A true disciple puts God's Word first, not our interpretation of it.
| posted 11/09/2010
He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God," he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said:
'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
Jesus answers their question—why his disciples don't follow a particular tradition—with one of his own. Why do they put a tradition, as well intended as it might be, ahead of God's command? The implication: God's Word trumps human tradition. While some traditions are fine, according to Jesus, other traditions cause us to break God's commands and must be discarded.
In the instance he cites, if you had promised a certain amount of money to God, then you need not use it to support your parents. The rule was, God first, mother and father second. Sounds holy, right? It was really just a neat legal trick to escape a clear obligation to honor one's parents in practical ways.
Letter and Spirit
Understanding the letter of the law profits us nothing if we fail to grasp its spirit. Jesus is asking us to read the Bible with new eyes. He is asking us to not only know it, but also to interpret it rightly and apply it to our lives. He is calling us to a new hermeneutic, one that touches our hearts. "The goal of all Bible study," says Robertson McQuilkin in Understanding and Applying the Bible, "is to apply the truth of Scripture to life. If that application is not made, all the work put into making sure of the author's intended meaning will have gone for naught."
Jesus was never satisfied with merely a rote understanding of Scripture, or a wooden application of its commands. Knowledge of God's Word that did not lead to a transformed heart and a holy life was less than adequate. It was an idol that had to be smashed.
Jesus is the key that unlocks our understanding of Scripture. And what is the purpose of Scripture? "The truly staggering answer," J. I. Packer says in God Has Spoken, "is to make friends with us."
Adapted from All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, by Stan Guthrie (Baker, 2010). Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group: http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.
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