Much of Eastern thinking is comparison, with the emphasis on one or the other in the comparison depending on the intent. At other times both comparisons are to make the same point and these are often humorous and preposterous although quite serious. Jesus gave us three such comparisons. The first would be would be when Jesus tells the Pharisees, “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” This follows a denunciation of a religious heart that is careful to “tithe mint, dill and cumin, and neglect the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” He compares three tiny herbs, mint, dill and cumin… and the three huge principles, justice, mercy and faith. This is followed by Jesus saying, “You have neglected the very important to deal with a petty legal requirement.”
The second comparison of the gnat and camel comes into effect at this point. The play on words and thoughts is this: both the gnat (“a winged insect”) and the camel (“though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof”) are both considered unclean in Leviticus Law. So the comparison is to say, if the heart is corrupted in a small thing (gnat) it will be corrupted also in a large thing (camel).
The final comparison is the announcement that this kind of thinking produces a “blind guide,” or a worthless spiritual leader. May we also be aware, and be warned, of having a petty self-righteous heart while not caring about justice, mercy and faith.
“You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! Jesus