It may appear that the Pharisees and Scribes are arguing about small elements of legalism when their eyes are telling them that amazing things are happening here and who is this man? However, the differences between the two parties are enormous and of tremendous importance. Why didn't Jesus and His disciples not follow the traditions of the elders? Where did this tradition originate? A few centuries before Jesus was born, a group of religious leaders-the scribes- sought to define the Law of the Old Testament and they issued thousands of little rules which were not written down, but assumed the same authority as the Law. One of these was washing your hands. This wasn't for hygiene purposes but for ceremonial cleanliness. Before a meal, also between courses, hands must be washed in a certain way and if this wasn't done, that person was perceived to be unclean in the eyes of God! This is what Jesus was up against! He wasn't breaking the Old Testament Law, but the man made rules supposedly stemming from them! If you were a Christian many years ago then you would not have been allowed to hang your washing to dry on a Sunday or kick a football around! You would not have been allowed to go to the cinema ever or drink alcohol! These were signs of religiosity overwhelming some good ethical principles, they weren't part of the Christian ethos!
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