Mark 7.5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” [nkjv]
There was an ad in the early 90’s where actress Naomi Watts passed up a dinner date with Tom Cruise to eat her mum’s lamb roast. I love to cook. I’m no Jamie Oliver but in our household I am famous for my lasagna, pancakes and chocolate slice. I learnt how to cook by watching my mum in the kitchen when I was a child. Even now, when I need advice in the kitchen, I’m on the phone to mum straight away.
I heard a story recently about a young girl who also use to watch her mum in the kitchen. One day, while preparing a roast, she noticed her cutting off the ends of the roast. When she asked her why she did that, her mum replied, “that’s the way my mum did it dear.” Still puzzled by this, the little girl rang her grandma to ask the same question. Grandma also gave the same answer, “that’s the way my mum did it dear.” Not satisfied, the little girl rang up her great grandmother and asked her the same question. “Oh my dear”, she said, “when I use to cook a roast, the only way I could fit it in the pan was to first cut off the ends before putting it in the oven.”
We all have our traditions. Those quirky things we do, which have been passed down through the generations. Those things our parents did and which we will probably teach our children to do. They aren’t necessarily all bad. Some traditions bring a sense of comfort and familiarity. Some help us focus on what’s important in life.
The Pharisees and Scribes however were so caught up in their traditions and religious customs that when confronted by something different they struggled to believe. They didn’t evaluate Jesus through the measure of God’s Word rather they evaluated Him through the measure of their religious traditions.
This is when traditions become unhealthy. They blind us to the truth. They become more about rules and less about grace. Sometimes even the tradition becomes more important than God Himself. And the greatest consequence is that God’s message of love, forgiveness and grace gets lost in translation and religious tradition.
Unless of course there is a little girl, bold enough to ask ‘why?’