Our lives are full of tradition. They are handed down to us generationally and some we create ourselves or adopt from the world we live in. Even if the traditions are common sense or maybe benefit us greatly we need to align them with the Bible.
The problem with traditions is when they become as or more important than what they are birthed out of. These next few verses are an example of that.
“Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?For God said, ‘Honour your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honour their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Matthew 15 v 3-6)
Jesus brings to the surface what was clear hypocrisy. The 5th commandment says that we must honour our parents but what if you don’t want to do that? Well instead of providing for your parents you could give that financial resource to God instead. Now how would you do that? Of course you would be giving that through the religious system and it would benefit the Pharisees. Further to that if you had previously promised to give money to the religious leaders/God and your parents then needed help, you couldn’t take back that promise.
How could they substantiate this hypocrisy? It is in a word only found in Mark’s gospel (7:11), Corban. It means a gift devoted to God.
Hypocrites say one thing and do another. They attacked the disciples for having unwashed ceremonial hands at the same time having this stance towards their parents.
The disciples had broken their traditions by not ‘lifting up their hands’/ritual cleansing of their hands, they had ‘nullified’ the traditions because they were with the Word of God. In contrast these religious people had ‘nullified’ the Word of God by imposing their traditions on the people.
We need to be careful on the heaviness of our judgment against the lightness of our own conduct.
So the big question is this: is tradition or the Word of God ruling your life?