesus makes it very clear that the tradition of the elders is wrong and I would say is a sin. And as we see the reasons why, let us consider if any of our traditions can be judged in the same way.
7. In vs. 3 Jesus begins his response.
"And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?"
Jesus makes it clear that there is a difference between their tradition and the command or law of God. We sin when we equate man-made rules with God’s law. When we add to God’s word.
Mat 23:4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them..
And as we will see, by placing these burdens or traditions on others, they fail to let others see what following Jesus is really all about.
Do we sometimes equate our traditions, our expectations with the word of God? Or treat them as important? Or place burdens on others that God has not placed on them?
9. Second, tradition becomes a sin when our tradition goes against God’s word.
Jesus is accused of breaking tradition. He is really breaking tradition for the sake of the command of God. He did that when He healed on the Sabbath. It is right to break tradition for the sake of the command of God. But He says that they do the opposite. And that is wrong. They break the command of God or nullify the word of God for the sake of their tradition. And Jesus places an example before them.
The law of God says "Honour your father and mother." Our outer actions toward them should come from an inner attitude and desire to honour them. This includes looking after one’s parents when they were old and unable to look after themselves. Providing for them when they need help. But the Pharisees found a way to circumvent this command. When the parents would need support, their children could tell them that the money or resources they had were pledged as a gift or an offering to God, to the temple. According to the tradition of the elders, this would release the child from his parents’ need. And this was used as an excuse, even if the offering was not really pledged. The tradition enabled children to break the command to honour their parents. And I know that God comes before our parents, but this does not mean that we give to God that which would be needed to take care of them.