Year 2 Day 301
Read - Mark 7:1-5
Message - Alan Burke
None of us would have ever imagined back at the end of 2019 that the stories of an outbreak of something called CoronaVirus in Wuhan would have impacted us in the way it has. Back then you went into a shop with your face covered and you would have been refused entry now people would challenge you to why you hadn’t covered your face. Also when you walk into anywhere there are those bottles of hand sanitiser that you are expected to use, and encouraged to do that or wash our hands with soap and water regularly throughout the day. We are to remember the basics of good hygiene.
That’s not the reason that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law took issue with what the disciples were doing. They weren’t panicking because their hands were a mess and they were going to get covid or that they were covered with germs. No their issue with them not washing their hands was that it went against their tradition, they were not following the ceremonial washing. What these Pharisees and Teachers of the law had seen was not what Jesus was doing, how the people were flocking to him, how he was healing, no what they saw was that Jesus and his disciples were messing with their traditions, they didn’t follow the tradition and practices of the elders by ritual washing (2-4).
The ceremonial washing of hands was a tradition, in the Torah, that’s the first five books of the old testament where God gives the ceremonial, civic and moral law to his people. There God instructs his priests to wash their hands when they go to give sacrifice in the temple, that’s in Exodus 30:19 and 40:12 but the one that matters is the the instruction God gives for those who touch someone with a discharge. Leviticus 15:11 “Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. (Lev 15:11)”.
But there was no commandment in the Torah that required a ceremonial washing before eating, none, nothing, it’s just not there. What had happened is that this requirement, this tradition had came about not just to give people some other thing to try to keep, another requirement, something that was burdensome, rather it was give to help the people avoid breaking the law of God. Where the scriptures were silent on any give subject or vague then the Pharisees and teachers of the Law would try to find a way to make sure that they didn’t accidentally break the law accidentally. Yes it began with good intention, the problem is that their oral traditions and at this stage it was an oral tradition had the same weight as scripture, “Man Made Traditions Treated As God Given Commandments”.
This tradition that they had, for that’s what it was, they enforced it. There was nothing wrong in wanting to wash, like there is nothing wrong in wearing a suit on a Sunday, but when you make that the requirement, you make it tradition or religion when, when you view “Man Made Traditions Treated As God Given Commandments” then we are wrong. Jaroslav Pelikan in his work The Vindication of Tradition says the following… “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.” What is it, what are we doing, what is our faith based on, tradition or traditionalism, is our faith the living faith of the dead or the dead faith of the living?
Q60 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, (Exod. 20:8,10, Exod. 16:25–28) even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; (Neh. 13:15–19) and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’ s worship, (Luke 4:16, Acts 20:7, Ps. 92, Isa. 66:23) except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy. (Matt. 12:1–31)