Matthew 15:1-20 – INFECTION CONTROL! 

Infection Control!

Infection Control!
Image created by author using, and Filter Forge

I would have been horrified too! I know how essential something as simple as good hygiene can be. An infectious outbreak could end the lives of the elderly and frail in the Aged Care Facility where I work if not for staff taking care to wash their hands and actively minimising the possibility of contamination.

So it’s not surprising that the infection auditors; the Pharisees and teachers of religious law come all the way from Jerusalem to see Jesus (Matthew 15:1-2 NLT). They immediately get upset with the disciples for not washing their hands before a meal? I’ve completed the mandatory training in infection control so I’m with the Pharisees. What! Do you want the feeding of the 4000 to end up being a healing meeting for Gastro Enteritis, Multi Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, Influenza, Whooping Cough, Chicken Pox, Shingles, Fever, Conjunctivitis, Polio, or even leprosy! INFECTIOUS OUTBREAK! Everyone is a possible carrier! That many people in quarantine will be a nightmare! The disciples SHOULD wash their hands!

The Pharisees and Teachers of religious law have had Jesus under surveillance since He arrived, but not personally? They have their own satellite tracking devises and close circuit TV in the form of their spies who watch the activity of Jesus and report back. At the slightest breach of protocol, they race from Jerusalem with sirens blaring to confront Jesus. They want to nail this guy before the infection of faith spreads.

So the Faith Prevention & Control Police (FPCP) arrive on the scene to investigate Jesus and His Work Health and Safety standards (WHS). They come with their sterile plastic gowns, gloves and masks covering their hearts to target Jesus as a threat to religious control, but Jesus confronts them with the infection of their own malice.

Perhaps I don’t want to align myself with the Pharisees afterall. Yes, it would have been a good idea for the disciples to wash their hands because of good hygiene, but the religious leaders themselves have blood on their hands and they pollute others with their vitriolic poison. They try to protect themselves from Jesus by wearing the surgical masks of their outward righteousness but their righteousness is as filthy rags in His presence.

“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6).

Pharisees try to vaccinate themselves with religious laws and traditions, but they fail to realise that they are the carriers of a deadly, resistant virus that has been draining the life from people for years. Jesus has the only cure.

Proverbs 30:12 (NIV) says that there are “those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;”

I’ve known some Pharisees. At times I’ve been one. Pharisees and religious leaders, like a bad case of the flu often turn up to infect others with their contaminating words, like airborn germs, that cause hearts to fail and faith to falter. With acerbic seeds they come to challenge Jesus but refuse to be challenged or healed themselves. They are ceremoniously clean on the outside, but Jesus exposes the rancorous, festering wounds of their hearts. Faith is an airborne virus itself. Good bacteria. God bacteria. I am not immune to His words and He continues to challenge me with His claims.

All this handwashing. What’s the big deal? Do they have some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder? Do they have a right to demand anything from Jesus? Do I? Or is it that Jesus is demanding something of me? What has the tradition of ceremonial hand washing really got to do with it anyway? Jesus doesn’t buy into my confrontation without pointing out the blaring inconsistencies in choosing to live according to a set of man-made mores.

Psalms 51:2,7 (ESV) cries out “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin… wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” 

Today I refuse to be infected by religion. I take off my antiseptic, sterile masks which I have tried to use against the outbreak of my sin and accept the words of healing grace as Jesus says “You are clean”. He took my sin and disease on the Cross. He conquered death by rising again from the dead. He offers me eternal life. He cleanses my life and gives me a new spirit and responsive heart to God.

Pastor Ross 

  1. I love this posting, Ross. My prayer: Continue infecting me Lord with Your Faith, for Your Faith is the only “good” virus. This truth is why my spirit, soul, and body incessantly need Your Faith.


  2. Rich Langton says:

    Ps Ross – This is a great post – so challenging! Thank you for writing and sharing and also for being a part of our creative team. It’s so good to have your experience and wisdom amongst us!!


  3. […] Matthew 15:1-20 – INFECTION CONTROL! […]


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