Matthew 15 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 15 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 15

“Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’[

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.”

Matthew 15 Meaning

Matthew 15 is a passage that includes various encounters and teachings of Jesus. It addresses the issue of traditions and the importance of a heart-centered worship. Jesus challenges the religious leaders regarding their adherence to man-made traditions at the expense of God’s commandments. He emphasizes the need for true purity and righteousness that comes from within, rather than external practices. The passage also includes Jesus’ miracles of healing the sick, feeding the multitude, and demonstrating compassion for all.

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Matthew 15 Commentary and Explanation

In Matthew 15, we encounter a series of encounters and teachings by Jesus that reveal profound truths about the nature of faith, tradition, and the heart of true worship. These passages provide us with invaluable insights into the Kingdom of God and challenge us to examine our own beliefs and practices in light of Jesus’ teachings.

The chapter begins with the Pharisees and scribes questioning Jesus about why his disciples transgress the tradition of the elders by not washing their hands before eating. Jesus responds by challenging the religious leaders’ adherence to tradition over the commandments of God. He emphasizes that true defilement comes from within, from the heart, rather than from external practices such as eating with unwashed hands. This assertion echoes the prophet Isaiah’s condemnation of empty rituals (Isaiah 29:13), emphasizing the importance of genuine devotion to God.

Jesus then illustrates his point further through a confrontation with a Canaanite woman who persistently seeks healing for her demon-possessed daughter. Initially, Jesus seems to rebuff her, stating that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. However, the woman’s faith and humility are evident as she persists in her plea, expressing her willingness to accept even the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. Jesus commends her faith and grants her request, highlighting the universality of God’s grace and the importance of unwavering faith (Matthew 15:28).

The subsequent healing miracles performed by Jesus underscore his authority over sickness and disability. These miracles serve as signs of the kingdom, demonstrating Jesus’ power to restore and heal (Matthew 15:30-31). They also foreshadow the ultimate healing and restoration that Jesus brings through his death and resurrection, as well as the healing of the nations described in Revelation (Revelation 22:2).

In the feeding of the four thousand, Jesus once again demonstrates his compassion and ability to provide for the needs of the multitude. This miracle echoes the feeding of the five thousand, emphasizing Jesus’ role as the bread of life (John 6:35). It also serves as a reminder that Jesus is not only concerned with our spiritual needs but also our physical well-being.

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Following this, Jesus warns his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, referring to their teachings and hypocrisy (Matthew 15:12-14). This admonition underscores the importance of discernment and the need to guard against false teachings that can lead us astray (1 John 4:1).

Matthew 15 challenges us to examine our hearts and priorities, reminding us that true worship is not about outward rituals or traditions but about genuine faith and obedience to God’s word. It also encourages us to approach Jesus with persistence and humility, trusting in his power to heal and provide. As we meditate on these teachings, may we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) and live lives that bring glory to God.

Context of Matthew 15

During Jesus’ time, the religious leaders, particularly the Pharisees and scribes, placed great emphasis on adhering to their traditions and rituals. They had developed an extensive system of external rules and regulations to ensure their perceived holiness. However, Jesus constantly challenged their practices and called them to focus on the matters of the heart, on true righteousness and obedience to God’s commandments.

The encounter with the Canaanite woman highlights Jesus’ willingness to extend His grace and healing to those outside of Israel. This incident prepares the way for the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s salvation plan, emphasizing that faith and humility surpass cultural and spiritual barriers.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 15

1. The Pharisees and scribes question Jesus about His disciples not washing their hands before eating (Matthew 15:1-2): The religious leaders were more concerned about following their traditions than understanding the true heart of worship. Jesus uses this opportunity to address the importance of inward purity and the danger of empty rituals.

2. Jesus explains that what defiles a person comes from within (Matthew 15:10-20): Jesus teaches that true defilement comes from evil thoughts and actions that emerge from the heart. This emphasizes the need for inner transformation and a genuine relationship with God.

3. The Canaanite woman’s persistency and faith (Matthew 15:21-28): This woman’s faith and humility impress Jesus, causing Him to grant her request for deliverance. This incident shows that salvation is not limited to a specific group but is available to all who believe and approach God with faith.

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4. Miracles of healing and provision (Matthew 15:29-39): Jesus demonstrates His power and compassion by healing the sick and feeding a multitude with limited resources. These miracles reveal His divine nature and His ability to meet both physical and spiritual needs.

Lessons From Matthew 15

1. True worship and righteousness are matters of the heart: Jesus emphasizes that it is not about external practices or rituals but about the condition of our hearts. We must prioritize a genuine relationship with God and allow His Spirit to transform us from within.

2. Do not prioritize man-made traditions over God’s commandments: We should be careful not to become so focused on outward practices that we neglect obedience to God’s Word. Our desire should always be to honor God and His teachings above all else.

3. Faith in Jesus extends beyond cultural boundaries: The encounter with the Canaanite woman teaches us that Jesus welcomes people from all backgrounds and cultures. It is our faith and humility that matter to Him, not our ethnicity or heritage.

4. Jesus is compassionate and has the power to heal and provide: The miracles performed by Jesus reveal His loving nature and His ability to meet our physical and spiritual needs. We can trust in His provision and seek His healing in all areas of our lives.

Final Thoughts

Matthew 15 presents a powerful message about the importance of genuine worship, inward purity, and faith in Jesus. It challenges us to examine our hearts and priorities, ensuring that we place God and His commandments above man-made traditions. Let us seek to live with a transformed heart, responding to Jesus’ teachings with faith and humility. May we also trust in His compassion and power to provide for our needs, both physically and spiritually.

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