Truth or Tradition: Matthew 12:1-2
“1) At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2) But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”” Matthew‬ ‭12‬:‭1‬-‭2‬
Jesus was now starting down the road of which is greater, “the Law or the One Who gave the Law? “ Or, which is greater, “the Sabbath or the Lord of the Sabbath?” He was about to expose religious hypocrisy.
Now be careful in your thinking, Jesus was not playing the corruption game. He was not claiming to be above the Law. By no means! He had to be 100% sinless and innocent in order to make atonement for human sin. He was by no means living by a different standard. He Himself was measured by the Law and found innocent.
He was instead challenging the way the Pharisees were interpreting and applying the Law. Over time they had come up with their own rules and regulations based on the Law that were full of loopholes they could use to condemn, control and manipulate people. Jesus was exposing their hypocrisy.
Be careful not to let religious traditions or theological bias cloud your understanding of the Word of God. I constantly have to go back to the Word of God and measure my foundations.
This often happens in area’s of world missions. I continually ask myself; “Am I exporting biblical principles or western Christianity?” This is a huge problem in world missions. Let me elaborate.
A few examples relate to Christian marriage. I have been invited to numerous Christian wedding ceremonies in various countries and cultures around the world. They are very different from traditional western ceremonies. Initially, I was a bit critical and judgmental until I realized that the Bible gives zero guidance on what a Christian wedding ceremony looks like. In fact, the Bible doesn’t even provide a wedding vow. Does that surprise you?
Another example relates to courtship and engagement. Christians in India practice arranged marriages. Our approach in the west offers almost no guidance in finding a spouse. Grooms in Africa pay insane dowries to the brides family. Which system is biblically correct?
Well, technically, the biblical principles are simply 1)no fornication, 2) fidelity in marriage, 3) binding wedding vows until death, 4)and marry only a Christian. There’s a lot of room for flexibility in Scripture. One might argue that the modern western system is terribly flawed.
The problem with the Pharisees now comes into focus. They were replacing the Law with their traditions. This brought them into direct conflict with Jesus and became the basis of His eventual condemnation.
Let me leave you with a question; “Are you living out the Word of God, or are you being driven by religious traditions or theological bias?” The two are very different.
It takes a long time and humility to unlearn convictions based in religious tradition or theological bias rather than biblical truth. It is a field full of land mines that every Christian must cross on their way to biblical maturity. Many never venture into this field and end up tragically wasting a lot of time arguing and divided over… tradition!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global