Summary: Guess who’s come for a visit? It’s the big whigs from denominational headquarters. Isn’t it sad that Jesus had more problems w/ the religious than the lost? They made it all an outward matter and not an inward experience. Link inc. to text, audio, and Ppt

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Truth or Tradition?

Matthew 15:1-20

Guess who popped in for a visit? It’s the scribes and Pharisees … the big whigs from denominational headquarters in Jerusalem. They are likely part of the Sanhedrin, the heavy hitters if you will. They have come to Jesus on a fact finding mission, to try to validate whether they should put their approval on Him or not.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus had more problems w/ the religious people than the lost? They were a bur under His saddle His entire ministry, and then they were the ones who crucified Him. They made religion an outward matter and not an inward experience, and truth was trumped by tradition.

I don’t want to be a Pastor that honors tradition more than truth. And may our church never place truth in the back seat, giving tradition a hold of the wheel.

Many churches today are dying on the vine…bound and gagged by tradition, and no longer having the relevant impact Jesus charged us to have.

Now, not all tradition is bad. It’s when you are all tradition and exclude truth that I have a big problem.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

But tradition becomes a bad thing when it surpasses truth, and when it contradicts truth. We are not called to carry on traditions, but to proclaim the truth!

Our message should never change, but our methods MUST change, doing all we can to reach our world.

1. The Accusation of the Jews

v. 1-2 Did you really come all this way to talk about washing your hands before you eat? You have to understand some background to get it here:

From the days of Ezra until the time of Christ, the Jewish people had added to the Word of God much human interpretation and many man made laws. These became known as the traditions, and they were passed down from generation to generation, and more and more was added thru the years. These traditions were compiled into a book called the Mishna which got thicker and thicker and became very burdensome to the Jews to fulfill.

There were some outrageous traditions—

The Bible says to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. But the Mishna said on the Sabbath you could not wear your false teeth! If you wear false teeth tonite would you raise them in your hand…all across the room?! Maybe not!! They also said you couldn’t look into a mirror on the Sabbath, because you might see a gray hair and be tempted to pluck it out, and that would be work. You also could not spit into the dirt on that day, because it would make mud, and then you had done work.

One of the biggest concerns of the Mishna was ceremonially cleanness…whether or not something was kosher. They had intricate rituals for handwashing…things which are proven to have nothing to do w/ hygiene, and everything to do w/ tradition. It was religious hocus pocus. The mindset of the day said that when you slept demons rested on your hands, and if you ate your food w/out doing a certain ceremonially ritual you would get a demon inside of you. Here’s the system—you had to take a half eggshell of water and wash your left hand, palm up, letting the water run down your arm and drip off your elbow. If it didn’t drip off the elbow, your hand was not clean. Then, rinse and repeat on the other side! How was this good hygiene? It was not. Truth was trumped by tradition.

So, these religious leaders drop by for a visit, not interested in truth, but in whether their silly traditions were being followed. And in their minds, if Jesus didn’t follow their tradition, He was a heretic. And sadly today, many religious people are of the same brand, bound by traditions that are nowhere in the Bible, the one and only final authority for mankind!

This can range from something as categorically blasphemous as the Catholic Church with all of its man made doctrine and traditions to something that happens often in churches like ours. For instance, I know of a Pastor who was run off from his church. Why? I wondered. Was it adultery, or did he steal money? Was he teaching false doctrine? No, he moved the pulpit off the platform before a Christmas play without consulting with the deacons. Aaaarrrggh!

I heard of another church like ours where the Pastor said he’s having a hard time right now. He said they are having large crowds coming out, and he needed to make more room. He noticed that several people that winter would lay their coats beside them in the pew. He suggested that if they would hang them on the racks in the lobby it would make more room. Big mistake! At the next business meeting an elderly lady rose and said, “Preacher, I’ve been going to church here a long time, and we’ve been sitting by our coats for a long time, and my father before me sat by his coat, and preacher, I’m again’ this thing about hanging up our coats…I say if it was good enough for our fathers then it’s good enough for us!”

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