Summary: An examination of traditions that concludes: traditions can have good beginnings and can protect the truth, but they are a stumbling block when given the same attention as God's word
Introduction - It's 1903. Russian czar Nicholas II notices a sentry posted on the Kremlin grounds for no apparent reason. After some hunting around he finds why. 127 years earlier, In 1776, Catherine the Great had discovered the first flower of spring on that spot. She gave an order: "Post a sentry here so that no one tramples that flower under foot!" So for 127 years, there had been a sentry posted there.
Ill –There was a small town Catholic church in upstate New York. They'd had a rector in that church for over 35 yrs. He was loved by the church and the community. After he retired, he was replaced by a young priest. It was his first church; he had a great desire to do well. He’d been at the church several weeks when he began to feel like the people were upset at him. He was troubled.
He called aside one of the leaders of the church and said, "I don't know what's wrong, but I have a feeling that there's something wrong."
He said, "Well, Father that's true. I hate to say it, but it's the way you do the Communion service."
"The way I do the Communion service? What do you mean?"
"Well, it's not so much what you do as what you leave out."
"I don't think I leave out anything from the Communion service."
"Oh yes, you do. Just before our previous rector administered the chalice and wine to the people, he'd always go over and touch the radiator. And, then, he would "
"Touch the radiator? I never heard of that liturgical tradition."
So the priest called the former rector. He said, "I haven't even been here a month, and I'm in trouble."
"In trouble? Why?"
"Well, it's something to do with touching the radiator. Could that be possible? Did you do that?"
"Oh yes, I did. Always before I administered the chalice to the people, I touched the radiator to discharge the static electricity so I wouldn't shock them."
For over 35 years, the untutored people of his congregation had thought that was a part of some holy tradition. That church has now gained the name, "The Church of the Holy Radiator."
We're looking at a concept, and a word, that means "to hand something down." Being the youngest of 6 kids, I can tell you all about hand-me-downs. Mom thought they were great – most parents do. Sometimes, as a kid getting them, I thought they were great too. Other times I wasn’t so thrilled. Hand-me-downs have their value, and they have their downside too. What should we do with them?
In this text of Scripture (MK 7) Jesus gives us some instruction concerning hand-me-downs.
I want us to leave this morning understanding 3 imperatives:
I. Value What Has Been Handed Down To Us
Ill – I’ll never forget the batman suit. My sister had sewn it for my brother Ken’s birthday. For sometime, my brother had worn the venerated costume. He had the edge when it came to fighting imaginary bad guys. In fact, as I recall, he always had special privileges and powers when we were playing just because he was Batman and I wasn’t! Finally, Kenny John outgrew the gray sweatshirt, the blue hood with the ears and eyeholes, and the cape. I was the logical recipient. That was one hand-me-down I valued.
Hand-me-downs can be valuable! In fact, there are several places in the NT where the value of something handed down is immeasurable!
(Lk 1:1-2) "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
(1 Co 11:2) "I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you"
(v23) "I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you"
(15:3) For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
(2 Thes 2:15) "stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you,"
(2 Tim 2:2) "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."
In one sense, we should be very thankful for what has been handed down to us. I praise the Lord for the people who faithfully wrote and then copied down the Scriptures so that we have them today. That's something that has been handed down to us, unlike anything else, because it's authoritative and came directly from the hand of God. But I'm thankful for the way it has been handed down.