Leading a Rebellion:
Jesus Broke Rules and Traditions
Intro: How many of you know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you are smarter than your parents? I realize this is a dangerous question for some of you. How many of you do things that your parents tell you not to do, but do it anyways and get away with it? Ok, everyone needs to tell me those things right now. Just kidding. When I was in the fifth grade or so, my brother and I would get grounded from the TV, but we rode the bus and usually got home before my parents. We lived down this really long driveway, and our television was hooked up to one of those light switches that controls the top plug of an electrical outlet. We’d sit on the couch and watch whatever stupid show came on after school, see mom or dad pull into the lane, reach back and flip the light switch. The best part was if you flipped the switch again, it wouldn’t even turn the TV back on. But then I met Jesus and put aside all of my sinful, rebellious ways. Some of you know my parents pretty well and if any of you rat me out, I will rat you out so hard to your parents.
Next question: How many of you ever did or didn’t do something and you got caught and were completely baffled as to how you got caught? There was no way you parents could have known what you did and didn’t do, and yet you still got caught. When my dad was in school he had a study hall teacher who would get to the room, prop his feet up on the desk and relax the hour away. At the end of the period he would get up and write out detention slips for the misbehaving students. How did he know who was misbehaving? He was asleep the whole time. He would get to class early and arrange all of the windows and glass doors in a certain way to see the entire class without moving from his supposed asleep position. Parents and teachers are a lot smarter than what we get credit for. Everyone thinks they have their parents fooled, but we have a bunch of tricks up our sleeves. For instance, I can tell if you washed your hands after going to the bathroom at my house without inspecting hands, sinks, towels, or soaps. Wanna know how I do it? I’m not telling.
The Story So Far: What does this have to do with anything? Open up your Bibles to Matthew Chapters 14 and 15. In chapter 14 we have Jesus just finding out His cousin, friend, and ministry partner was beheaded and wanted to spend some time alone in prayer. So He got on a boat and headed for a deserted shore. When He got there He found that the word had spread that Jesus was going to be there and a huge crowd gathered. Unable to get the rest He wanted, He spent the entire day ministering to them and eventually fed 5,000 men plus women and children. After dinner Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Him on a boat and He stayed behind to pray. A few hours later Jesus strolled up to the boat walking on water as if on dry ground. Even Peter got to try walking on the water. It wasn’t a public miracle, but still very impressive. When they reached their destination Jesus got out of the boat and began healing many of the local people’s sick and demon possessed.
Jesus was doing a lot of good things in a matter of a day or two, despite having a heavy heart. And then the scribes and Pharisees showed up—The Holy Party Poopers.
“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
After all of the things that Jesus just did and went through and they had the audacity to begin their complaints with “Why do your disciples not wash their hands before they eat?”
Jesus rebelled against the religious culture of the day because all of the rules and traditions they established were so far from the heart of God that it made Him sick. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. There were more, but those were the ones everyone is familiar with. The Jews then made up laws and traditions on top of those to avoid breaking any of the commandments on accident. For instance: The Fourth Commandment says to keep the Sabbath day holy. What does that mean? Can you work on the Sabbath? What constitutes work? Is cooking work? What about re-heating food in a microwave? Can you go for a walk? Can you start a fire? The Jews made thousands and thousands of rules and traditions to protect themselves from breaking the commandments. Imagine that you have something very beautiful and precious that you want to protect, so you build a fence around it. Well someone still may throw something over the fence, so you make another fence around that one that is higher. But there are still some holes in the fence so you put a third fence around the first two. This goes on and on until there are so many fences that it is impossible to even see the beautiful precious item you first sought to protect. By the time Jesus came around the Jews had a whole system of religion based on the keeping of the traditions and rules, so much so, that if you broke one of the traditions or rules, it was as bad for you as if you broke one of the commandments. The Pharisees were the best of the best at keeping the rules.
Jesus’s friends were not just accused of having dirty hands when they ate, they were accused of breaking the tradition of not washing their hands in the proper ceremonially way. Here is a video on how to wash your hands correctly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozOPl8A3Qxk.
Jesus had more issues with the religious leaders and their system of rules and traditions than He did with anything else. This was the ultimate reason why the leaders feared Him and demanded that He be put to death. He was threatening their source of power, wealth, and influence.
Jesus answered the scribes and Pharisees complaints in Matthew 15:3-9.He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Jesus was referring to the practice of Corban. Many of the religious leaders instead of helping their mothers and fathers in their times of need as they grew older, would dedicate their money to God. They would say, “Whatever money I had to give you is dedicated to God. I can’t help you.” How it worked was the person dedicated their possessions to God, and then got to live the rest of their lives off of it, helping no one, and then whatever was left over was given to the temple.
These were the traditions and rules that infuriated Jesus so much because the heart of the rule and tradition was so far from the heart of God. God said to honor your father and mother, but these leaders ignored God’s commandment to practice a man made, God dishonoring rule.
And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[a] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[b] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Jesus isn’t interested in you following the rules and traditions of man. This may come as a shock to you, but He isn’t really even interested in you following the Ten Commandments. He is really interested in having a relationship with you. This is the reason the Father cracked open the piggy bank of Heaven and sent His son to die a humiliating, and excruciatingly painful death. Am I saying all rules and traditions are bad and you shouldn’t follow the Ten Commandments? No, of course not. Christ died because we are sinners and are unable to keep the Law. No one has ever kept the Law perfectly, except Jesus. We get to go to Heaven because of Jesus’ once for all atoning sacrifice, not because of our ability to impress Him with our Law abiding. What makes grace grace is that we didn’t do anything to earn it. We get to go to Heaven off of the back of Jesus and not our own merit.
Now once you are a born again believer, I would recommend following as close as you can to the teachings of Jesus concerning the commandments. Adultery is so much more than having an affair. Murder is so much more than killing someone. What does it mean in today’s society to have other gods? How should we keep the Sabbath day holy? How should we honor our father and mother?
If you do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, I do not expect you to act any differently than the rest of the world does. If you do claim to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, and you act the way the rest of the world does, then we have a problem.
If you’re here tonight and are saying “I know I don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus,” then congratulations. You’re in the right room. We can walk you through the process of how you can know without a doubt that you will go to heaven when you die, and let me tell you that there is no better feeling than that.
If you are here tonight and are saying, “I’m a born again believer in Jesus and trust Him as my Lord and savior but I have X, Y, and Z going on in my life and I want to get rid of it.” Congratulations. You’re in the right room. We can help you with that, too. After salvation there comes a long and painful at times period of growth where God is chiseling off everything that doesn’t resemble Christ.