Matthew 15; Matthew 16; Matthew 17

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Matthew 15

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem. They asked him,
2 "Why don't your followers obey the unwritten laws which have been handed down to us? They don't wash their hands before they eat."
3 Jesus answered, "And why do you refuse to obey God's command so that you can follow your own teachings?
4 God said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother must be put to death.'
5 But you say a person can tell his father or mother, 'I have something I could use to help you, but I have given it to God already.'
6 You teach that person not to honor his father or his mother. You rejected what God said for the sake of your own rules.
7 You are hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he said about you:
8 'These people show honor to me with words, but their hearts are far from me.
9 Their worship of me is worthless. The things they teach are nothing but human rules.'"
10 After Jesus called the crowd to him, he said, "Listen and understand what I am saying.
11 It is not what people put into their mouths that makes them unclean. It is what comes out of their mouths that makes them unclean."
12 Then his followers came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees are angry because of what you said?"
13 Jesus answered, "Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted himself will be pulled up by the roots.
14 Stay away from the Pharisees; they are blind leaders. And if a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a ditch."
15 Peter said, "Explain the example to us."
16 Jesus said, "Do you still not understand?
17 Surely you know that all the food that enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then goes out of the body.
18 But what people say with their mouths comes from the way they think; these are the things that make people unclean.
19 Out of the mind come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, and speaking evil of others.
20 These things make people unclean; eating with unwashed hands does not make them unclean."
21 Jesus left that place and went to the area of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from that area came to Jesus and cried out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter has a demon, and she is suffering very much."
23 But Jesus did not answer the woman. So his followers came to Jesus and begged him, "Tell the woman to go away. She is following us and shouting."
24 Jesus answered, "God sent me only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel."
25 Then the woman came to Jesus again and bowed before him and said, "Lord, help me!"
26 Jesus answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs."
27 The woman said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! I will do what you asked." And at that moment the woman's daughter was healed.
29 After leaving there, Jesus went along the shore of Lake Galilee. He went up on a hill and sat there.
30 Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, those who could not speak, and many others. They put them at Jesus' feet, and he healed them.
31 The crowd was amazed when they saw that people who could not speak before were now able to speak. The crippled were made strong. The lame could walk, and the blind could see. And they praised the God of Israel for this.
32 Jesus called his followers to him and said, "I feel sorry for these people, because they have already been with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry. They might faint while going home."
33 His followers asked him, "How can we get enough bread to feed all these people? We are far away from any town."
34 Jesus asked, "How many loaves of bread do you have?" They answered, "Seven, and a few small fish."
35 Jesus told the people to sit on the ground.
36 He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish and gave thanks to God. Then he divided the food and gave it to his followers, and they gave it to the people.
37 All the people ate and were satisfied. Then his followers filled seven baskets with the leftover pieces of food.
38 There were about four thousand men there who ate, besides women and children.
39 After sending the people home, Jesus got into the boat and went to the area of Magadan.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Matthew 16

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus, wanting to trick him. So they asked him to show them a miracle from God.
2 Jesus answered, "At sunset you say we will have good weather, because the sky is red.
3 And in the morning you say that it will be a rainy day, because the sky is dark and red. You see these signs in the sky and know what they mean. In the same way, you see the things that I am doing now, but you don't know their meaning.
4 Evil and sinful people ask for a miracle as a sign, but they will not be given any sign, except the sign of Jonah." Then Jesus left them and went away.
5 Jesus' followers went across the lake, but they had forgotten to bring bread.
6 Jesus said to them, "Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Phari- sees and the Sadducees."
7 His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, "He said this because we forgot to bring bread."
8 Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, "Why are you talking about not having bread? Your faith is small.
9 Do you still not understand? Remember the five loaves of bread that fed the five thousand? And remember that you filled many baskets with the leftovers?
10 Or the seven loaves of bread that fed the four thousand and the many baskets you filled then also?
11 I was not talking to you about bread. Why don't you understand that? I am telling you to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."
12 Then the followers understood that Jesus was not telling them to beware of the yeast used in bread but to beware of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his followers, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14 They answered, "Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and still others say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 Then Jesus asked them, "And who do you say I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus answered, "You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am.
18 So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don't allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows."
20 Then Jesus warned his followers not to tell anyone he was the Christ.
21 From that time on Jesus began telling his followers that he must go to Jerusalem, where the older Jewish leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law would make him suffer many things. He told them he must be killed and then be raised from the dead on the third day.
22 Peter took Jesus aside and told him not to talk like that. He said, "God save you from those things, Lord! Those things will never happen to you!"
23 Then Jesus said to Peter, "Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don't care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important."
24 Then Jesus said to his followers, "If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.
25 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life, and those who give up their lives for me will have true life.
26 It is worth nothing for them to have the whole world if they lose their souls. They could never pay enough to buy back their souls.
27 The Son of Man will come again with his Father's glory and with his angels. At that time, he will reward them for what they have done.
28 I tell you the truth, some people standing here will see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom before they die."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Matthew 17

1 Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, up on a high mountain by themselves.
2 While they watched, Jesus' appearance was changed; his face became bright like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
3 Then Moses and Elijahn appeared to them, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you want, I will put up three tents here -- one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
5 While Peter was talking, a bright cloud covered them. A voice came from the cloud and said, "This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!"
6 When his followers heard the voice, they were so frightened they fell to the ground.
7 But Jesus went to them and touched them and said, "Stand up. Don't be afraid."
8 When they looked up, they saw Jesus was now alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone about what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10 Then his followers asked him, "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"
11 Jesus answered, "They are right to say that Elijah is coming and that he will make everything the way it should be.
12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him. They did to him whatever they wanted to do. It will be the same with the Son of Man; those same people will make the Son of Man suffer."
13 Then the followers understood that Jesus was talking about John the Baptist.
14 When Jesus and his followers came back to the crowd, a man came to Jesus and bowed before him.
15 The man said, "Lord, have mercy on my son. He has epilepsyn and is suffering very much, because he often falls into the fire or into the water.
16 I brought him to your followers, but they could not cure him."
17 Jesus answered, "You people have no faith, and your lives are all wrong. How long must I put up with you? How long must I continue to be patient with you? Bring the boy here."
18 Jesus commanded the demon inside the boy. Then the demon came out, and the boy was healed from that time on.
19 The followers came to Jesus when he was alone and asked, "Why couldn't we force the demon out?"
20 Jesus answered, "Because your faith is too small. I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. All things will be possible for you."
22 While Jesus' followers were gathering in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man will be handed over to people,
23 and they will kill him. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead." And the followers were filled with sadness.
24 When Jesus and his followers came to Capernaum, the men who collected the Temple tax came to Peter. They asked, "Does your teacher pay the Temple tax?"
25 Peter answered, "Yes, Jesus pays the tax." Peter went into the house, but before he could speak, Jesus said to him, "What do you think? The kings of the earth collect different kinds of taxes. But who pays the taxes -- the king's children or others?"
26 Peter answered, "Other people pay the taxes." Jesus said to Peter, "Then the children of the king don't have to pay taxes.
27 But we don't want to upset these tax collectors. So go to the lake and fish. After you catch the first fish, open its mouth and you will find a coin. Take that coin and give it to the tax collectors for you and me."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.