Matthew 15:1-20 ESV
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 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 his 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.'” And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
I. DISPUTE OVER TRADITIONS (1-6)
A. Pharisees make accusation about not practicing customary hand washing of the Jews. (Luke 11:37-38)
B. Jesus responds with accusation about Pharisees making traditions that opposed the commands of God. (Exodus 20:12)
II. DANGER OF CULTURAL PREFERNCE IN CHURCH
A. The tradition of the Pharisees was a common cultural practice they elevated to a “must do” in their religion.
B. Cultural / generational preferences reflected in modern church too.
C. Our sinful inclination towards showy religion elevates preferences to entrenched idols that become “must do’s” in the church.
D. When cultural preferences become labor of church & hinder mission of Jesus to make new followers we need new traditions.
III. RESULT OF OVERELEVATED PREFERENCES (7-9)
A. Creates hypocritical disingenuous followers of Jesus.
B. Leads to vain worship because it is worship of me & since it is about me it is worthless and meaningless to God.
IV. THE WORST OF ALL TRADITIONS (10-11, 15-20)
A. The worst tradition is believing in a false gospel that tell us if we will modify our behavior we will become good with God.
B. Problem not what we do but who we are apart from Jesus.
C. Jesus does not offer us rehabilitation but transformation. We do not learn to manage our deeds but we get new desires.
V. HOW GRACE OFFENDS THE BLIND SELF-RIGHEOUS (12-14)
A. The Pharisees are offended at the idea that all are in equal need of grace because they are blind to their own depravity.
B. Gospel not about you becoming good. Anyone who tells you it is a blind guide and if you follow it will lead to destruction.
1. Embrace a church culture that binds diverse people around Jesus rather than uniform people around traditions or trends.
2. Stop defining standing with God by how good you are at being good. Jesus is good and has made you good already.