I remember, when I was about twelve, when my dad came in from sea, and took the family out to see ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’. It was a really long movie, but this song seems appropriate to share before I begin today’s teaching: TRADITION!
In Revelation we read:
Re 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
In today’s reading, we see Jesus dealing with religious traditions of the scribes and Pharisees:
Matt 15:1 ¶ Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Clearly, there is a difference between religious traditions and cultures, languages, and tribes!
In this account, I imagine Jesus, who had held his peace, for the 30 some odd years that he was in the earth, quietly observing, yet vehemently opposing the religious traditions that rendered the Word of God of none effect.
Yet, now, He had come of age, and stood before these religious leaders, and spoke not just His mind, but the Word of the living God, the voice of our Father in the earth, nailing their religious traditions to the wall, by the Spirit of God!
Traditions of men, any men, may look noble, pious, and wonderful, until Jesus shows up!
When He comes, He comes with power and truth that sets free!
In these last days, we see how difficult, perilous times come into the earth, that would overwhelm us in life and even in the church, if we would bow to them, but we are warned!
2 Tim 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
When push comes to shove: Obey God, not man, and quietly (if possible) leave religious people and traditions, that are contrary to the Word and voice of Holy Spirit.
If it is not possible to quietly leave, then like Jesus, speak the truth in power!
Demonstrate what you claim to believe with His signs, wonders and miracles, for is He not the living God?
Mt 21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
In any corporate, community, or ministry culture, pursue peace with all men. Yet, there are times, when peace is not an option….then, be bold, and whatever He says, DO IT!
I remember chuckling one time, in the city where I pastored when I heard the following story:
Seems God had begun to move amongst the street people in our city. During an eight month period of bus ministry, we saw 833 gangsters, and run away youth, ride the bus, come to church, give their life to Jesus, and receive a Bible, that they devoured. Many of these folks lived on the street, no picnic in Canada! During this time, a well known cult, set up a table downtown in a highly trafficked area, and began to sell little religious idols, and would try to get people to join their organization. As they got more and more vocal in their recruitment attempts, I heard that a couple of street youths, who had just read about Jesus and the money lenders in the temple, entered into a heated debate with members of their organization, emphatically telling them: “Hey, we had nothing, but now we have Jesus, and the streets are becoming a better place because of Him. You take your filth, and get outta here!” When the people refused, these youths reportedly overturned their display tables, and ran the people off!
So much for political correctness!
Yet, Jesus kept the traditions wherever possible:
Matt 17:24 ¶ And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
A tax imposed by a king on his subjects #2Sa 20:24 1Ki 4:6 Ro 13:6 In #Mt17:24-27 the word denotes the temple rate (the “didrachma,” the “half-shekel,” as rendered by the R.V.) which was required to be paid for the support of the temple by every Jew above twenty years of age #Ex 30:12 2Ki 12:4 2Ch 24:6,9 It was not a civil but a religious tax. In #Mt 22:17 Mr 12:14 Lu 20:22 the word may be interpreted as denoting the capitation tax which the Romans imposed on the Jewish people. It may, however, be legitimately regarded as denoting any tax whatever imposed by a foreign power on the people of Israel. The “tribute money” shown to our Lord #Mt 22:19 was the denarius, bearing Caesar’s superscription. It was the tax paid by every Jew to the Romans.
These religious leaders were charging a temple tax, that was not authorized by the Romans, yet rather than blast them, Jesus paid it.
Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes:
2Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Heard a quote regarding church: To those who are argue that tradition can kill a church:
The second time you do anything it becomes a tradition.
Paul kept the traditions of the elders for we read:
Ga 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
So, the obvious questions are:
1. When do we confront traditions bluntly and boldly?
2. When do we quietly observe, and submit to traditions?
3. When do we quietly, and perhaps gently, walk away from people, places, and cultures, that are contrary to the Word and Spirit of God?
Here is a neat quote I found: Tradition is the living faith of those now dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of those still living.
Jaroslav Pelikan, The Vindication of Tradition, p. 65.
If we believe that: Ro 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Well, here are a couple of my thoughts:
1. Generally, I have found that most confrontation is more effective, in prayer and authority spiritually, before confronting people. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, yet, there are times, when flesh ruled sinful people, must have their flesh restrained. That is why we have policemen and soldiers. If everyone did right, we wouldn’t need them.
Yet, I believe many ugly confrontations can be averted when we pray, rather than say, first! When we bind the evil spirit encouraging a person doing evil, from their mind, and deliberately, in love, use our faith, to believe the best of a person, wonderful things can happen! In fact, this is my current primary ministry: intense intercession for many situations and nations, as people are currently clearly doing evil things, clearly contrary to the Word of God!
2. God hates those who sow discord amongst the brethren, and rebellion is as witchcraft. Generally, it has been my experience that in a community culture, where traditions are present, it is usually the will of God to walk in love, pursue peace with all men, and to walk in love. (Did I say to walk in love?) Strife, and offense opens doors to devils, and we are not servants of hell!
3. I think of ministry, First Nations, and business or government cultures, where elders are respected, honored, and revered. I may not agree with them, nor, in certain cases, be able to submit to their counsel, but I can still honor their traditions, in their spheres of influence, even if I don’t agree with them. 1Ti 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; (Sometimes, this takes great self control!) Yet, no matter how much I may love, honor, and respect elders, and their traditions, I must have the presence and power of God in my life!
Ultimately, I love Jesus, and am determined to hear and obey Him, above the will of any person, no matter how esteemed they may appear in the eyes of the community.
Jesus promised that we will hear His voice! Daily, He will speak. Today, you will hear, no matter how far you may have strayed, when you turn to Him, He will draw near, and lead you, as a Shepherd.
“Father, show me how to fully obey You, and walk in love and truth, without compromise. Where I am submitting to traditions that are contrary to Your will, and Your Word for my life, please show me, that I can walk free, in your power. Give me wisdom on how to pray, speak, and when I need to confront evil, in Your name I pray Lord Jesus, Amen!’