Saturday 30 November 2013

Mark 7:1-23 - Beware of tradition

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Jesus often came up against people who held to tradition even when it opposed what is right. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were particularly likely to cling to tradition, and they were always ready to challenge Jesus when he or his disciples broke with Jewish tradition. Mark 7:1-23 offers us a very clear glimpse of this battle.

But Jesus is not prepared to accept such tradition. Which of our traditions would he accept? Would he accept any of them? What things do we do out of habit and veneration of ancient customs?

The disciples needed help to understand what Jesus meant when he said that we are defiled by what comes out of us, not by what goes in. So what was it that came out of the religious leaders? Jesus provides a long list of items that defile, twelve items that are 'evil thoughts'.

Is tradition evil in the same way as theft or greed or envy? It seems unlikely on the face of it; much tradition may be harmless in and of itself. But the evil thought in the hearts of Pharisees was that tradition was more important than obedience.

We dare not raise adherence to any tradition above obedience to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit [Tweet it!].

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