Traditions of Men
For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
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?”
He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
— Mark 7:3-9
There is nothing wrong with having traditions. Many of us have them; whether they are traditions that are for the holidays or traditions that take place on a weekly, or even daily, basis. I remember a tradition of my grandparents where (almost) every Sunday after church we would have roast beef, potatoes, and gravy. It was something that we could count on to have.
We can even read of how Christians in the New Testament were told to keep some traditions (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:2).
However, Jesus does provide a warning of what could go wrong with traditions. It is possible that the traditions of men could interfere with our obedience to God. If our traditions cause us to reject the commandments of God than we become like the Pharisees in Mark 7 - and that is a dangerous position to be in.
We can’t be placing a greater emphasis on rules that we have come up with than on those provided by God. Whatever traditions we may have, we need to ensure that they do not creep up into the number one spot reserved for our Father. We are to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).
-- John Thrower Jr.