“When a Tradition is Bad”
When a Tradition is Bad
by Jeff Curtis
Jesus was losing His patience with the self-righteous and self-serving Pharisees. He didn’t bother to deny their charge or even answer it directly. Instead, He leveled an accusation at them: “3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:3-6).
Originally, the purpose of the traditions was to place a hedge around the law of Moses, to help the Law was not violated. As time went by, however, as new rules multiplied, they related less and less to the original precepts – until finally they even went contrary to those commandments.
A tradition that was bad;
Christ could have given many examples of this (Mark 7:13), but He confined Himself to one: “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death’” (Matthew 15:4). Mark wrote, “For Moses said…” (Mark 7:10), which is another proof that Jesus believed that Moses spoke by inspiration from God when he gave the Law.
The first of the commandments listed by Jesus was one of the original Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16). The second was included in the laws that expanded and applied the Ten Commandments (Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9). These two commandments covered the positive and negative aspects of an individual’s relationship with his parents. He was to respect and appreciate His father and mother. This included caring for their needs when they were old (Proverbs 23:22; 1Tim. 5:8). He was not to do anything that would indicate disrespect.
Unfortunately, a man-made tradition had evolved, nullifying those commandments. Jesus’ eyes must have flashed as He indicted Hi accusers: “9 He said to them, “All too well you [a]reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down” (Mark 7:9-13).
“Corban” is an Aramaic word meaning “offering” or “gift.” A Jew could make a vow that a certain portion of what he owned was “Corban,” “a gift” dedicated to God. Those resources might remain in his possession until his death – at which time they became the property of the temple – but as long as he lived, those assets were considered untouchable. According to Jesus, if a man made such a vow, the Pharisees would “no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother.” The rabbis had a saying: “It is hard for the parents, but the law is clear, vows must be kept.” The Old Testament rule was that vows were to be kept (Numbers 30), but to apply the laws regarding vows in such a way that the fundamental principles of the Ten Commandments were set aside was ridiculous.
Apparently, sad episodes similar to this occurred in the Lord’s day. Jesus concluded this part of His indictment, “Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6b). According Mark, He added, “And many such things you do” (Mark 7:13b). W