My new word for “tradition” is “rules.”
Tradition in modern churches is when we hang the greens. Tradition is how do we honor graduates. Tradition is the song we sing on a particular Sunday or event. That is not the same thing as “tradition” in Mark 7.
Traditions for the Pharisees were rules for godly behavior. Wash your hands. Walk only this far on the Sabbath. Pray at these times. Fast on these days. We have those things and we call them rules.
Rules like: You must listen to Christian music. You can’t drink alcohol of any kind. You can’t go to “R” rated movies. You must pray in restaurants. You must witness to the guy trying to sleep next to you on the airplane. Rules. Sometimes stated, sometimes not, always enforced.
We can pair our rules with Bible verses that sound as if they fit and SHAZAAM! we have a rule that has the force of Scripture. And we can use that rule to control the people around us.
Jesus came to break the chains of those rules.
Jesus came, not to bring ever-expanding rules, but He came to bring freedom from them. He came to give real grace that actually makes us clean. Rules can’t do that. Jesus came to tell us that God loves us apart from all the rules.
And that is real grace.
Real grace always makes us squirm a little. We who are inclined to rules might even quip, “Are you saying that we should just keep sinning because we are covered by grace?” To which, Paul has a really good answer in Romans 6, but his answer has nothing to do with rules. Check it out.