Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, which strain out a gnat and swallow a camel
This is a rather interesting verse in Matthew’s Gospel. Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant in this saying?
I was studying this small text and was quite amazed at its depth and meaning. Jesus painted a picture with His words, as He usually did, with this strong rebuke to the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t spare words when He described the Pharisees as “hypocrites,” “serpents,” “vipers,” “blind guides” and even “fools.” What brought about this rebuke to the religious leaders of that day?
For one, the Pharisees majored on the minor and minored on the major. Secondly, they believed they had a corner on the spiritual marketplace. Jesus, not so kindly, tells them other wise. The Pharisees appeared to be the spiritual guru and sneered their nose at anyone who didn’t see it their way. Granted, they went above and beyond the Law, but left zero room for God’s Grace. So Jesus paints a portrait with gnat straining and camel swallowing.
According to the Law of Moses, gnats and camels were considered unclean and the Jews were not to eat them (Deut. 14:3-20). The gnat and the camel represented the smallest and the largest, respectively, of the prohibited animals. The Jewish religious leaders would drink wine with clenched teeth to avoid any gnats or insects that may have gotten into their wine. The Pharisees were more concerned about being contaminated by the smallest insect than they were about swallowing a large camel. So in actuality, according to Jesus, they were more concerned about an unclean insect than they were about their greed, pride, ego, self-worship, jealousy and dishonesty.
“They regarded trifles as if they were of first importance, and so, as it were, strained out gnats from their wine, lest they should be choked; but they committed great sins without any compunctions of conscience, and thus, in effect, swallowed a camel, an unclean animal, equal in size to an almost innumerable quantity of gnats. There are gnat-strainers among us still, who apparently have no difficulty in swallowing a camel, ‘hump and all.‘” - Charles Spurgeon