Tradition is Not Always Right

Having firmly established that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah in chapters 1-6, Mark finally begins the task of teaching us the Word! I’m excited! Are you excited? We being with Mark 7: 1-13.

It starts with the experts in the law once again asking Jesus why he does things differently. His disciples don’t ritually wash their hands before eating the way that “righteous” Jews “should.” Such was the tradition handed down from the elders.

Jesus responds with a quote from OT basically telling the lawgivers that the tradition handed down by the elders is wrong. All of the traditional laws about ritual washing were passed down by men who thought they understood God but didn’t.

As an example, Jesus mentions the tradition where children could tell their parents that their labors are to be set aside for God to be fulfilled later. Basically, this tradition allowed children to be absolved from the responsibility to support or assist their parents, under the guise of tradition, and of saving that support or assistance for God, “at a later date,” which may, or more likely may not, come along.

Jesus is saying that this “tradition” stands in direct defiance of the Mosaic commandment to honor one’s father and mother. He’s saying that it’s a human construct to avoid responsibility and that the Jews “Do many things like this.”

What do I feel when I read this? A justification for my constant questioning of tradition. From Jesus’ mouth, we have proof that humans mess with God’s will to fit their own wants and needs, and that these human desires and errors can be passed down from generation to generation. Jesus is saying that tradition is not infallible, that those who came before us and made decisions were not perfect, and we should constantly be on guard for errors from without and from within. Just as tradition and those humans before us are capable of errors, so are we.

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Yes, this means that all of my reasoning and logic and bucking of tradition may also be wrong. All I can do is my best to align my traditions and actions with those of Jesus and watch out for concessions which ultimately nullify God’s will as revealed through the Messiah.

It is important to notice that aligning with Mosaic law was the example, but not the original issue. When asked about ritual washing, Jesus didn’t say that washing was a nullification, he simply implied that it was a human tradition, not a Godly one. “Having no regard for the command of God, you hold fast to human tradition.”

Let us be vigilant for those Christian doctrines and rules which are human traditions which have no regard for the command of God.

Grace and Peace to you all.


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