Matthew 15: 1-2. “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do Thy disciples transgress the traditions of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.”
Scribes not only copied out the scriptures; they also taught and explained what they meant.
The word Pharisee meant separated ones; they were also called chasidim, or loved of God. How ironic, since they made themselves the enemies of Jesus right from the beginning. It isn’t totally clear when the sect of the Pharisees got their start, but most evidence points to the time of the Maccabees. They became very powerful; they were vocal and attracted the wealthy and influential who not only wanted to keep the Law themselves, but also to make sure everyone else did.
Now, here they all came, wrapped in their robes of righteousness and their bad attitudes, obviously feeling as if they finally had something that Jesus wouldn’t be able to deny or explain away with His tendency to evade the question by asking a question of them in return. Oh, I can see them as they approach. Quite a retinue, I’m sure, what with their servants and other followers who were looking for a good show. How solemnly they must have stode toward Jesus, full of their own authority.
It was, after all, one of the MOST important parts of the law that His disciples had broken.
They apparently hadn’t washed their hands before they ate!
Intolerable! Unconscionable! Degenerates! Filthy fishermen! This has to be stopped, and right now! And we’re just the ones to do it!