Good morning, are you ready for our journey to continue? I missed our walk for the past few days and I am ready to go this morning. As we come to the seventh chapter of Mark, we walk up on this Jesus as he is teaching those who are following Him. Pull up a rock, lie back on the grass or the soft sand as we listen and learn from this Teacher as He instructs His students about:
- Mark 7:1-13, The truth about traditions
- Mark 7:14-23, What really defiles a person
After these lessons, we join Jesus as he journeys on. Soon we see His compassion as he helps those who are suffering:
- Mark 7:24-30, The faith of a Gentile woman shames the faith of many, and Jesus casts out a demon for her.
- Mark 7:31-37. Jesus heals one who is deaf.
“Tradition . . . Tradition!” sings Tevye in The Fiddler on the Roof. Traditions can be helpful. Traditions bind social groups together. Traditions hold an important place in families. My family has traditions, some are nearly sacred. Each
year, when my side of the family gathers for our Christmas meal, there is one thing that is always present. Ever since anyone can remember, my family starts dinner with bowl of gumbo containing chicken, oysters, shrimp, and seasoned with lots of file’ served over rice. This recipe was my great-grandmother’s recipe (she was from southern Louisiana). My grandmother prepared it when I was little, my mother and her sister took over when I was in high school, now my wife and both of my sisters-in-law have had their turns preparing this traditional “Christmas Gumbo.” The few Christmases we skipped the gumbo, seemed, well wrong.
Churches have traditions. Where we worship, we have a new tradition for us. Our men who lead in worship gather in a classroom to make sure everyone is in place and then we pray together before we go out to serve in worship. We did not do this when we first moved here 15 years ago, we began it when we moved into our new building in 2004. We like this tradition, we hope it continues for generations to come.
In Mark 7 we see that the Pharisees had their traditions; they washed their hands before they ate. Come to think of it, I do the same thing for health reasons. Washing hands is not a bad thing, it is really a good thing. But the problem with traditions is when we bind traditions as law and judge people based on our traditions. The Pharisees considered their traditions equal with God’s Law. When the disciples of Jesus did not ceremonially wash before eating, the Pharisees considered that a crime against Judaism and the God of Judah. It would be like my church family condemning yours because you do not gather to organize and pray before worship. It would be similar to me telling you that if you do not have the exact gumbo I do you are not having real gumbo and that if you do not have it at Christmas, then you are not celebrating Christmas correctly.
By the way, the Pharisees also used traditions to circumvent God’s Law. Jesus pointed out how they neglected their parents by twisting the Law of Moses to their advantage.
“Tradition . . . Tradition!”
- Traditions do not over-rule God.
- Traditions are not binding.
- Traditions, if we are not careful, can become the doctrine of men that hinders others from finding God.
And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mar 7:6-7)
Is my heart (is your heart) near to God or do we just give Him lip service? How is your walk?