THE LEGENDS OF CHRISTMAS AND EASTER
TRUTH OR TRADITION
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions . . . Thus, you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down (Mark 7: 8; 13).
Is it possible to cancel the truth of God’s Word by our traditions?
Jesus had a bone to pick with the Pharisees. They changed God’s instructions to suit themselves, included their alterations in their interpretation of the Torah, and held people accountable for obeying or not obeying what they prescribed as law.
God’s instructed His people to honour their parents. The religious leaders overwrote that instruction with another. They gave the money they should have used to support their parents, to the temple, declaring that it was “corban”, devoted to God, meaning that they were obliged to give it to God. They may have looked “holy”, but they deliberately disobeyed God to impress people. They cancelled God’s command by setting up their own.
Yes, it is possible to override God’s instructions by our tradition, even in the name of our faith in Jesus.
A glaring example of this practice is the way the church copies the world in its celebration of Christmas and Easter, as though God ordered and sanctioned these festivals. How can we find out for ourselves whether these practices are Biblical, and rooted in the truth of Scripture? God commanded His people to:
. . . Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil (1 Thess. 5: 21).
As God-honouring and Christ-honouring people, it is our duty to test everything we believe and practise since we are Jesus’ chosen witnesses to the truth of what He came to do and to teach. Luke, in the Book of Acts, singled out the Bereans for a word of affirmation:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17: 11).
It is a tragic fact that believers in Jesus rely more on what their denomination or so-called “teachers” tell them than on the truth of the Word of God which they ought to study for themselves. Like the religious leaders in Jesus’s day, we fail to search for the evidence that will prove or disprove whether preachers and teachers are disseminating the truth.
God instructed His people to celebrate seven feasts which He called “appointed feasts” which they were to celebrate at a particular time each year. The feasts presented in picture form what Messiah would do when He came, in order and in two parts.
The first four feasts depicted what He would do when He came the first time – He would deliver them from slavery (Passover), remove sin (Unleavened Bread), rise from the dead as the first-fruits of the resurrection (Firstfruits) and send the Holy Spirit to gather in the harvest (Pentecost).
He will fulfil the last three feasts when He returns – Trumpets (Yom Teruah – the Feast of Trumpets) will precede the Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur) and finally the Feast of Tabernacles when He comes to make us His dwelling place forever.
As Gentile believers in Jesus, God has not commanded us to celebrate the feasts. The Jews rehearsed the work of Messiah each year as they anticipated His coming and work. However, our faith is rooted in Jesus whom God sent into a Hebrew home, who grew up in Hebrew society and spoke the Hebrew language. We cannot disconnect what He did and taught from its Hebrew roots.
Jesus gave us two ordinances to celebrate and remember His death and resurrection, both of which arise from the Hebrew culture which God taught to His people. We celebrate Jesus’ death by taking part in what we call “The Lord’s Supper”, a communal meal in which His body eats bread and drinks wine to remember His broken body and shed blood for our salvation. The Lord’s Supper fulfils the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5: 7-8).
The ordinance of baptism is a ceremonial washing which identifies the believer with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who were all active in our salvation. Baptism commemorates and identifies us with Jesus’ resurrection and signifies that we have died with Him and risen to a new life.
Don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death. We were, therefore, buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Rom. 6: 3-4).
When we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection through baptism, we recognise that Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits. His resurrection guarantees that those who believe in Him will also rise to new life. We have risen from spiritual death to new life now as we live for Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. We will also rise with Him from physical death, never to die again when He returns to establish His kingdom of earth.
Our first consideration, therefore, is that Jesus is the Messiah and that He came to fulfil God’s plan, outlined in the feasts of the Lord in the Old Testament, and not in the traditions which are practised by the world today.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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