Why do you break the commandment?
Why do you break the commandment of God because of your traditions? (Matthew 15:3)
Tradition is a powerful and influential force. It is familiar and non-threatening, and there is a degree of safety or security in it. Many people follow a certain religion or belong to a particular denomination simply because their parents or grandparents did, or it's something that their family has always done over many generations.
Some churches have particular rituals or traditions they follow, and most members probably do not understand the origins or meanings of these traditions and whether they are scripturally correct or not. This is why prophets of the Old Testament, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ caused such a stir, for they offered new ways of thinking, upset the established order, and fought against tradition.
It doesn't matter how well intentioned, meaningful, or helpful the tradition may be. If it is not according to Christ and His Word, if it becomes something we think we must do to be saved, if it hinders us from knowing Him, then it is worthless insofar as God's Kingdom is concerned and must be discarded. It is dead weight and an unnecessary burden to carry. Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden light, yet we insist on trying to carry more.
The apostle Paul, in his selfless love and concern over the church at Corinth, said, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if someone comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or should you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you are all too willing to listen." (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 italics mine)
The Scribes and Pharisees of Israel were guilty of adding their own traditions to the Law and regarding them as having equal authority with God's laws. The commandment to rest on the Sabbath had been so twisted by the religious leaders that even a man healed by Christ was chastised for taking up his bed on the Sabbath. Yet Jesus asked, "Which one of you, if your ox falls into a well on the Sabbath, will not pull it out?"
Jesus issued a stinging rebuke to them, "You hypocrites! How well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines." (Matthew 15:7-9).
The religious traditions of men can be the greatest distraction from a simple, abiding relationship with Christ. Tradition dictates much of what is said and done in our churches and our lives. But that doesn't mean our tradition is right. Many people equate their traditions with God's commandments, and when given a choice between following tradition and following the Lord, most will choose the non-threatening road of tradition. Will you be the exception?