Thesis: Tradition can be either good or bad.
1. Illust. At the Tower of London every afternoon at exactly 4:00 PM there is an interesting ceremony. The Beefeaters, British royalty's ceremonial guards, come out of the tower and feed the raven on the front lawn. There is a legend that as long as the ravens are fed, London would never fall to her enemies. During WW 2 and the Battle of Britian, when London was being bombed by the Nazis, the ravens were frightened away. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the Beefeaters to secretly clip the wings of the remaining ravens so they couldn't fly. Why? To provide a sense of stability and normalcy to Londoners in a troubled time.
2. Tradition! Tonight we want to explore what tradition is, how it affects us and what the Bible has to say about it.
I. WHAT IS TRADITION?
A. It is simply "That which is handed down from generation to generation."
1. Tradition provides a sense of identity.
a. Food we eat (Why do Italians eat spaghetti on Wednesdays?)
b. Way we speak (Why do Mainers say, "Ayuh?"; Southerners: "Y'all")
c. Types of houses (Certain styles more popular in diff. places).
2. Tradition usually goes unquestioned.
a. Good reason--it works!
b. Tradition isn't the sort of thing we give a lot of thought to.
c. Illust. In a popular play a few years ago, the opening scene shows a man standing on a roof playing a fiddle. What helps him keep his balance & keeps him from falling off as he scratches out his little tune? TRADITION! is the reply. Tevke, the leading character in the "Fiddler on the Roof," is asked how Jews in Russia maintain identity in a time of change. "Tradition," is the reply. Then asked where it came from. "I will tell you," he says. "I don't know!"
B. Tradition is neither good or bad--it just is. We are accustomed to bashing tradition. This is good only if you value instability!
II. WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT TRADITION.
A. NT speaks of tradition in a good light:
1. 2 Thess. 2:15--"Stand firm and hold to the TEACHINGS (or "traditions") we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."
2. 2 Thess. 3:6--"Keep away from every brother who is idle and doesn't live acc. to the TEACHING (trad.) you rec'd from us."
B. Jesus did many things for which the only authority is tradition!
1. Attending the synagogue (Luke 4:16).
a. Synagogue & worship is traditional.
b. Not mentioned once in the Law or entire OT.
2. Giving thanks before eating (Matt. 14:19).
a. Not a part of the Law.
b. Purely, 100% Jewish tradition.
3. Singing a hymn at end of Passover meal (Matt. 26:30).
a. Not part of Law regarding Passover observance.
b. Jewish tradition.
4. The Feast of Dedication (John 10:22).
a. This is "Hannukah." Celebrated the cleansing of temple in 165 B.C. by Maccabees after Ant. Epiphanes desecration.
b. Was Jesus keeping the Feast of Dedication? Is there any reason why he would not have? Does this have any implication for modern observances of holidays not specifically mentioned in Scripture?
III. TWO EXTREMES REGARDING TRADITION.