October 12, 2021
Scripture: But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. Matthew 15:5-6 ESV
Observation: Confronted by the Pharisees and scribes regarding a cleansing tradition that went beyond the Mosaic law, Jesus pointedly exposed their hypocrisy. The religious leaders established a practice where an adult child could annul their obligation to care for their parents by declaring their financial resources as corban (Mark 7:11), a gift dedicated to God (violating the 5th Commandment to honor your Father and Mother). In practice, corban could be offered to God at any point in the future, or not at all. Rarely was their accountability. So disgusted by their lipservice which belied their hardened hearts toward God, Jesus then quoted Isaiah: “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” (Isaiah 19:13).
Takeaway: In his commentary on Matthew, James Boyce notes, “What concerned Jesus most was that by this false piety these men nullified the Bible, making it of no effect, which is the problem with traditions. It is what human traditions almost always do.” Traditions in themselves can deepen our faith when we bring them under the authority of Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. However, we need to be mindful when we embrace traditions that appeal to our affinities without a solid understanding of the breath of God’s Word.
Prayer: Father God, please help us to discern the difference between biblical and human-conceived traditions. And please help us to submit to the scrutiny of your Holy Spirit when he exposes those traditions that mascarade as pious practices that cool our hearts toward you. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling