Gospel of Matthew Chapter Fifteen Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
He Is Here For You
Verses 1-2: "Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 'Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.'" Do you love the Lord? Have you placed your faith in Him? If so, you are being watched by other people, studied actually, and there are those who dislike the Lord so much that they might harm you if they could. But don't worry; just as Jesus was looking steadily at those Jewish leaders in that moment, Almighty God is looking steadily at anyone who would hurt us. He loves you, and is your Protector. The subject here is about a ritualistic washing of hands and utensils. It was an outward custom; whereas God's intention for us is much deeper—we are to TRUST in the Lord.
Verses 3-6: "And He answered and said to them,'Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.' 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,' 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.'" The Jewish leaders had developed a system in which men could dedicate money or goods to the Temple, instead of using it to provide for elderly parents. There are two great witnesses here in this world for each one of us: God's written Word, which we call the "Bible," and God's Holy Spirit, who is with and in those who have placed their faith in the Lord. The Bible, studied prayerfully, will bring you to the Lord, as in Romans 10:17—"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." We are to continue studying God's Word as we travel through life, and we are never alone because of God's Holy Spirit—"The Helper, the Holy Spirit... He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). Don't be bound by the mere commandments of men. Instead, joyfully read His Word, and listen to that still, small voice in your heart, with words that come from God.
Verses 7-11: "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them,'Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.'" Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13, also calling the Pharisees and scribes "hypocrites" to their faces. It's important to live clean lives, to learn from God and treat other people well. But it's also important to avoid teaching the commandments of men as though they came from God. Let your words come out of a heart filled with God's Holy Word, as interpreted by His Holy Spirit. More than following the Lord outwardly—let your heart—and your words—be His.
Verses 12-14: "Then the disciples came and said to Him, 'Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?' 13 But He answered and said,'Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.'" By trusting in the Lord, you're not going to please everybody. In fact, you'll likely offend quite a few people. There are angry atheists in the world, and also many who don't have faith in the Lord because they prefer mere religion. The words of Jesus caused His disciples to become worried for their own safety, and you can almost see them looking nervously over their shoulders as they spoke. And by the way, it's not necessarily our assignment to attack those who claim to represent the Lord, but don't. They'll fall "into a pit" all by themselves. In His time, God will uproot them.
Verses 15-20: "Peter said to Him, 'Explain the parable to us.' 16 Jesus said,'Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.'" I'm glad Peter asked this question, and Jesus answered with another question, which is also addressed to us: "Are you still lacking in understanding?" The answer is YES; otherwise we would be perfect in understanding (but we are not). To demonstrate this, we only need to ask ourselves questions based on Verse 19: Do you ever have evil thoughts? Have you ever had angry, murderous thoughts? Are you ever drawn to illicit sex or pornography? Have you wanted something that isn't yours? Have you gossiped, speaking words about someone that might or might not be true? Answering those questions is a start to recognizing that real life is more than just outward ritualistic behavior.
Verses 21-28: "Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, 'Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.' 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, 'Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.' 24 But He answered and said,'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, 'Lord, help me!' 26 And He answered and said,'It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.' 27 But she said, 'Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.' 28 Then Jesus said to her,'O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.'And her daughter was healed at once." Tyre and Sidon were ancient Phoenician cities on the coastal plain north and west of Galilee, on the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians occupied that area long before Israel invaded the land. Notice, by the way, that the disciples had no solution for her problem and were annoyed by her. A question here for us all is: Does God ever seem to NOT hear or answer your earnest prayer? Does He seem to value you LESS than somebody else? The faith of this Gentile woman was to reverberate through the centuries, to be seen and understood today. Jesus, who KNEW the faith of this lady, and knew in advance the outcome of these events, seemingly ignored and scorned her so WE would see the extent of her faith. And her daughter was healed. Keep on praying—He's not deaf—He hears you.
Verse 29-31: "Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there. 30 And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. 31 So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel." There's no end to our needs. I spent 5-years in a wheelchair and remember how it felt. We are surrounded by the lame, crippled, blind, mute and so many more. It seems like every time medical science finds a treatment for a disease, five more diseases enter the world. Note that God can heal the so-called "disabled" at any time. Has it occurred to you that if someone is NOT healed, there is a reason? Quite often the outward problem indicates a cause we may not know about. In Amos 4:6-13, their troubles were due to a need for national repentance. Here in the eye-witness testimony of these verses, we are to see that God can and will heal, and glorify Him.
Verses 32-33: "And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said,'I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.' 33 The disciples said to Him, 'Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?'" Notice the contrast in responses here... Jesus, who is God, but also was a man, felt compassion for the people's need and intended to do something about it. The disciples, who were just guys, didn't pray, and apparently lacked compassion because of a fear of personal embarrassment—they didn't know how to do what they were led by Jesus to do. Do you ever feel like that? You know what God wants, but you're upset—you simply don't know how to do it and hope nobody notices... It's time to pray.
Verses 34-39: "And Jesus said to them,'How many loaves do you have?'And they said, 'Seven, and a few small fish.' 35 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; 36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. 38 And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And sending away the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan." It's not like the disciples hadn't experienced this before—In Matthew 14:13-21, in similar circumstances, Jesus caused "five thousand men," along with women and children to be fed... An amazing number of needs were met, and here it is again—this time "four thousand" plus. How many times, in our lives, do we have to learn the lesson that God can and will provide for our needs? Have you noticed very similar circumstances playing out in life more than once? Each of us is to finally see that God is in charge. And now, off they went to another point on the Sea of Galilee. And note that God the Son limited Himself to one small area of the world, whereas now, He is everywhere, with each one of us, in every time and place, dealing individually with our needs. Isn't He wonderful? He Is Here For You.
Father, I see that You can heal and meet every need. I have been afraid, Lord, and I confess that I still am. But I have also decided to trust in Jesus Christ. I am Yours, Lord. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.