One day the scribes and Pharisees approached Jesus about an alleged bad habit the disciples had. They asked Him, "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread" (Matthew 15:2). Context is needed to understand the question. The Pharisees and Scribes had a ceremonial washing of hands. This custom, although derived from scripture, was not scriptural. It was something the Jewish Rabbi's had established.
The fact that Jesus did not answer their question does not say that washing of hands is not needed. Jesus made a point that the Jews put more stock on the doctrines of men, than the Word of God (Matthew 15:9). To make the point Jesus told them that there practice of Corban was unbiblical. What is Corban? Jesus elaborated in Matthew 15: 3 – 6,
Mat15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mat15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
Mat15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
Mat15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
The Jews were basically saying to their parents "What you have done for me was a gift, I owe you nothing." This implied that if the Jews came into some money they felt no obligation to give any to their parents. They felt they were freed from caring for their parents. Christ was very critical of this practice. He said to the Jews,
Matthew 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Jonathan stands in a great contrast to this practice. Jonathan found a way to be loyal to both his dear friend David and his father: even, when Jonathan's father, Saul, hated David to death, literally. Jonathan was not oblivious to his father's sinful ways. Jonathan seemed to have followed how we interpret Paul's advice to the Romans about the government, "as long as they do not go against the law of God, submit to them." When Saul insisted in wanting to kill David, Jonathan tried to appease his father. The scripture records one such moment in 1 Samuel 19,
1 Samuel 19:4 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good:
1 Samuel 19:5 For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?
1 Samuel 19:6 And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.
Jonathan could have chosen to leave his father the King and go with David; but he did not. Jonathan could have disrespected his father by raising his voice and speaking badly to him. Jonathan was respectful and loving toward Saul. He is an example to this generation of Christ likeness. Jonathan is an example that in Christ we can overcome cultivated and inherited tendencies. Ellen White says of Joshua,
"On the record of those who through self-abnegation have entered into the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, stand[s] … Jonathan … [He], by birth heir to the throne, yet knowing himself set aside by the divine decree; to his rival the most tender and faithful of friends, shielding David's life at the peril of his own; steadfast at his father's side through the dark days of his declining power, and at his side falling at the last—the name of Jonathan is treasured in heaven, and it stands on earth a witness to the existence and the power of unselfish love…" Ellen G. White, Education, pp. 156, 157.
I pray we heed Jonathan's example.