Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Wednesday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Posted on July 10, 2024 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 15:1-9 (NKJV)
15:1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 ‘And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Two things are contrasted: the tradition of the elders and the commands of God. Each has its rightful place. Lutherans are not anti-tradition. Augsburg Confession, article XV, says, “With regard to church usages that have been established by men, it is taught among us that those usages are to be observed which may be observed without sin and which contribute to peace and good order in the church.” However, if human traditions transgress the Word of God, then those traditions must not be observed.
The prophet Isaiah’s rebuke fits the actions of the scribes and Pharisees. They are observing the outward trappings of hand-washing, which certainly could teach about ceremonial cleanness. Though they acted as if they cared about ceremonial cleanness, they rejected the true washing away of sins brought by Jesus’ forgiveness. These teachers also contradicted the Fourth Commandment by their rules regarding church gift-giving (korban). A hypocrite may observe externals, but it is a mere pretense, in order to cover up an unbelieving heart. After repeated denials, a hypocrite may actually think he is pleasing God when he is only observing man’s rules.
The true worship of God is determined by God, not man. God desires that we, who have come to learn of our sins through the Law, would seek the forgiveness of sins, which we have come to learn through the Gospel of God.
Collect: Lord of all power and might, Who art the Author and Giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of Thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of Thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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