Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who judges the Judges?

Mar 7:5 So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, "Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?"
………..Mar 7:9 And Jesus continued, "You have a clever way of rejecting God's law in order to uphold your own teaching.

Jesus is in Galilee…. which was a religious state. So the leaders of the temple were responsible for teaching the law, and they were responsible for judging those who broke the law.

Today’s passage tells of a moment when Jesus is criticised by the Pharisees because his disciples had not washed their hands in the required manner before and after eating. This issue about hand washing was not about hygiene. Everyone washed their hands before eating: The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, and the Jews…. The issue here is that the Pharisees had invented elaborate ceremonial religious teachings around this common practice. And the Pharisees warned the people that if they did not do it exactly right, then God would be angry. (A Talmudic teaching from this time has been discovered that says that if people do not wash their hands before a meal then God would either destroy that person, or reduce them to poverty)

But this was not a command of God! The Ten Commandments do not command hand washing. The Torah does not command handwashing.
The Pharisees wanted the ostentatious ceremonial handwashing – because it made them seem superior to everyone else who did not wash their hands in that way.

So Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was angry at how God blessings and curses had been dragged into the issue of social standing. It is for this reason that Jesus warns the Pharisees:
Mar 7:9 …….. "You have a clever way of rejecting God's law in order to uphold your own teaching.
Here are Judges who lack the love of God because they are corrupted, biased, and motivated by self-interest.

Certainly at a national level I find the words of Jesus absolutely appropriate: Judge John Hlophe, the Judge-President for the Western Cape, has been accused by the judges of the constitutional court of trying to interfere in a case they were hearing. This case involved a company called Thint, and the then ANC President - Jacob Zuma, and whether they were in a corrupt relationship when an arms deal was signed. The Constitutional Court accused Jodge Hlophe of attempting to lobby two of its judges for pro-President Jacob Zuma rulings.
The first attempt by the Judicial Services Commission at holding a hearing was stifled because Judge Hlope was sick. They then re-convened to discover that he had fired his lawyer, and so another postponement. Just before the next sitting of the JSC, the President changed the members of the panel. And lo and behold, they met and have decided that Judge Hlophe has done nothing wrong.
My dilemma is this:
Who was lying? Were Justice Bess Nkabinde and Acting Justice Chris Jafta lying when they laid the complaint….. or Judge Hlope, who denied the accusation they made against him? We do not know because this gap in testimony was not interrogated.

I believe that our Judges are human beings – like anyone else.
They are subject to personal bias, and prejudice, and social pressure. I believe that all of these have come into play in the decision not to proceed with this investigation. And for this reason our Judges need to remember that there is a greater law over them: this is the law of God. They will be held accountable for their decisions.

I am asking you to pray for our Judges.


Unknown said...

If you're worried about your kids utilizing proper handwashing techniques, I know of a program that helps make it all more fun! My daughter learned this great program called Germy Wormy Germ Smart at her pre-school. It teaches kids to understand how germs spread and how to NOT spread them. It was so much fun for her, and amazing how quickly the kids learned healthier hygiene habits! The website speaks for itself:

Wessel Bentley said...

Hi Pete

What you write is so true! The human element of judges is seldom seen. Bess Nkabinde and Dikgang Moseneke are members of our congregation. They have been through a terrible time these last few months.

And so, as the local church we have prayed for them, as we have for all judges, to be guided my God's wisdom and righteousness.