Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Matthew 15: 1 – 2
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ Jewish culture and upbringing are emphasised. These were very important to the gospel author and to the early Christians, and during Jesus lifetime, the people who opposed him tried frequently to undermine him by showing that he and his disciples were uneducated people and not good, practicing Jews. Here, in these two verses, the Pharisees and legal teachers were trying to humiliate and undermine Jesus by publicly judging his disciples. The Pharisees and teachers were implying that they themselves were much better than Jesus and his disciples, virtue-signalling as it’s sometimes called.
This is particularly relevant now. How often do we look at people who aren’t wearing masks, or who walk past the hand sanitiser, and either think or say ‘well, I don’t think much of them. Why aren’t they wearing masks or cleaning their hands?’ We feel we’re better than them. There is a horrible, smug pleasure to this, but Jesus makes it clear it is not our place to judge others so we can feel more pleased with ourselves.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, please give me compassion and empathy for the people I encounter. Help me to be loving and humble, and save me from smugness and judgement of others. Amen
Action: when you’re out, try to be conscious and catch yourself before you think or say judgemental things.