3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

There can be no more effectual means of "taking away" from the words of God than by denying that He was their author, or by suggesting that He caused words to be written which did not convey infallible truth. It will perhaps be contended that when certain were charged with casting God's law behind their backs (Neh. 9:26) that it was only in the sense of walking contrary to its requirements. But such a contention is not in harmony with the facts.

The Israelites were throughout their whole history, a religious nation, humanly speaking. They did not apostatize to atheism, but to other religions. Therefore their apostasies were due to a depreciation, and even denial of the divine claims of the revelation they had received from God. In Psalm 50:16, it is written

"But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction and casteth my words behind thee."

Here we have a class described as "the wicked," who "declared God's statutes" and "took his covenant into their mouths."

In Christ's day, we see another illustration of this in the scribes and Pharisees who were denounced by him as wicked, in most unmeasured terms. Yet these men were scrupulously religious; they were the custodians and transmitters of the sacred writings, but they corrupted the spirit of those writings by the traditions of the elders, thereby making void the Word of God.

They were never charged by Christ with corrupting the text of those writings. What they did was to exalt commandments of men into doctrines, and so, in effect, to deny the divine origin of the commandments of God. By "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" they exalted human words to an equality with God's; and debased God's words to a level with men's-thus esteeming them to be of no better than human authorship.


The Christadelphian, July 1886

13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

The Scribes and Pharisees, priests and elders, seemed planted firmly enough. They were revered by all the people, and substantially supported by them in the payment of tithes. Nothing could be more apparently stable and respectable than the priestly institution that flourished in Palestine in the days of Jesus. And nothing could have put forward better prima facie claims to be an institution of divine planting: for it was the continuance of the institution established by divine appointment in the wilderness by the hand of Moses. 

The divinity of it in this respect was recognised by Jesus himself on another occasion, when he said, "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat." Yet here, he denies by implication that they were divinely planted, and foretells their rooting up, as came to pass forty years afterwards.

On what principle did he deny in the one case what he seemed to admit in the other? It is supplied in the further remark he made: "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind, and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." 

Here were men divinely "planted" in the official sense whose position ceased to be divinely recognised by reason of individual declension from those conditions and qualifications which were the aim of the official institution. Because they were not such as the Father could approve individually and morally, their collective and official planting became a nullity. This is reasonable. What is the use of a priesthood if it has ceased to answer the end for which it was appointed? (Mal. ii. 7).

Nazareth Revisited Ch 36.

20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

'... the disciples wanted to know Christ's meaning about nothing going into a man defiling him. A very superfluous question it may seem to us, but it would not be so to those who, like them, had been brought up under a system that recognised and insisted on the defiling effects of certain meats and drinks, and physical contacts and conditions. Jesus appeared to regret their want of discernment: "Are ye so without understanding also?" 

He then explained to them that the true source of human defilement was the heart "out of which proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness." "All these evil things," said he, "come from within and defile the man." What a man ate, he insisted, could not defile him.

This is now all obvious enough, except where men receive a bias from the Judaism which was early planted among believers in the first century. In such cases, the ceremonial distinctions of the law of Moses retain some of their force, as evidenced by scruples (other than hygienic) about the eating of swine's flesh.

 Paul makes short work of these scruples in maintaining the absolute freedom of believers from the law of Moses, particularly in the matter of eating and drinking (Rom. vi. 14, 15; xiv. 3-16). Paul's sentiments on this subject must not be attributed to Paul, as is the modern habit. Paul maintained that what he wrote were the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. xiv. 37) and Christ, who sent Paul, said of the apostles in general, "He that heareth you heareth me" (Luke x. 16).

Nazareth Revisited Ch 36

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

'...a Greek woman (called also "a woman of Canaan," and a "Syro-Phoenician," because the Greeks were really the descendants of colonists from Phoenicia, and the Phoenicians were a remnant of the nations of Canaan left unsubdued when the land was conquered by Israel under Joshua)

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The simple fact is what he stated -- that this woman had no claim on his attention. His mission was to the house of Israel, outside of God's plan with whom, the world of sinners was as so much grass of the earth growing up and passing away, filling but an evanescent part in the scheme of things.

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

'... the woman with the irrepressible eagerness of a mother seeking her daughter's benefit, pushed herself right before Christ and prostrated herself

26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

His true and graceful adroitness never failed him. He could not be harsh, but he did not retreat from the position of truth he had taken up. He said to the woman in another form what he had said to the disciples: "It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs." Her perfectly humble and apposite rejoinder left Jesus no alternative (as we might almost say) but to grant her request.

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

This removed the objection that lay in the way. Jesus, who had strictly forbidden his disciples in their separate tours to "go into the way of the Gentiles," would naturally feel that his compliance with this woman's request, apart from a recognition of their mutual positions, would be in collision with his own instructions, and lay his position open to misunderstanding. But when the woman acknowledged herself a "dog," and asked only a crumb, Jesus had no scruples.

Away the woman went: this was the whole extent of her desire -- a creature benefit: and she got it.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 36

38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Nothing easier: Jesus produced bread sufficient for the feeding of the multitude. The only difference between the bread so produced and ordinary bread was in the way it was made. When made, the one was the same as the other. Both were equal marvels when looked at rightly. The bread naturally produced was slowly manufactured from invisible elements in the light, rain, soil, etc.

Because slowly conducted, the process does not strike us: but it is in itself as wonderful as any miracle.

In the bread that Jesus produced, the elements were gathered and combined instantaneously, that was all the difference - a great difference truly, and one beyond the power of man, but still a difference more of mode than of essence. The mode is divine and wonderful in both cases, but in the one it is slow, and in the other quick.

The quickness was necessary to show undoubtedly the presence and operation of divine power. This you will find to be the case in all miracles.

The Trial - Bro Roberts