John 8:31-33 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, You will be made free'?"
There is quite a bit of attention paid, these days, to where we come from. Genealogy has gone from an obscure hobby of a few, to a big business and a main stream interest. It seems that people are looking for roots, something that might help them stand amid all the winds of change. Its not a bad thing to have roots, but there is more to life than just roots.
We have a lot of roots in our every day life, just go through your day, minute by minute, and as you do the things that fill your day ask yourself why are you doing this, and why are you doing it this way? And as you do you will find a lot of traditions, from the way morning begins, to the way we end the day – there is a lot of stuff that we do, because we’ve always done it that way. Sometimes we think that – we’ve always done it this way – is something that belongs only to the church, or only to those who are older. But even the young have their traditions, from the clothes that they wear to the food that they eat.
Tradition is not necessarily a bad thing, but they do need to be examined from time to time, otherwise we become enslaved to traditions, customs and habits. Funny, for we live in a time when there seems to be an almost universal recognition that slavery in any form is evil. The world says that everyone has a right to be free – it may not tell you how to be free, but it will tell you, you have a right to be free. The problem is, that the world is blind, for it cannot see that it is a slave, and it has been living without freedom – ever since, ever since Adam, because of sin, was expelled from the garden of Eden. The tradition of the world is to be a slave to sin. The world is not free.
The whole point of the reformation, is to examine tradition. Luther did not care about arguments which said, we’ve always done it this way – he asked, What does the scripture say? You see the heart of the reformation can be found in the words of Jesus, "If you continue in my word…" because that is the only way that leads to freedom.
The word of God, when it speaks to us tends to do one of 2 things, first it shows us our sin, and then in shows us our savior. The law shows us the wrath of God, and the gospel shows us the grace of God in the forgiveness of sins which comes in Christ Jesus. If you don’t see your sins, you don’t see the need for a savior. And that is exactly what was at stake in our lesson today, people were trusting in tradition, they didn’t see their sins, and so when the grace of God comes, they were in a real danger of saying, No Thanks!
Can this happen to us? Look at your day, and consider how many things you do because of tradition habit or custom. Each time we do things, because we’ve always done it that way, we are in danger – not because the things are bad in themselves – but we are in danger, because we have not asked – what is God’s will for us? – what does God want us to do?– what would give God the glory?
How do we prevent this? We examine ourselves, it might begin with the question, why are we doing this – but it continues as we consider God’s will for our lives, as we find it in the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments won’t show us the way to heaven, but they will show us our sins, and show us our need for our savior. Then we will be ready to hear the good news of forgiveness which is ours in Christ Jesus, to hear again the story of God’s great love and faithfulness, the story of grace and mercy, for it is the gospel which give life, and the gospel which sets us free.