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Matthew Chapter 15

Memory verses for this week:   Phil 4:11  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 

Introduction: In last week’s lesson, we studied about the death of John the Baptist and the miracles concerning the feeding of the over 5,000 men, women and children with the five loaves and two fishes.   We closed studying about Peter and how he walked on the water when his eyes were fixed upon Jesus Christ. 

I.    Christ Rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees 

Mat 15:1  Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

Mat 15:2  Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

Mat 15:3  But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

These scribes and Pharisees come out from Jerusalem to oppose Christ.   They charge that the disciples of Christ are not washing their hands before they eat.  The washing of hands before a meal was a tradition of the Jews.  They had many traditions concerning washings of various things.   So in reality, what they were being accused of was breaking the ‘traditions’ of the fathers, not sinning against the Lord.   Jesus answers in verse 3 that these were transgressing the commandment of God by their traditions.  Unfortunately, many today are guilty of respecting a tradition of a church more than the Word of God.  If you have a church ruled by some board (like committees or deacon’s boards), you have made the traditions above God’s Word.   The pastor is placed as the leader of the church.

Acts 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Heb 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 

Mat 15:4  For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Mat 15:5  But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

Mat 15:6  And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Jesus calls attention to one of the ten commandments as he answers these accusers.  They were guilty of breaking this commandment by keeping the tradition of the elders.   They were saying that they had given a gift (something vowed to the Lord) rather than helping their parents.   This extra gift was beyond their tithe, and they did it so they could skip helping their parents and have a good conscience towards God.   However, God knows the heart, and the reason we give.  To give an extra gift and think that exempts us from our duties to our parents is wrong and does not honor God.  By doing this, they had made God’s commandment of none effect.   Their gift was not accepted of the Lord due to the condition of the heart.

Col 3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Col 3:24  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Col 3:25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

J. Vernon McGee had a great comment concerning what the Pharisees were doing.


Our Lord is saying that honoring father and mother includes supporting them. The way they got around that responsibility was to dedicate their money as a gift to God, and that would relieve them of supporting their parents. This gave a pious way out for a man to break the Mosaic Law.

I still believe the best way to test a Christian is by his pocketbook. The barometer of the Christian today is how he handles his own money and how he handles God’s money. The religious rulers of Jesus’ day were helping men escape their responsibility.

I am of the opinion that God wants you to pay your honest debts before you give to Him. God wants you to take care of your personal responsibilities. He wants you to support your family before you give to Him. I once knew a man with a wild idea. This man came to me on payday and wanted to give me half his income while his family went hungry. When I found out, we had quite a little talk, and at first he was offended. Finally, he saw that he was neglecting his own family, which is a tragic thing to do. It is amazing how people try to escape a responsibility in a pious way.   .[i] 

Mat 15:7  Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

Mat 15:8  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Mat 15:9  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Jesus cites a prophecy from the book of Isaiah when he says “This people draweth night unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me”. It is sad that many honor God only with their mouth but not with their heart.  God does not want us to be two sided and not continually honor him with our total life.  But it takes a real man or woman to continually live for the Lord like we should.  We can only do this by the Grace of the Lord.  These held their traditions higher than the pure doctrine of God.

Mat 15:10  And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Mat 15:11  Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Jesus declares to the multitude that it is that which comes out of a man that defiles him.   From the heart, we speak.   And our words will sure condemn us if we do not bridle our tongue and seek the Lord in our daily walk.

Mat 15:12  Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

Mat 15:13  But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Mat 15:14  Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

The anger of the Pharisees is reported to Christ by the disciples.   Christ tells them to not worry about the attitude of the Pharisees.   They effectively were blind to the truths of God, and it was the blind leading the blind.   We should stand on the truth of the bible, not in a mean or vicious way, but we should not back down from the truths it proclaims.  Far too many people (and pastors) want to please men more than God.   Our desire should be to honor our Heavenly Father with our speech and our lives.   And that means loving the things God loves, and hating sin.  (not the sinner… but the sin that burdens them down.)

Adam Clarke in his commentary said this about verse 14.

And if the blind lead the blind—This was so self-evident a case that an apter parallel could not be found—if the blind lead the blind, both must fall into the ditch. Alas, for the blind teachers, who not only destroy their own souls, but those also of their flocks! Like priest, like people. If the minister be ignorant, he cannot teach what he does not know; and the people cannot become wise unto salvation under such a ministry—he is ignorant and wicked, and they are profligate. They who even wish such God speed; are partakers of their evil deeds. But shall not the poor deceived people escape? No: both shall fall into the pit of perdition together; for they should have searched the Scriptures, and not trusted to the ignorant sayings of corrupt men, no matter of what sect or party. He who has the Bible in his hand, or within his reach, and can read it, has no excuse. 

Mat 15:15  Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

Mat 15:16  And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

Mat 15:17  Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Mat 15:18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Mat 15:19  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Mat 15:20  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Peter desires to have this ‘parable’ explained.   The master at first rebukes Peter for his lack of spiritual perception, as this teaching was straight and simple.   But he does go into a greater detail about it, and explains how that it is not the things we eat that defile us, but the evil thoughts that proceed out of our heart.   God help us to keep our thoughts and minds pure.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Phil 4:9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.


II. A Canaanite Girl is Healed

Mat 15:21  Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

Mat 15:22  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Mat 15:23  But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

This woman comes to Jesus and make her request known.  She wants God to show mercy on her daughter.   We see that Jesus at first does not answer her a word.   This must have been very hard on the woman, since her desire was pure and she had come to the only one who could truly heal her.    Sometimes when we pray, and don’t receive an answer quickly, it is very unsettling.   But God always answers in time.

Mat 15:24  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Mat 15:25  Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Mat 15:26  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs.

Mat 15:27  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

Jesus declares that He has been sent to the nation of Israel only.   But she tries even harder, and in verse 25 says “Lord help me.”   Jesus declares that it is not right to take what rightfully belonged to the Jews and to give it to the Gentiles.  (Gentiles were looked down on so negatively that they were referred to as dogs in this day.)  But the woman takes her place and begs for just a few crumbs that might fall from the master’s table.

Matthew Henry said this about what Christ said to the woman.

Those whom Christ intends most signally to honour, he first humbles and lays low in a sense of their own meanness and unworthiness. We must first see ourselves to be as dogs, less than the least of all God’s mercies, before we are fit to be dignified and privileged with them. 2. Christ delights to exercise great faith with great trials, and sometimes reserves the sharpest for the last, that, being tried, we may come forth like gold. This general rule is applicable to other cases for direction, though here used only for trial. Special ordinances and church-privileges are children’s bread, and must not be prostituted to the grossly ignorant and profane. Common charity must be extended to all, but spiritual dignities are appropriated to the household of faith; and therefore promiscuous admission to them, without distinction, wastes the children’s bread, and is the giving of that which is holy to the dogs, ch. 7:6.  Here is the strength of her faith and resolution, in breaking through all these discouragements. Many a one, thus tried, would either have sunk into silence, or broken out into passion. "Here is cold comfort,’’ might she have said, "for a poor distressed creature; as good for me to have staid at home, as come hither to be taunted at and abused at this rate; not only to have a piteous case slighted, but to be called a dog!’’ A proud, unhumbled heart would not have borne it. The reputation of the house of Israel was not now so great in the world, but that this slight put upon the Gentiles was capable of being retorted, had the poor woman been so minded. It might have occasioned a reflection upon Christ, and might have been a blemish upon his reputation, as well as a shock to the good opinion, she had entertained of him; for we re apt to judge of persons as we ourselves find them; and think that they are what they are to us. "Is this the Son of David?’’ (might she have said): "Is this he that has such a reputation for kindness, tenderness, and compassion? I am sure I have no reason to give him that character, for I was never treated so roughly in my life; he might have done as much for me as for others; or, if not, he needed not to have set me with the dogs of his flock. I am not a dog, I am a woman, and an honest woman, and a woman in misery; and I am sure it is not meet to call me a dog.’’ No, here is not a word of this. Note, A humble, believing soul, that truly loves Christ, takes every thing in good part that he saith and doeth, and puts the best construction upon it. 


Mat 15:28  Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Jesus is moved by the woman’s great faith, and grants her request and heals her daughter.  I think we learn here that if we don’t get an immediate answer to prayer, to keep on and be very serious about it with God.   We are promised if we pray feverently and consistently, God will answer our prayers.

James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

III. The Multitudes are Healed

Mat 15:29  And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

Mat 15:30  And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

Mat 15:31  Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus was always about doing the work of the Father.  The multitude bring others who are in need to Christ, and he healed them.   The lame were made to walk, the dumb could speak, and the blind were able to see.   All of this was done to honor the Heavenly Father.

John 4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

IV.  The 4,000 Fed

Mat 15:32  Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Mat 15:33  And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

Mat 15:34  And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

Mat 15:35  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

Mat 15:36  And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

Mat 15:37  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

Mat 15:38  And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Mat 15:39  And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of  Magdala.

Jesus had compassion on the multitude that continued with him.   Never think if you stay faithful to the work of the Lord that He does not notice.  God knows who are His, and He takes care for us daily.  They had only 7 loaves and a few fishes, but with the blessing of the Lord, Jesus was able to feed the whole group with seven baskets left over.  Notice the procedure he used for distributing the food to the multitude.

a.  Christ took the loaves and blessed them.

b.  The gave these to the disciples.

c.  The disciples gave to the multitude.


Here is a lesson to us… this is the way the Gospel has been given.   Jesus died to set men free, and he gave the command to preach to the church.   We are to go out and to reach those who are lost that they might hear and be saved.



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[ii]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.