We often will make excuses to justify not doing something. I hear a lot of excuses as a Pastor. I am sure this is true for anyone in a position of authority. Would you be surprised to learn that Jesus does not accept excuses for not obeying God’s Word? I recently came across a passage where Jesus reminds us that there are no valid excuses for not honoring our parents!
I preached my last message in the “Life Lessons” sermon series this past Sunday from the gospels. It also happened to be Mother’s Day. I spent last week looking at what Jesus’ life might have to teach us related to this holiday. I was surprised to find a passage that speaks to our need to honor our mothers and also fathers. It is a passage the reminds us that there are no excuses for not taking care of our parents.
The passage begins with the Pharisees and Scribes accusing Jesus that His men were not keeping the Jewish tradition of washing before they ate. It was Jesus’ response that caught my attention. It is an attack on Jesus. But His response actually brings us a greater violation on their part. “He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3) What He points out is that while His men might be guilty of breaking man’s religious rules, they were guilty of breaking God’s Law. This is significant considering the source. These men would have known the Torah better than anyone else. Yet, they will fully promoted a rabbinical tradition to negate one of the Ten Commandments!
They were using dedicating their resources to God as an excuse for not taking care of their parents. And to make matters worse it seems that once this commitment was made there were no exceptions. So, even if the child wanted to help his parents, he could not. Now I need to digress for a moment so that we can grasp the egregiousness of this practice. They were, in essence, making an excuse for not having to fulfill the fifth commandment. The fifth commandment stated the responsibility to honor your father and mother. The first four of the Ten Commands focus on man’s relationship with God. The last six focus on man’s relationship with man. And the command to honor your parents is the first commandment in this section. I believe that the Lord was intentional in the order of the commandments. If so, that means that Honor our parents is more important than Thou shall not murder, marital faithfulness, honesty, truthfulness and contentment. God said that honoring parents is more important than these other five important areas of our relationship with others. Think about that for a moment. The religious leaders were making excuses for not doing what God explicitly commanded.
And so Jesus in essence says to them, “You have no excuse!” The Biblical concept of honoring your parents does involve the nice things that we are supposed to do but it also includes taking care of them by meeting their needs as they age. It means, at the least, that we strive to insure that they are clothed, fed and have a place to live. It could involve much more. I covered a lot more in the message, but what an appropriate reminder on Mother’s Day that there is no valid excuse for not taking care of parents! So, how are you doing?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson