1. Introduction to Chapter 15, which I have titled “wash hands.”
    • In chapter 15 Jesus has a run in with Pharisees who complain that his disciples do not observe the Pharisaic observances (1-20), then meets a Canaanite woman who showed great faith in him (21-28), and then Jesus went to a mountain near the Sea of Galilee and over a three day period healed many and then on the last day he fed the 4000 men plus women and children (29-39).
    • From this chapter we see legalistic and non grace people doing what they do so well—criticize God’s gracious plan and grace people.
    • We also learn of a Canaanite woman with strong faith and Jesus’ gracious response to her. She would not take “no” for an answer from Jesus.
    • When Jesus went to a mountain, he again demonstrated who he was and how he ministered to people. Who could miss his clear deity along with his grace and compassion?
  2. The Pharisees attack Jesus over a picky man-made tradition (1-20). Note that they actually call it a tradition in verse two.
    • Verse one tells us that these Pharisees came from Jerusalem. The accusation is in verse two. The Pharisees did not directly accuse Jesus. They got to him by accusing his disciples. The charge was that the disciples failed to wash their hands. Mark 7 also records this event. Jesus will turn the tables on them by showing that they actually do disobey God’s word by the way they protect their money so they do not have to spend it on their parents. Here the Pharisees follow another unbiblical tradition.
    • What did the Bible say about this? Exodus 30:17-21 is the law directed to priests who ministry in the tabernacle. They are to wash their hands and feet first. What the Pharisees claim to be the proper activity is only from tradition and oral tradition at that. They claim to be serving God and honoring him, but in reality they are being selfish. Jesus points this out in verses 3-8.
    • The Pharisees go to a tradition called corban (Matthew 15:5-6; Mark 7:11) that allows anything promised to be reserved for religious purposes was protected and could not be used for other purposes or passed on to their parents. This was their way of getting out of providing for their parents. The Pharisees claimed that by this they were honoring God. They pitted commandment one (Exodus 20:3) against commandment five (Exodus 20:12 and 21:17). In reality they were not honoring God or keeping commandment one. And, they were breaking commandment five. This was a serious breech of God’s word.
    • The Pharisees also violated Jesus’ summary of the law recorded in Matthew 22:37-40—the entire law can be summed up by properly loving God and one’s neighbor.
    • Jesus quotes Isaiah (Matthew 15:7-9). Isaiah even taught about the hypocrisy of the Israelites 700 years before this (Isaiah 29:13). This is ritual with no reality. This is religion, not God’s plan. This is human doctrine altered so that it appears to be Bible doctrine, but it is not.
      • The Pharisees and scribes are saying one thing and thinking and doing another. They are hypocrites. A hypocrite is two people. He is the person that others see and he is the person he really is inside.
      • Hypocrite goes back in ancient Greek and meant an actor. The actor played someone other than himself. Then the hypocrite intentionally tried to deceive someone.
      • The Pharisees and scribes teach human doctrines and calls them God’s doctrines. What they say does not match reality.
      • We may often say or act in ways to cover up what we actually think and believe.
      • Matthew 7:5 and Luke 6:42 say a hypocrite is also one who criticizes another person when the critic has his own faults.
      • Matthew 23:287-28 is a strong condemnation against hypocrites.
      • Galatians 2:13 illustrates legalistic hypocrisy.
      • First Timothy 4:2 says that people will fall away from the faith. They will say one thing and believe another. That is lying based in hypocrisy.
      • James 3:17 and 1 Peter 2:1 instructs believers to put off hypocrisy. God’s wisdom does not produce hypocrisy.
    • In Matthew 15:10-14 Jesus calls the crowd to hear him and to understand what he has to say. Jesus narrows his warning and instruction about hypocrisy and false teaching to the immediate context of the Pharisees and scribes. In order to think right and to act right, mankind must first hear the truth about how (thinking process) and what (content) to think. After hearing, mankind must understand the truth, and then make the normal application.
      • Matthew 15:12 relates the disciples’ question and Jesus answer. According to Mark 7:17, this explanation of the failure of the Pharisees took place after the confrontation and in a private house. Jesus simply taught a biblical truth that explained the situation they were in. Jesus popped the Pharisees’ balloon.
      • The Pharisees were not living or teaching what God the Father revealed. As a result they and their teaching will fail (Matthew 15:13). Jesus says to let them go their way. They and their followers will fail (Matthew 15:14).
        • Non biblical religious people lead their followers into a pit—whether of Judaism without Christ, Islam, New Age, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other religions including the cults that have branched off of Christianity. They all lead to a bottomless pit.
        • An aside: all deviations of God’s revelation that he gave to Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham and so on are wrong. In fact, if you trace the Old Testament history, you will see that by the time of Noah rejection of God’s revelation was so rampant that God destroyed the human race except for Noah and his family. Then after they left the ark their descendents began to depart from the truth so that by the time of Babel there was mass rejection of God and mass counterfeiting of God’s revelation.
    • Jesus makes both doctrinal principles and an application when he responds to Peter’s request to explain what he has just said (14-20). In doing so, Jesus makes it clear that he is the true interpreter of Scripture, not the Pharisees. This became another reason that the religious leadership wanted him dead.
      • The doctrinal principles:
        • The heart of man is sinful. In other terms, every human being is born with a sinful nature.
        • Jesus is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture.
        • Religious organizations, denominations, and leadership often become more occupied with external activity than with the heart—the thinking. This affected Judaism and has affected the church throughout history.
        • The inner person is more important than the outer person. The outer will follow the inner. Therefore, God trains the inner person with his word.
      • The application is that mental sins, verbal sins, and action sins defile mankind, not the food we eat.
      • Jesus makes it clear that mental sins and verbal sins, here evidence of hypocrisy, are worse than eating with unwashed hands or eating food that is a little dirty (Matthew 15:20). Recall that Jesus said, “not what enters the mouth…but what goes out of the mouth (15:11).” Verbal sins go out of the mouth. This was a direct statement of the Pharisees’ actions. Mental sins produce verbal sins and action sins. The Pharisees were more interested in their food rules than in the correct understanding and application of the Bible. See Matthew 12:34-35.
        • Defile is the Greek word koinow (present active indicative, third singular). It means to defile, to pollute, to make common.
      • Jesus gave an illustrative list of some of what comes from the heart (heart is the center of man’s soul and spirit): evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
  3. Jesus, in verses 21-28, responds to the faith of a Canaanite (Gentile) woman. Her daughter was demon possessed. In this section we also see that the kingdom Jesus offered was for Israel, not Gentiles. The woman also recognized this, but appealed to Jesus by her understanding of the Messianic message and by her faith.
    • Tyre and Sidon are northwest of the Sea of Galilee and on the Mediterranean coast. They are in what was known as the Phoenician area. Phoenicians were a maritime trading people who lived in the Mediterranean area and flourished around 1200-900 BC. They apparently lived north of ancient Canaan in what is now Lebanon. Sarepta, Tyre, and Sidon were important cities. They spoke Phoenician, which is a Canaanite language in the Semitic family of languages.
    • The lady had no right to claim anything from Jesus. She was of the cursed family—Canaanites (Deuteronomy 20:17).
    • She appealed to Jesus as Lord and Son of David (Matthew 15:22 and 25). Those titles are very telling about her understanding and her faith, though she was a Canaanite. The disciples wanted to send her away, but her understanding of the Jew’s Messiah—however limited—brought a response from Jesus. Children in verse 26 refer to Israel and dogs in verse 27 refer to Gentiles. She was quite happy to get the “leftovers” from Jesus.
    • Her responses to Jesus were responses out of faith. Jesus responded to her faith by commending her and by healing her daughter (Matthew 15:28).
    • This is similar to the time Jesus met the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).
  4. The last section of Matthew 15 finds Jesus back near the Sea of Galilee, but on a mountain side. He heals the people of their illnesses and feeds them (Matthew 15:29-39).
    • Jesus healed the people of many illnesses (Matthew 15:30-31).
    • The people glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:31). They saw his omnipotence and sovereignty at work. Their response was “they gloried the God of Israel.”  The people responded to the revelation of God by glorifying God.
    • We see another attribute of Jesus in verse 32. He was compassionate on the crowd of people. They had been with him for three days and had no food.
      • Jesus wanted to feed them. Compassion results in action.
      • The disciples acted like most of us do in situations that test our faith application of God’s word. They could not imagine where they would get the food for this undertaking. That is human viewpoint talking. They had already seen Jesus heal many people. Previously they had seen him feed 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:14-21). We are all slow learners.
      • The solution to this unsolvable crisis was to obey Jesus. He will do what he wants to do in this crisis. Here he miraculously multiplied the 7 loaves and a few fish into enough to feed all the people and have food left over. This was a miracle. The divine nature of Jesus reveals to the disciples what he is like. We can only hope they will soon learn to trust him and to glorify him.
    • How long does it take us to lean to trust God and to glorify him for whatever action he takes?
  5. Some lessons and so whats from Matthew 15.
    • Scripture is more important than religious tradition (Matthew 15:3-6). What is most important to us? Would we be satisfied with a ritual a week and no Bible doctrine?
    • Hypocrisy is wrong. It is concern with an image one projects to others instead of doing the right thing. What image do we try to present? It is real and is it godly (Matthew 15:7)?
    • Ritual has a limited and defined purpose—to teach, to bring to remembrance, to illustrate God’s truth (Matthew 15:7-9). How do we relate to the two rituals of the church? Do they teach us? Do they bring biblical truth to mind? Do they illustrate the foundational truths of Scripture?
    • The heart of mankind—in context our sinful nature—is the source of sin. Sin comes from within mankind since the fall (Matthew 15:18-20). Does the Holy Spirit control us or does the sinful nature control us? Or maybe we turn things around and emphasize a traditional religious activity instead of God’s righteousness.
    • The kingdom message was directed to Israel. God promised them a kingdom, and Jesus came to offer that kingdom to Israel (Matthew 15:22 and 24). Do we understand Israel’s place in God’s plan and do we adjust to that plan?
    • Jesus values faith. He rewards those who believe him (Matthew 15:27-28). This is an amazing truth. God wants us to believe him in every circumstance. How are we doing?
    • Miracles caused people to glorify Israel’s God (Matthew 15:30-31). When we see God work, do we glorify him? This is the purpose of life—to glorify God.
    • Jesus was compassionate to people who watched him and listened to him for such a long time. He fed them (Matthew 15:32). Are we concerned about the people around us? The first point of concern is for their eternal salvation and then for their spiritual growth. Then we can help our neighbor in his time of need. How do we grade ourselves in compassion?
    • Jesus did works that only God can do. He fed the crowd of 5000 men plus women and children, and he fed them by multiplying 7 loaves of bread and a few fish (Matthew 15:34-39).  He is God. We ought to worship and obey him. When God does something in our lives, what is our response? Do we even recognize what he has done? Do we thank him? Do we honestly glorify him?
    • From Jesus’ teaching we receive God’s revelation. In context we learn about hypocrisy, ritual, what is sin, where sin comes from, the Old Testament promised Messianic kingdom, the place of Israel in God’s plan, faith, and God’s response to faith. From Jesus’ works we learn about God’s nature. In context God is omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign, and compassionate. And then we see man’s response to seeing what Jesus was doing—they glorified the God of Israel. How do we grade ourselves in view of God, his revelation, and our purpose of glorifying God?