Promoting Bible Reading Culture

Lesson: SEPARATING THE GOSPEL FROM THE HEBREWS’ TRADITION TEXT: Mark 7:1-4 MEMORY VERSE: Matt. 15:3 Jesus replied, ‘And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (NIV) INTRODUCTION: Efforts must be made consistently in our time toward making sure the love of God embedded in the Gospel of His Holy One, Jesus, His Christ, for His humanity is preserved, lest, it be debased by the traditions of the first people (the Israel of the flesh) to whom it was first preached for lack of our divine scrutiny. Jesus and the message of God’s reconciliation of His divine creation to Himself called ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’ to the believers was not and will not be against the customs and/or traditions of any people which do not run counter to the decent and endearing teachings of Christ – a simple-to-be-applied Faith though not for simpletons. The Apostles were Hebrews who had received traditions (particular ways of doing things) both from God and their ancestors/elders before the teachings of God’s new government under Jesus came. Just as the Romans who colonized them then allowed them to used their moral traditions for decision making among them unless in civil issues, God likewise expected them to use what was given them before Christ’s advent for the well-being of each other. OBJECTIVE: At the end of the lesson, the audience should be able to see the difference between the Gospel of Christ, spiritual from heaven, and the Hebrews’ traditions and/or customs which are of this world and which are not part of the Gospel from above in many circumstances but are both found on the pages of the Bible. (cf. Heb.9:1,8) PRESENTATION: Step I: HEBREWS’ TRADITION EXHIBITED IN PUBLIC RELIGIOUS MINISTRY Nu.4:37-39; Luke 3:23) (a) Jesus had known God’s will as at age twelve since He taught the elders He found in the Temple (Luke 2:40-50). i. But His custom or tradition kept Him till He was thirty. (See Nu.4:39). ii. Teachers of His Faith MUST note that this information is not part of the Gospel that is mandatory for salvation of the soul. Step II: HEBREWS’ TRADITION EXHIBITED IN JESUS’ BAPTISM (cf. Matt. 15:1-2; 1Pet.3:21) (a) The Jews (Semites) had many types of ritual washings from their traditions and/or ancestors including water baptism. (our text) (b) Jesus never baptized with water to confess sin like the others but to identify with the extant people’s traditions (See Matt. 3:13-15). (c) Again, the above is not a part of the Gospel unless we choose to adopt this custom of the Jews. Step III: HEBREWS’ TRADITION EXHIBITED IN FASTING (a) In the Hebrews’ tradition, any serious religious deal started with a fast (so, the Holy Spirit encouraged Jesus to undergo so that He will not be suspicious and scare His subjects. (see Matt. 4:1-2; Mark 1:12-13) (b) That is why the Holy Spirit has not made it mandatory to Christians today. i. One may choose to fast or not for one’s spiritual revival. Step IV: HEBREWS’ TRADITION EXHIBITED IN GENDER VARIANCE (a) In the Hebrews’ customs, only men of military age (20 years and above) were counted during census (cf. Ex.12:37; 38:24-26; Matt. 14:19-21). i. These were those mandated to appear with offerings. (see Deut.16:16-17) (b) This tradition could not permit even Jesus’ mother (Mary) to share her experience with her Son while alive with her in Church gatherings as a member of the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12,14). (c) The four daughters of Evangelist Philip that prophesied could only be active because persecution had driven them out from the Jewish territories to Caesarea (See Acts 21:8,9) (d) Many Gentiles’ Proselytes adopted this tradition through the reading of the Hebrews’ Scriptures in Synagogues built in their cities (cf. Acts 15:21; John 7:34-35). i. In Achaia (Corinth) 1Cor. 14:34-35, and Asia Minor (Ephesus) 1Tim.1:3; 2:11-15, this Hebrews’ custom was adopted. ii. In the Gentiles’ Province of Galatia, however, this tradition of the Hebrews was not adopted (see Gal, 3:26-28.). – Read also “11 Cor. 5:16” to see the sole celestial focus of the new life in Christ. – Such was an opportunity for Apostle Paul to separate what is binding for believers and what is not. Step V: HEBREWS’ TRADITION EXHIBITED IN LANGUAGE AND AUDIENCE (a) The first preachers preached the Gospel to various people and groups with the aim of winning them to the faith of Jesus (cf. 1Cor. 9:24-26; John 20:30-31). i. The writer of Matthew uses ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’ because of Jewish audience at heart acknowledging their reluctance in the mention of divine names since seeing themselves as ‘men of unclean lips’. (cf. Matt. 13:33). ii. Although the colonizers’ official language was “Latin”, they (Romans) allowed them (Jews) to use their native Hebrew and the Babylonian Aramaic learnt during their years in captivity (cf. John 19:20). iii. Howbeit, the writer of Luke used ‘The Kingdom of God’ on the same parable because he was writing to a Gentile convert (See Luke 13:20-21). iv. Matthew and Luke have done a similar thing on baptism though it seems Matthew wrote much later because of the phrase, ‘to this day’ (See Acts 2:38, 41; Matt. 28:18-20; 27:7-8; 28: 15) v. In preaching to the Jews, the first preachers would start from Abraham because, they assumed, their audience were familiar with the Hebrew history (cf. Acts 13:14-17). vi. This pattern was, however, not followed when preaching to Gentiles (cf. Acts 17:16-31). vi. Given the type of audience, Jesus’ baptism of ‘Acts 1:4-5’ does not correspond with that of ‘Matt.3:7-12’. – Because in the audience of ‘Acts 1:4-5’, the unbelieving Scribes and Pharisees are not present, the word, “fire” is missing unlike in ‘Matt. 3:7-12’ in which there was an audience with believers and unbelievers blended together. – Mark took time to translate and explain the meanings of every Hebrew word and activity to his Gentile audience (Mark 5:41; 7:11,34; 2:26; 14:12; 15:42). CONCLUSION: Where the Gospel is a Good News of man’s return to God’s Paradise (The Garden of Eden) lost through the disobedience of the first Adam and regained through our faith in the death, burial, resurrection, ascension of Christ, the faithful and obedient last Adam, and His promised return to ultimately save us, (the basic elements in the Gospel), those who first benefited were met living in their peculiar ways called customs and/or traditions (cf. Rom.14:1-8). The preaching of Christ brings the above one hope which pricks unbelievers into believing to thereafter live looking up to Jesus Christ the Beginner and Finisher of the Faith. That should be the paramount reason of going to Christ through His teachings and the traditions and/or customs of men (Hebrews’ inclusive) to serve as possible means or platforms. EVALUATION: 1. Where was the center of indoctrination of the Gentiles on the Hebrews’ tradition? 2. Why would Jesus not continue in His public ministry immediately after His encounter with the Jewish teachers in the temple at age twelve? 3. Which law in Israel hinders us from hearing Mary’s voice in the Church in Jerusalem? 4. Anyone may or may not adopt the Hebrews’ customs: water or ceremonial baptism, women silence, fasting, language, public ministry age, etc. Explain. PRAYER: Thank God for His Word and pray for revelation into the preparatory work of those God sent before Christ and how that is different from the substantial work of Christ, the One for Whom they prepared. (cf. John 10:1-10)

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