Monday, September 05, 2011

Matthew 23:23-24


23 ``Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 ``You blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

The point of Jesus' saying is this. It was universally accepted that tithes of the main crops must be given. But mint and dill and cummin are herbs of the kitchen garden and would not be grown in any quantity; a person would have only a little patch of them. All three were used in cooking, and dill and cummin had medicinal uses.

To tithe them was to tithe an infinitesimally small crop, maybe not much more than the produce of one plant. Only those who were super meticulous would tithe the single plants of the kitchen garden. This is exactly what the Pharisees were like. They were so absolutely meticulous about tithes that they would tithe even one clump of mint; and yet these same men could be guilty of injustice; could be hard and arrogant and cruel, forgetting the claims of mercy; could take oaths and pledges and promises with the deliberate intention of evading them, forgetting any sense of right and wrong. In other words, many of them kept the trifles of the Law and forgot the things which really matter.

Jesus uses a vivid illustration of straining out a gnat. A gnat was an insect and therefore unclean; and so was a camel. In order to avoid the risk of drinking anything unclean, wine was strained out, so that any possible impurity might be strained out of it. This is a humorous picture which must have raised a laugh of a man carefully straining his wine through gauze to avoid swallowing a microscopic insect and yet cheerfully most willingly swallows a camel. It is the picture of a man who has completely lost his sense of proportion.

They majored in the minors and minored in the majors! And its still going on today