Matthew 15 (The Message)

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1 After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, 2 "Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?" 3 But Jesus put it right back on them. "Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God's commands? 4 God clearly says, 'Respect your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.' 5 But you weasel around that by saying, 'Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I've given to God.' 6 That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God's command by your rules. 7 Frauds! Isaiah's prophecy of you hit the bull's-eye: 8 These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn't in it. 9 They act like they're worshiping me, but they don't mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy." 10 He then called the crowd together and said, "Listen, and take this to heart. 11 It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up." 12 Later his disciples came and told him, "Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?" 13 Jesus shrugged it off. "Every tree that wasn't planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. 14 Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch." 15 Peter said, "I don't get it. Put it in plain language." 16 Jesus replied, "You too? Are you being willfully stupid? 17 Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? 18 But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. 19 It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. 20 That's what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands - that's neither here nor there." Healing the People 21 From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. 22 They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, "Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit." 23 Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, "Now she's bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She's driving us crazy." 24 Jesus refused, telling them, "I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel." 25 Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. "Master, help me." 26 He said, "It's not right to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs." 27 She was quick: "You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table." 28 Jesus gave in. "Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!" Right then her daughter became well. 29 After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. 30 They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute - all sorts of people in need - and more or less threw them down at Jesus' feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them. 31 When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them. 32 But Jesus wasn't finished with them. He called his disciples and said, "I hurt for these people. For three days now they've been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can't send them away without a meal - they'd probably collapse on the road." 33 His disciples said, "But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?" 34 Jesus asked, "How much bread do you have?" 35 At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. 36 He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. 37 Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. 38 Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. 39 After Jesus sent them away, he climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills.
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