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Lesson # Matt. 15:1-2
Study Material - Matt. 15:1-2
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
1 Then [tote] came [proserchomai] to Jesus [Iesous] scribes [grammateus] and [kai] Pharisees [Pharisaios] , which were of [apo] Jerusalem [Hierosoluma] , saying [lego] ,
2 Why [diati] do thy [sou] disciples [mathetes] transgress [parabaino] the tradition [paradosis] of the elders [presbuteros] ? for [gar] they wash [nipto] not [ou] their [autos] hands [cheir] when [hotan] they eat [esthio] bread [artos] . KJV-Interlinear
1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, 2 'Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.' NAS
First, washing in the scriptures had nothing to do with physical hygiene but referred to ceremonial rinsing which was intended to teach the principle of washing sins away for the purpose of getting ones self into fellowship with God.
However, many centuries of fading away from the original intentions of the scriptures, saw their replacement with 'traditions'. Again we will see that traditions can become huge barriers and distractions taking one away from Bible instruction.
The Pharisees had inherited traditions and they even enhanced them within their religious doctrine. I can now insult most everyone who is either a Catholic or a Protestant (which includes most everyone in the Christian world), in that both of these have great traditions incorporated within their church doctrine.
Just as the Pharisees made their traditions greater than Gods Word, so too, over the centuries the Roman Catholics looked to and still do look to church dogma (collections of church interpretations) to determine what the scriptures mean. Likewise various Protestant organizations give more authority to the 'pronouncements' of their denomination, rather than the Bible.
But tradition is not simply limited to religious philosophy. Many cultures (sometimes with strong religious influence) center themselves on the traditions unique to them. Kids in school apply peer pressure with respect to how they dress, how they wear their hair, how they talk, and so forth.
Social organizations are saturated with tradition. Often times that traditions of social clubs and such change with the membership and whatever is popular of the moment, but they also are generally fraught with gossip and intimidation tactics which are used to keep their membership in line - with the accepted tradition of the club. If you do not comply, you are ostracized. And, as is typical with most social traditions, they are the product of the personal whims or opinions (usually very subjective) of the people who are in charge of the social organization. And these traditions are generally products of mediocrity and pettiness attitudes.
Case in point. The Talmud is the repository of Jewish tradition. It teaches that God gave the oral law to Moses, then told Moses to pass it on to 'great' men of Israel. These 'great' men were then to do three things with the law. First, they were to deliberate on it. Second, they were to train disciples in order that the next generation would have teachers of the law. Third, they were to build a wall around the law in order to protect it. This 'wall' becomes the myriad of regulations (traditions) which become so voluminous that the original scripture becomes lost in the shuffle. The traditions begin with protection of the Law in mind, but end up actually contradicting it and undermining the Law (scripture). Traditions are outward appearance oriented and ultimately exclude the original principles from which they were derived.
While the Jews were in exile, scribes (beginning with Ezra) began to assemble and copy the various books of Scripture that existed at that time. They also began to make comments on various passages that seemed unclear; and gradually a larger and larger accumulation of interpretations was developed until there were more interpretations than scripture. Scripture became less and less distinct, and before long tradition was more familiar and more revered than Gods Word.
What is important in Gods word? Salvation and how to obtain it. Spiritual growth and how to achieve it. That really sums up the entire Christian life. You say, 'What about living a good life, and praying, and being nice and so forth?' That is the application of doctrine as a result of learning it, of understanding it, of applying it to ones life, etc. That is all encapsulated in 'spiritual growth.'
The Pharisees were all worked up on whether or not the disciples washed their hands before meals. A concept that is really irrelevant as far as the spiritual life is concerned. Now don't get the idea that you don't need to wash up, because that is just plain common sense and courtesy to others around you. But as a part of the spiritual life, washing ones hands means nothing. Any unbeliever can do a very nice job washing their hands.
The tradition? From Alfred Edersheim's, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.
'Water jars were kept ready to be used before every meal. The minimum amount of water to be used was a quarter of a log, enough to fill one and a half egg shells. The water was first poured on both hands, held with the fingers pointed upward; and it must run down the arm as far as the wrist and drop off from the wrist, for the water was now itself unclean, having touched the unclean hands. And if it ran down the fingers again it would render them unclean. The process was repeated with hands held in the downward direction, the fingers pointing down. And finally each hand was cleansed by being rubbed with the fist of the other. A strict Jew would do this before every meal and between every course in every meal.'
This washing tradition was a very big deal and as you can see, went a little overboard toward the ridiculous. But the people of Jesus' time were very sincere in keeping it pure and honored. Never mind that one might go to the Lake of Fire because Christ was rejected, but at least one would go there with clean hands I suppose!!!
Jesus was doing some very remarkable miracles. He was healing everyone who approached Him. He demonstrated now that He could feed any group from virtually nothing. He taught the way to heaven and the pattern of the Christian daily life (spiritual growth), and what do these Pharisees and Scribes focus their attention on? Washing of hands. Absolutely irrelevant and very petty. Their real intentions? To discredit and to destroy Jesus Christ. Why? Because His teaching differed from and, did not agree with their opinions in life. They were threatened, by His popularity. They were jealous by His success. They were envious of His ability.
And so it is throughout history and even in our present day. Those who are would be jealous and gossip against others whom they deem beneath themselves, live petty lives and ultimately destroy themselves.
The Pharisees sent Jesus to the Cross and celebrated their perceived victory, but in fact they sealed Gods Plan and sealed their own doom.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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