For The Sake Of…TRADITION!!
Posted on January 8, 2019 by Erin Culleny in Freedom Fighters
“Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” — Matthew 15:1-3 (NASB)
“And how do we keep our balance?” asks Tevye the Dairyman. Well he can pretty much tell you in one word…TRADITION!! And as the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” gets itself going, Tevye will go through the many things that traditions do to help the people who live in Anatevka, Ukraine, during the turn of the 20th century. “For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God.”
Ya gotta love the simplicity to it, however, as Tevye finishes his delivery of milk to his recent stop, he’ll continue. “You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you…I don’t know. But it’s a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” Dai, dai, dai, dai TRADITION!! Personally, I prefer, “If I were a rich man, yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum” but being a rich man isn’t where I’m going today. Anyway…
When I look at the account given to us in Matthew 15 on truth versus tradition, I’m left asking this question, “You guys walked all the way from Jerusalem to Gennesaret just to make sure folks were washing their hands before they ate?” That’s like a 75 mile walk back in those days…something about that just ain’t right. I mean, does having your hands physically clean show your devotion to God? Nah. Actually, what these religious leaders were doing was putting their “Oral Torah” (or Mishnah) in front of THE Torah and they were gonna remind Jesus of it.
The Mishnah was a gathering of rulings that previous rabbis made using the Torah as their guide. Stuff like, let’s say, not being allowed to have your false teeth in your mouth on the Sabbath. Since the basic Ten say remember to keep the Sabbath day and keep it holy meant no work was allowed to be done on it. So, if you woke up and grabbed your choppers and put them in mouth on the Sabbath you were working and deserved the death sentence as prescribed by THE Torah. The irony of this is the Roman Empire stripped Jewish courts from imposing the death penalty by the time Jesus has this encounter with those wacky Pharisees who walked 75 miles to check for clean hands. But it does raise a question…
How many of us have had folks come from all the way over there to all the way over here to tell you that, traditionally, you aren’t doing what qualifies a person to be part of the family of God? They don’t help you to focus on knowing and loving God but instead they got a list of rules you seemingly continue to break and it’s a good thing they showed up to remind you of them because if they didn’t you were doomed to hell fire. What nonsense, right?
Even though Jesus handled those guys who walked a long way just to give Him a hard time, He’ll still say this of them, “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14). He knew their deal…worshipping YHVH with lip service rather than with contrite hearts and they wanted people to join the chorus. Guess they felt superior when they kept rules and condemned others for their lack of doing the same. Jesus always made it clear that worship and devotion was relational and not some “strike a pose” because He’s looking. If you think God doesn’t know the difference you may wanna have that checked out.
I don’t think my friend, Tevye the dairyman, spent the entire musical invading his community in Anatevka with burdensome “TRADITIONS!!” On the contrary, you’ll see how he worked on relationships as well. Granted, he has his head covered as his prayer shawl decorates his waistline but I think Jesus would have found a friend in him. Tevye is as authentic in his approach to God as we should be.
Hey, there ain’t nothing wrong with having something around to remind you that you are a child of the Most-High, but I hope we can also understand that we can’t go all the way over there from all the way over here to make sure others are doing likewise. As my friend Tevye would misquote, “As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face.” Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) has been married for 25+ years (Kathy), has a married son (Kevin) and a daughter in college (Karen). He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “The Christian faith is not a business transaction. It’s not an arranged marriage where you receive a dowry of riches for compliance. Christianity only works if you’re in love. All relationships are enjoyable when you’re in love.” — Chris Hodges
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. – Genesis 2:7