I heard a story years ago about a newly married man who noticed something unusual when he watched his wife cook the Christmas ham. As she prepared it, she cut the ends off and discarded them. When he asked why, she was puzzled by the question. “That’s the way you’re supposed to do it. That’s the way my mom taught me.” The next Christmas they had dinner at his in-laws and he made a point to watch his mother-in-law prepare dinner. Sure enough, she too cut the ends off the ham. So he asked her why. She told him the same thing his wife said. “That’s the way my mother taught me to do it.” So a year rolls by and they have Christmas dinner at his wife’s grandmothers. She prepared the Christmas ham the same way. When he asked why, she pointed to her antique oven and said, “that’s the only way I can get it to fit!” We like tradition. Tradition can be very freeing as they give us a framework for how to do things. But sometimes they work against the very thing they were meant to help. That was the case in the Jewish people in the passage we’re looking at this morning. They had established many traditions in order to help them in their relationship with God. But, we learn, over the course of time these traditions had become the very thing that prevented them from having a relationship with God.
Jesus reminds them and us that a relationship with God comes through him and not through tradition.