Truth Verse Tradition

The Life Of Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Theme for this year on Sunday mornings has been “The Life of Christ.”
Hoping to help us draw closer to our God through knowing our Savior here on earth all the better.
Last week we discussed the “Storms of Life” we go through.
That Jesus sent his disciples into a storm and God will send us into storms as well.
However, he will be there also, to help us through them and guide us into a more mature faith.
Today, we are going to pick up where we left off, on Jesus calming the storm and walking on the water.
Jesus and the disciples made it to the other side.
Now, at this time Jesus’ service or ministry was all about helping and loving his creation while trying to get them to see the importance of God’s actual word which we see in Mark 6:53-56 as Jesus & his disciples get out of the boat.
Mark 6:53–56 ESV
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
This is a beautiful picture of this phase of Jesus’ ministry.
He was “helping” his hurt people, to the point that “as many as touched his garment were made well or whole.”
This brings us to our first point…

Tradition & God

Tradition Of Washing.

Now before we get into our text I want us to consider the stark contrast between Jesus and the Jewish leadership that was brewing.
Over the centuries the Jewish leadership had been developing what they would eventually call the Mishna, which was a commentary on the Mosaic Law.
They had become so enamored with it, that this “book of traditions” had become more important than God’s actual word.
Even today, the Mishna is considered “superior” to God’s word because it “explains it.”
Let’s read now Mark 7:1-4.
Mark 7:1–4 ESV
1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)
This paragraph demonstrates the power and effect traditions hold on people.
Obviously, by now, the Pharisees and scribes were seeking every opportunity to “make Jesus look bad” with the hopes of discrediting him.
They come from Jerusalem and find Jesus and his disciples and they have their “ah ha” moment.
The tradition these men sought to capitalize on against Jesus was the, as our text says it, “washing hands properly.”
This was not about hygiene, this was about rigid customs or traditions handed down from generation to generation.
The tradition was to hold their hands with palms up, tipped slightly downward.
As water was being poured over one hand, the fist of the other hand was used to scrub the palm of the other hand, then in reverse.
The tradition then had the hands turn over with palms down, with fingers pointed slightly downward.
Fresh water was then poured over the hands to remove the “defiled water” left from scrubbing.
If this tradition was not done the person was considered “unclean” and needed to perform the proper sacrifices to make them clean again.
Now this was so strongly rooted into Jews that we have on record a Jewish rabbi who was imprisoned and he almost died due to this tradition.
The cup of water that was brought to him to drink with meals, he would use to “wash” first leaving little left to drink, and he almost died of thirst.
Now, there is little doubt, like most religions but false traditions, that these started out innocent in nature.
There are several Jewish laws concerning washings that were to be performed in order to teach people how to handle sin, which was the Old Law’s intent.
Unfortunately, the Jewish priest started making suggestions about the “proper way” to physically do these washings and one interpretation led to another until it became considered “fact” or “law” so to speak.
As we can see in this text it even mentions these strict laws on washing dinner ware or coming home from the market.
To the Pharisees and other Jewish leadership these traditions were the absolute essence of religion.
To observe them was to please God, to violate them was to sin.
Mark 7:5 ESV
5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
This is leads us to…

Jesus’ Rebuke.

Let’s read now Jesus’ response to these men’s accusations.
Mark 7:6–8 ESV
6 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; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
As we can clearly see, as one brother put it, “Jesus and these men spoke two different languages.”
In this powerful rebuke Jesus is actually leveling two specific sins.
First, they were guilty of hypocrisy as he pointed out Isaiah’s prophecy concerning them, “They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
Many of the Jewish leadership held hate, bitterness, anger, and enjoyed strife.
Remember the Pharisee’s prayer against the sinner…
Luke 18:11–12 ESV
11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Though these men held these bitter and hateful views in their hearts they thought they were righteous because they “kept the traditions of the elders.”
They emphasized man’s outward actions to the disregard of the heart.
Jesus came to correct that way of thinking which was not biblical then or now.
Christianity must be identifiable by our actions.
John 13:35 ESV
35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Matthew 5:16 ESV
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
However, if all we are relying on is our outward actions we are missing the point.
Our heart must be the motivating factor in those “outward actions” and if it isn’t we are not living righteously but merely religiously.
Secondly, this leadership was guilty of “voiding God’s word” with “additions to God’s word” when he said, “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments or traditions of men.”
These men had given as much importance to their “legal experts” interpretations of God’s word than God’s word itself.
Jesus didn’t mix words here but was amazingly blunt to these men.
When it comes to Jesus’ handling of those who should know his word the best “the Jewish leadership,” Jesus had no sympathy. In fact he was so blunt that in Matthew account the disciples warn him that he offended the Pharisees.
Matthew 15:12 ESV
12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
Jesus’ response to the disciples tells us all we need to know about “offending people” with the truth in love.
Matthew 15:13–14 ESV
13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
When it comes to God’s teachers teaching false doctrine through traditions or other wise Jesus has no sympathy for such things and neither should we, which includes traditions we consider “doctrine.”
Far too many congregations have died off because they held to man’s traditions instead of seeking to be fully and completely spiritual fed and seeking the lost.
In trying to become “stable” they go beyond God’s word and then seek validation of their traditions.
2 Timothy 4:3–4 ESV
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.


The opposite of seeking stability, religiously, is when one opts to forgo all semblance of tradition “just to be different” and stand out.
Most often this leads to a multitude of umbilical actions taken such as “praise teams, the partaking of the Lord’s Supper on different days, etc..
We next see Jesus confront…

Tradition & Relationships

What These Traditions Create.

In our next section of text we see Jesus paint a vivid picture of what traditionalism does to one’s basic relationship with people.
Mark 7:9–13 ESV
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
The Law of Moses said, “honor your father and mother.”
That commandment meant more than just being nice to them it also meant taking care of them in their old age.
The Jews had worked out a “workaround” so to speak for taking care of their parents in their old age.
The “tradition” became if you said “Corban” which means to dedicate those funds, meant to care for your parents, to God you could not take care of them.
In essence they were saying it’s ok to tell your parents, “I would love to take care of you and wish I could but I already devoted those funds to God, and I must therefore keep my promise to God.”
When something was consider Corban it could no longer be used for “ordinary” means and the vow was irrevocable according to tradition.
What Jesus is point out is that this tradition had missed the point all together.
All of life is Corban or should be dedicated to God.
Jesus clearly points out that any tradition that makes helping another “genuine in need person” from getting help is not a commandment from God but a doctrine of man.
Galatians 6:10 ESV
10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 ESV
15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.



Isaiah 59:1–2 ESV
1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Philippians 2:6–7 ESV
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Acts 17:30 ESV
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
Matthew 10:32 NKJV
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
2 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV
8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:1–4 ESV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Romans 6:3–5 ESV
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
1 John 1:7 ESV
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
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