Bible Reference: Luke 11:37-44.
At the end of a day of teaching, a Pharisee invited Jesus to his house to eat. Christ entered the house and reclined at the table. The Pharisee was surprised that Jesus didn’t wash his hands before the meal. Knowing what his host was thinking, Jesus admonished him, saying that Pharisees clean the outsides of dishware while they disregard the insides which are full of greed and wickedness. Pharisees’ tithe on mint, rue, and garden herbs, but neglect justice and the love of God. Christ admonished the Pharisees to practice justice and love as well as tithing.
The mint that grew in the Holy Land was Mentha longifolia, sometimes known as Mentha spicata L., wild mint. Greek words for mint mean joy and rejoice. Words are appropriate for mint which medicinally relieves headaches, aids digestion, and is used to cover unsavory tastes and smells.
If they lived in strict adherence to the Mosaic laws, the Pharisees could have been happy, joyful people; yet, I could find no place in the Bible where the Pharisees were described as happy or joyful. Is it possible that righteous behavior does not lead to happiness?
William MacDonald (1995) succinctly summarized why Pharisees weren’t happy and joyful. They were externalists; which means they were punctilious about small details of the law, i.e., hand washing. At the same time, they neglected the greater commandments to love God and their neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40). They emphasized the subordinate and overlooked the primary laws of God. Happiness and joy cannot come when God or his primary commandments are ignored. Happiness comes from loving God and striving to please him in all things. Joy comes from doing good to others.
Reflection. Christ said, whatever you do to the least man, woman or child, you do to me; and whatever you do not do to the least man, woman, or child you do not do to me (Matthew 25:40, 45).
Updated: March 2023
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