Monday, October 11, 2021

Jesus and Religious Traditions

 Jesus is now more than one year into His ministry.  Primarily in Galilee.
On one hand, He's growing in popularity. - Mark 2:13
However, He's growing in opposition - Mark 2:7, 16 - question is legitimate, but attitude is not.  ie: criticism

So... today = Mark 2:18

Background on fasting:  600 years earlier = THE EXILE - to Babylon for 70 years.
after the return = effort to KEEP the Law and Please God!

Hence:  (1)  THE LAW - they found 613 commands (248 shalts and 365 shalt nots)
This = the written, recorded Law - THE TORAH.

Then (2)  THE ORAL LAW (orally passed down) - either additional laws or exposition f written laws - called THE MISHNAH  

(3)  Additional questions about exactly how to practice these laws lead to THE TRADITION of the ELDERS - example:  Matt. 15:1-2
One of those practices = FASTING = which generally meant abstain from food (could be other comforts, pleasures)

I)  FASTING and the LAW of Moses - only required 1 day per year ... ie:  Day of Atonement  (Lev. 16)

II)  The Purpose of fasting = to deny self, humble self - KJV in Leviticus = "afflict your soul"

III)  The Point = to seek God by sharpening your focus, increasing your sensitivity to Him, to the Holy Spirit
          (A)  how it works - every time tempted with food, reminder as to why are fasting
          (B)  therefore the often used phrase - "fasting and prayer"

IV)  The Tradition of fasting - had grown until in Jesus' times = (A) fasting twice a week - Luke 18:11-12
                                                                                              (B)  to show piety!!!  Matt. 4:

BUT Jesus is saying  (1)  for my disciples, this is not the time for fasting
                         And (2)  your fasting rules are NOT obligatory to all people  (ie:  all believers)

NOW leads to Mark 2:21-22 - examples;  new patch on old already shrunk jeans?  new wine in old wineskins?
The Point:  Pharisees are so rigid, inflexible they can't accept His teachings.  (contrast:  His disciples)

IMPORTANT POINT:  Jesus is NOT presenting new truths (that the Pharisees can't handle)  Rather = a proper understanding of ANCIENT TRUTHS!!!  (established truths, eternal truths)  The truths are God's eternal laws.

ie:  God's will has not changed!  But with Christ comes a New understanding of Old truths .... which the Pharisees were too rigid to accept!!
So He'll clash with them about fasting, Sabbath, eating with sinners, accepting Gentiles, etc. 
Example:  Mark 3:6  Phariess and Herodians are like modern day Democrats and Republicans.  Hated each other but worked together here to get rid of Jesus.

Observations and Applications for us today:  

(1)  Religious traditions are subject to alteration, reform, even disposal  ie:  IF are mere tradition and NOT scriptural mandate!  (learn to recognize the difference!)
(2)  Religious traditions should not be highly dismissed.  They were important and weighty to some people or would never have become tradition!!!  Mattered to some people in a big way so need to seriously consider.

(3)  Not all that is ancient is mere tradition
Example:  sanctity of life, marriage, sexual boundaries.    God's Word does not change!  We are NOT free to alter that!!!

(4)  Your traditions are not binding on others
"we've always done it that way" is no reason to continue
(However, "we've always done it that way" is no reason to change it either.   If it WORKS!!!)

(5)  To be flexible does not mean to change ... it means being OPEN to change!!!

(6)  don't rebel against tradition fo the sake of rebellion!   example:  the 60's - rebelled against everything just because that's the way it was always done.  

(7)  On one hand, we say "don't be afraid to challenge tradition.
However, don't be afraid to KEEP tradition!!  It doesn't make you an 'old foggy' to hold to what still works well!

(8)  don't be afraid to ESTABLISH traditions! 
example:  family series, buffaloes and butterflies  (However, don't be upset when others abandon your traditions!!)

(9)  ABOVE ALL ... don't be a Pharisee... ie:  Don't let your traditions keep you from Christ!!

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