Matthew 15

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.

Matthew 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

Jesus discourses about human traditions. (1-9) He warns against things which really defile. (10-20) He heals the daughter of a Syrophenician woman. (21-28) Jesus heals the sick, and miraculously feeds four thousand. (29-39)

Verses 1-9 Additions to God's laws reflect upon his wisdom, as if he had left out something which was needed, and which man could supply; in one way or other they always lead men to disobey God. How thankful ought we to be for the written word of God! Never let us think that the religion of the Bible can be improved by any human addition, either in doctrine or practice. Our blessed Lord spoke of their traditions as inventions of their own, and pointed out one instance in which this was very clear, that of their transgressing the fifth commandment. When a parent's wants called for assistance, they pleaded, that they had devoted to the temple all they could spare, even though they did not part with it, and therefore their parents must expect nothing from them. This was making the command of God of no effect. The doom of hypocrites is put in a little compass; "In vain do they worship me." It will neither please God, nor profit themselves; they trust in vanity, and vanity will be their recompence.

Verses 10-20 Christ shows that the defilement they ought to fear, was not from what entered their mouths as food, but from what came out of their mouths, which showed the wickedness of their hearts. Nothing will last in the soul but the regenerating graces of the Holy Spirit; and nothing should be admitted into the church but what is from above; therefore, whoever is offended by a plain, seasonable declaration of the truth, we should not be troubled at it. The disciples ask to be better taught as to this matter. Where a weak head doubts concerning any word of Christ, an upright heart and a willing mind seek for instruction. It is the heart that is desperately wicked, Jer. 17:9 , for there is no sin in word or deed, which was not first in the heart. They all come out of the man, and are fruits of that wickedness which is in the heart, and is wrought there. When Christ teaches, he will show men the deceitfulness and wickedness of their own hearts; he will teach them to humble themselves, and to seek to be cleansed in the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

Verses 21-28 The dark corners of the country, the most remote, shall share Christ's influences; afterwards the ends of the earth shall see his salvation. The distress and trouble of her family brought a woman to Christ; and though it is need that drives us to Christ, yet we shall not therefore be driven from him. She did not limit Christ to any particular instance of mercy, but mercy, mercy, is what she begged for: she pleads not merit, but depends upon mercy. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and to be earnest in prayer for them, especially for their souls. Have you a son, a daughter, grievously vexed with a proud devil, an unclean devil, a malicious devil, led captive by him at his will? this is a case more deplorable than that of bodily possession, and you must bring them by faith and prayer to Christ, who alone is able to heal them. Many methods of Christ's providence, especially of his grace, in dealing with his people, which are dark and perplexing, may be explained by this story, which teaches that there may be love in Christ's heart while there are frowns in his face; and it encourages us, though he seems ready to slay us, yet to trust in him. Those whom Christ intends most to honour, he humbles to feel their own unworthiness. A proud, unhumbled heart would not have borne this; but she turned it into an argument to support her request. The state of this woman is an emblem of the state of a sinner, deeply conscious of the misery of his soul. The least of Christ is precious to a believer, even the very crumbs of the Bread of life. Of all graces, faith honours Christ most; therefore of all graces Christ honours faith most. He cured her daughter. He spake, and it was done. From hence let such as seek help from the Lord, and receive no gracious answer, learn to turn even their unworthiness and discouragements into pleas for mercy.

Verses 29-39 Whatever our case is, the only way to find ease and relief, is to lay it at Christ's feet, to submit it to him, and refer it to his disposal. Those who would have spiritual healing from Christ, must be ruled as he pleases. See what work sin has made; what various diseases human bodies are subject to. Here were such diseases as fancy could neither guess the cause nor the cure of, yet these were subject to the command of Christ. The spiritual cures that Christ works are wonderful. When blind souls are made to see by faith, the dumb to speak in prayer, the maimed and the lame to walk in holy obedience, it is to be wondered at. His power was also shown to the multitude, in the plentiful provision he made for them: the manner is much the same as before. All did eat, and were filled. Those whom Christ feeds, he fills. With Christ there is bread enough, and to spare; supplies of grace for more than seek it, and for those that seek for more. Christ sent away the people. Though he had fed them twice, they must not look for miracles to find their daily bread. Let them go home to their callings and their own tables. Lord, increase our faith, and pardon our unbelief, teaching us to live upon thy fulness and bounty, for all things pertaining to this life, and that which is to come.

Matthew 15 Commentaries