HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
In this chapter, we have the Lord Jesus, as the Great Prophet teaching; as the Great Physician healing; and as the Great Shepherd of the sheep feeding, and as the Father of Spirits (Heb.12:9) instructing them; and as the Conqueror of Satan dispossessing his presence from them. He is sincerely concerned for the bodies of His people, providing for them, and more concerned for the souls of His people.
Jesus denounces scribes and Pharisees; rebukes His disciples; heals the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman and many in the multitude; He feeds the four thousand.
This chapter continues the movement of the King. He is now beginning to move toward the Cross. We have already seen His rejection and conflict with the religious rulers, this chapter continues in the advances of the ministry of Jesus to the breaking point with the scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus is preparing for the establishment of His church and its teaching authority that will replace the blind guidance of the Pharisees (Mat.15:13-14). Their teaching, oddly enough, is said to be that of the Sadducees also, and is rejected by Jesus for His apostles. When the Pharisees accuse the apostles of eating with unwashed hands, the Lord Jesus is quick to answer, and convicts them of gross hypocrisy. He teaches the people and the apostles just what it is that causes people to be unclean.
He heals the daughter of a Canaanitish woman, and heals many diseased people on the mountain of Galilee. With seven loaves, and a few small fish, He feeds 4,000 men, besides women and children. After He dismisses the multitudes, He comes to the coast of Magdala.
Jesus Denounces The Scribes And Pharisees (Matthew 15:1-20)
Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, (KJV)
Then came to Jesus Scribes and Pharisees . . . after He had done so many miracles, especially that of feeding five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, His fame had reached Jerusalem, and there was much talk there about Him. The Scribes and Pharisees, who were His confirmed enemies, hearing where He was, came to Him. They wanted to know the truth of these things, to speak with Him, and to watch and observe all that He said and did.
Which were of Jerusalem, saying . . . there were Scribes and Pharisees all through the land, but those of Jerusalem were the chief ones, having greater learning and abilities, and were experts in their religion and customs. They were either sent by the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem, or came of themselves; ready to use their power and authority to advise, correct, direct and examine.
Matthew 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (KJV)
Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?. . . the word elders means old men. Here it means the ancients, or the Jews' ancestors. Tradition means something handed down from one to another by memory: some precept or custom NOT commanded in the written law, but one which they felt bound to observe.
For they wash not their hands when they eat bread . . . the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not (Mk.7:3). Mark has also written that this custom of washing extended not just to their hands before eating, but when coming from the market; and also to pots, cups and brazen vessels and tables (Mk.7:3-4), mainly for the sake of cleanliness. But they made it a custom. It really was superstition. They considered external purity as much more important than the purity of the heart. They had many ridiculous rules about it: such as the amount of water that was to be used; the way in which it should be applied; the number of times it should be changed; the number of those that might wash at a time, etc. These rules our Saviour did not think it proper to observe; and this was the reason why they found fault with Him.
Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (KJV)
But he answered and said unto them . . . it seems He considered the tradition about eating bread without washing the hands, as being a human tradition, of no importance, whether it was broken or kept; He makes a just accusation, by putting another question to them,
Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? . . . they accused Jesus of violating their traditions, as though these traditions were mandatory. In His answer He implied that they were NOT bound to obey their traditions that were invented by men. He also said that those traditions could not be binding, because they violated the commandments of God (Col.2:8,23; Tit.1:14). He proceeds to bring up a case where their tradition made void one of the plain laws of God.
Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. (KJV)
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother . . . that is in the fifth commandment (Ex.20:12; deut.5:16). To honour is to obey, to reverence, to speak kindly to, to speak and think well of.
And he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death . . . to curse is to disobey, to treat with irreverence, to swear at, to speak ill of, to think evil of in the heart, to meditate or do any evil to a parent (Ex.21:17; Lev.20:9). All this is included in cursing your father and mother. Let him die the death . . . this is a Hebrew phrase, the same as saying, let him surely die, temporal and eternal. This is a positive command of God, and is to be understood, not only of giving abusive language to parents, but of slighting them in any way, by neglecting them, by taking no notice of them when they are in need and/or in distress. Now in these commands of Almighty God, Jesus shows that the Jews transgressed by their tradition, as appears from the following verses. The Jewish law punishes this crime with death. This duty of honoring and obeying a parent was what Christ said they had violated by their traditions. He proceeds to state the way in which it was done.
Matthew 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; (KJV)
But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or mother . . . meaning it was a tradition of the Jews, that if a man should say to his father and mother, when poor and in distress, and made application to him for provisions,
It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father, or his mother, he shall be free . . . Mark expresses it this way: Mark 7:11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. . . . To understand this tradition, the word "Corban" means a gift, or offering, which was devoted to sacred use; and could not be converted to any other use. This word was used among the Jews, as the form of an oath, or vow; and therefore, when anyone said "Corban", it was as if he swore by "Corban". There are many instances of this kind of vows, and the form of them in their oral law, or book of traditions. Anyone who made a Corban vow was required to dedicate money to God's Temple that otherwise would have gone to support his parents. Corban had become a religiously acceptable way to neglect parents, a way of getting around the child's responsibility to them. Although the action of giving money to God, seemed worthy and probably conferred respect to the giver, many people who took the Corban vow, simply were disregarding God's command to care for needy parents. These religious leaders were ignoring God's clear command to honor their parents.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free . . . honoring your father and mother includes supporting them. The way the Jews got around that responsibility was to set aside their money as a gift to God, and that would relieve them of supporting their parents. This gave a self-righteous way out for a man to break the Mosaic Law. The test of the Christian today is how he handles his money and how he handles God's money. The religious rulers of Jesus' day were helping men escape their responsibility. It is going on today, my friend, with Jews and Gentiles! I am certain that God wants us to pay our honest debts before you give to Him. God wants you to take care of your personal responsibilities.
Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by you tradition . . . IF such a vow was valid, and a man was obliged to abide by it, according to the tradition of the elders, and NOT honor his father and mother, as the law of God requires; it is plain to see, that the command of God was made null and void by this stupid tradition.
Matthew 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, (KJV)
Ye hypocrites . . . after the Lord Jesus had given such a complete proof of their making void the commandments of God by their traditions, He very justly calls them hypocrites. Hypocrisy is to conceal some basic principle under the pretence of religion. Never was there a clearer instance of it than this . . . trying to get rid of the duty of providing for needy parents under an appearance of piety towards God.
Well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying . . . Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (KJV) . . . Isaiah spoke of the people of Jesus’ day, spoke of the Jews, in terms that apply to the whole people. Jesus properly characterized the nation in calling them hypocrites. The words are applicable to the nation of Israel at all times, but my friend, they also apply to you as well. He did not mean particularly to speak of the nation in the time of Christ; but He spoke of them as having a national character of hypocrisy. Isaiah 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (KJV)
Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (KJV)
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth . . . the preface to these words, "wherefore the Lord said" (Isa.29:13, above), is left out in this quote, being unnecessary here, although of the greatest importance there . . . partly to show, that what was about to be said, was NOT the prophet's own words, but the Words of the Lord, of which the Jews in Christ's time made no doubt; and partly to give a reason why that judicial blindness, threatened in the context, should be inflicted on them. This only shows that the description in Isaiah, exactly agrees with them, and proves and confirms the character that Jesus gives of them as hypocrites. They did approach the ordinances of God, they did draw nigh to Him, and they did attend Him in outward worship; they did pray to Him publicly, in the streets, in the synagogues, and temple, and with much seeming devotion and sanctity:
And honoureth me with their lips . . . they did honor Him with their lips outwardly! They did own Him to be their Creator and preserver; they did boast of Him and of their knowledge of Him, as the one only living, and true God, and as the God of Israel. The did bring their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, even the fruit of their lips, unto Him, and they did seem sincere and affectionate.
But their heart is far from me . . . BUT, they had NO deep, true love for God, NO faith in Him, NO fear (reverence, respect) of Him; and they were NOT at all concerned for His Presence as God’s own Son with them. They wanted NO spiritual union with Him. Their hearts were in the world, and lusting after their covetousness. They simply made religion a tool to use in their secular purposes, thinking that gain was godliness, which it is NOT! They wanted only the applause of men, and contented themselves with outward religion. They had absolutely NO regard for sincere, internal, heartfelt religion. The Pharisees knew a lot about God, but they did not KNOW God. IF we claim to honor God while our heart is far from Him, our worship means absolutely nothing. It is not enough to study about religion or to study the Bible; it is not enough to act religious. Our actions and our attitudes must be sincere. If they are not, Isaiah's words also describe us.
Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (KJV)
But in vain do they worship me . . . their attempts to worship are vain, they are mere forms.
Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men . . . doctrines here, mean the requirements of religion, things to be believed and practiced in religion. Only God has a right to state what shall be done in His service . . . but they held their traditions to be far above the written Word of God, and taught them as doctrines (Col.2:22). The same thing goes on today! My friend, worship is really our fear (respect, reverence) towards God. If a church teaches traditions and false doctrines, they are NOT worshiping God as they should. BEWARE!!! http://www.hisservants.org/false_doctrines_h_s.htm
The Pharisees were teaching the people to observe the traditions of the elders, the decrees and determinations of the doctors, instead of the doctrines contained in the Scriptures, which were neglected by them. In the text in Isaiah, are only these words, "taught by the precept of men" and which relate to their fear and worship of God; and which is here interpreted of their teachers teaching them the commandments of men. Their mistake implies weakness of faith, because Jesus had given abundant evidence of His ability to feed them whether they had with them much bread or little. If they had remembered the feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand, they would not have been much concerned about bread (verse 2).
Matthew 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: (KJV)
And he called the multitude . . . having silenced the Scribes and Pharisees, and thinking it not worth His while to say any more to men so stubborn and wicked; who were not open to right belief, He leaves them. He both disliked and despaired of them, and calls out to the common people.
And said unto them, Hear and understand . . . the Scribes and Pharisees, who, with all their learning, could not, would not hear Him so as to understand Him. He wants to stimulate the attention of the multitude to what He had to say; and also to show, that to hear with the outward hearing of the ear, would be of no use, unless what is heard is understood in the heart and mind; and that the way to understand, is to listen carefully and hear.
Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (KJV)
Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man . . . I think that the Lord’s ‘common sense’ teaching is great. No meats or drinks, no manner of eating and drinking them, when moderately used, can defile a man, or render him loathsome and repulsive in God’s eyes. This is in direct opposition to the ideas of the Jews, who say that forbidden meats are unclean themselves (Acts 11:5-9), and defile both body and soul.
But that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man . . . it is sin, and only sin, which starts and comes from the heart, and is either expressed by the mouth, or performed by some outward action, which defiles mankind, and renders him loathsome, abominable, and repulsive in the sight of God. The heart is the source of ALL evil; the pollution of it starts very early (Ps.58:3), and is very general, reaching to all the powers and faculties of the soul. NOT that which goeth into the mouth . . . the disciples were charged with being sinners for transgressing the tradition of the elders, for in eating with unwashed hands. Christ Jesus replies that what they eat could not render them sinners. The man, the moral agent, the soul, could not be polluted by anything that was eaten. (Acts 10:15; Rom.14:14,20; 1 Tim.4:4; Tit.1:15). It is what comes out of the man himself, from his heart, that defiles him. Defile means to pollute, corrupt, to render sinful. The great standard that Jesus was teaching is that moral defilement is spiritual, NOT physical.
Matthew 15:12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? (KJV)
Then came his disciples, and said unto him . . . after the Lord had dismissed the people, He went into a private house (Mk.7:17). His disciples came to Him, full of concern, for what He had said to the Pharisees, and before all the people. They really did not understand it themselves.
Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying? . . . the apostles are shocked that the Lord would so offend the Pharisees. Up to now there has been conflict between the religious leaders and Jesus, but the apostles think that Jesus had gone over the line this time. The Pharisees were offended because they were very passionate about their traditions that they could not bear that their absurdities should be exposed. They set aside the commandments of God, and instead observed the customs and traditions of the elders. They were hypocrites; and the prophecy of Isaiah, which describes such persons, belonged to them.
Matthew 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. (KJV)
But he answered, and said . . . the Lord was not at all concerned about the Pharisees’ rage, and He had nothing to fear from them. He knew that what He had said was right, and would produce proper effects.
Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up . . . “plant” may be understood to be either of things or persons. It could be systems, or it could be doctrines and ordinances . . . meaning that whatever doctrine is not delivered by God, or whatever ordinance is not set up by Him, but is of man, of man's devising, such as the traditions of the elders, must be opposed and rejected, and sooner or later will be utterly rooted up and destroyed. ALL false doctrines, corrupt worship, and the errors and heresies of men, in God's own time, shall one day be gone. “Plant” can also mean respect of persons (Lev.19:15; Deut.1:17; 16:19; 2 Chron.19:7; Pro.24:23; 28:21; Rom.2:11; Eph.6:9; Col.3:25; Jam.2:1,9; 1 Pet.1:17). There are some plants, which are planted by Christ's Father, which is in Heaven; these are the elect of God, who are trees of righteousness (Isa.61:3); and are planted by the Lord, that He might be glorified. These are planted by the river of God's love, in the Person of Christ Jesus, in the likeness of His death and resurrection. They are transplanted out of a state of nature, and are grafted into Christ. They have the graces of the Spirit implanted in their souls (Rom.8:9), and they themselves are planted by the rivers of water (Ps.1:3), and are watered with the dews of His grace.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
Let them alone . . . the Lord told the apostles to have nothing to say or do with them. Do not pay attention to their anger and resentment, or their reproaches. Do not pay heed to them because they are offended at that which is right, for they are a worthless generation who are not to be listened to. He told them that it does not matter what they say of Him, and of His doctrine. Sticks and stones!
They be blind leaders of the blind . . . the Pharisees were spiritually blind, and the people that listen to them and follow them, are spiritually "blind". They have NO true sense of their state, as to any spiritual, saving knowledge of God. They were not acquainted with the Messiah, nor the method of salvation by Him (Jn.14:6); nor with the Spirit of God, and the work of grace, regeneration, and sanctification. As to the Scriptures of Truth, and doctrines of the Gospel, these "leaders" of the Jews were as "blind" as they were. Isaiah 42:19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant? (KJV) . . . This was predicted, that all such leaders and teachers are blind, who, in spite of their natural abilities, and acquired status, and are not spiritually renewed. These blind teachers lead people AWAY from Christ, teaching a dependence on their own righteousness to justify them in God’s eyes; teaching health, wealth and prosperity. Sound familiar? It is extremely rampant today!
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch . . . again, the Lord Jesus uses common sense! If both the teachers or leaders are blind, and the people are blind, the all will fall into a ditch. Makes sense to me. In direct opposition to the doctrines of the Pharisees, the Lord took occasion to show the people and the apostles, that the greatest source of pollution was the heart. They thought that external things was the chief cause that defiled a man, because on this all of their doctrines about purification were founded. This false opinion of the Jews really needed to be corrected. He took the occasion, therefore, to direct the people to the true source of defilement . . . their very own hearts. He directed them to its importance . . . Hear and understand! (verse 10).
Matthew 15:15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. (KJV)
Then answered Peter . . . Mark says, "his disciples asked him concerning the parable" (Mk.7:17), which was probably by the mouth of Peter, for he was the eldest and very forward to speak, and was usually their spokesman.
And said unto him, declare unto us this parable . . . about not what goes into the mouth, but what comes out of it, defiles the man. Although expressed in very plain words, and was easy to understand, yet it was not clear to them, and it seemed to be contrary, not only to the traditions of the elders, but to the laws of God, respecting the difference of clean and unclean meats; and therefore call it a "parable" and would like an explanation of it. Remember the word parable sometimes means a dark or obscure saying (Ps.78:2). I think that Peter means, explain it to us more fully.
Matthew 15:16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (KJV)
And Jesus said . . . for it seems that He was displeased with them, and would rebuke them for their dullness and ignorance.
Are ye also yet without understanding? . . . these had been with Him so long, had heard so many sermons from Him, and was instructed by Him, both in private and in public . . . yet they do not understand what is so plain and easy, that has no difficulty in it.
Matthew 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? (KJV)
Do not ye understand . . . you have to understand, you cannot be so ignorant (Mk.7:19). It seems that they did not hear and understand!
That whatsoever entereth in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? . . . whatever food a man takes into his mouth, he swallows and it is received into his stomach. It then proceeds down into the belly, and passing through the bowels, is emptied into the toilet, "purging all meats" as Mark says. Anything that is left in the body is pure, wholesome, and nourishing. NO part of it can defile him, because it only enters into the body, and passes through it; and as Mark says, "entereth not into the heart". The heart is the seat of ALL moral impurity, and since nothing that we eat can pollute the heart, NO moral pollution can be contracted by eating ANY kind of food, even though the food is not clean itself, or if it is eaten with dirty “unwashed” hands.
Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. (KJV)
But those things which proceed out of the mouth . . . this does not mean physical things such as spittle and vomit but, that which
Come forth from the heart . . . all evil is first conceived and formed in the heart, and then are expressed by the mouth . . . such as all idle words, foolish talking, filthy jesting, nasty communication, and every word that is rotten and corrupt, or that which is acted out in the lifestyle.
And they defile the man . . . the heart is a very corrupt fountain from whence ALL moral defilement flows. Sinful words and actions are the impure streams which spring from the heart, and greatly increase the moral pollution of human nature.
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: (KJV)
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts . . . of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, of fellow creatures, and of ALL kinds of wickedness. All thoughts of sin are evil, and should be hated and forsaken, because one day, all men shall be held accountable to God for their works and words. All wicked imaginations, carnal reasoning, lustful desires, and malicious plans are included; because they arise from, are created and formed in the corrupt heart of man.
Murders . . . confirmed hatred of men, malicious deception, schemes to take away life, all angry and wrathful words (1 Jn.3:15), and the actual act of taking man's life.
Adulteries . . . is sexual uncleanness committed between married persons, both in thought and deed:
Fornications . . . is unlawful sexual intercourse of persons not married.
Thefts . . . taking away from others by force or fraud, what is their right and property:
False witness . . . swearing falsely, or exhibiting a false testimony to the hurt of his neighbor, either his name, person, or estate:
Blasphemies . . . speaking evil of God or men. To which Mark 7:21-23 adds: "covetousness"; a greedy and insatiable desire after the things of the world, or the neighbor’s goods: "wickedness"; doing hurt and mischief to fellow creatures: "deceit" in words and actions, in trade and conversation: "lasciviousness" all manner of uncleanness, and unnatural lusts: "an evil eye" of envy and covetousness: the corruption of nature, "pride" in heart and life, in dress and gesture; and "foolishness"; expressed in talk and conduct.
Matthew 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. (KJV)
These are the things which defile a man . . . these are filthy and simply pollute all those in whom they are; they bring a defilement on the whole person, both body and soul, fasten guilt upon him, and expose him to everlasting punishment:
But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man . . . IF a person forgets to wash his bands before eating a meal, this should not bring uneasiness on him, for he sends no filth to his soul, or any guilt to his conscience; nor does he break any law of God. He is not liable to any penalty for such an omission. This is a small, trifling matter, and merits no regard . . . BUT, the above sinful things mentioned above are in their nature evil: and are contrary to the law of God; they are abominable in His sight; they make men loathsome and repulsive to Almighty God; and expose the persons to shame and ruin. It is only the Blood of Christ (1 Pet.1:18-19) that can cleanse them from the pollution and guilt of them, and secure them from that punishment they deserve. Only Jesus can save you from God's wrath and Hell (Jn.14:6).
Those of us who believe the Bible are considered squares to the world, and completely wrong. What do we have in this day of freedom, now that the lid has been taken off and man expresses what is in his heart? It certainly is NOT a new morality! We have the same OLD things . . . evil thoughts, murder, adultery, covetousness, fornication, false witness, blasphemy, and thefts, all just as bad as they were before! It is like opening a Pandora's box. They mean big trouble to those who continue on in such sin.
Man is the most vicious animal on Earth. He must be controlled. We put other vicious animals in cages, but man is free to do his thing, and our Lord has told us what mankind will do, and He says that these things defile. All around us today, is an emphasis on sex . . . on television, on radio, in our schools, even in our churches. It stares at you from billboards, from the covers of magazines, from newspaper headlines. My friend, these things DEFILE! Our children and young people are being defiled . . . all in the freedom of speech! No one is immune to it. The things that are in the heart are now coming out. Our Lord has made a tremendous Truth here.
Jesus Heals The Syrophoenician Woman's Daughter (Matthew 15:21-28)
Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. (KJV)
Then Jesus went thence . . . from the land of Gennesaret, after He had silenced the Pharisees, as to the charge brought by them against His disciples. And when He had reproved them for their hypocrisy and wickedness, in making void the commands of God by their foolish traditions; and had explained some difficult and parabolical sayings to His disciples, He then left that country, departing very quietly and privately, either to shun the multitude, for the sake of retirement; or to avoid any snares the Scribes and Pharisees might be laying for Him, who must be greatly galled with His free discourse, and strong arguments.
And departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon . . . two principal cities of Phoenicia: not that He went directly into these places themselves, but into some places that was near them, because He ordered His apostles not to go in the way of the Gentiles, neither did He Himself go there.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And behold a woman of Canaan . . . of Phoenicia, which was also called Canaan. Came out of the same coasts . . . being an inhabitant, it is very likely, either of Tyre or Sidon: this shows that Christ did not go into these places, but only to the borders of them, since she is said to come out of them to Him; who, having heard of Him, and the miraculous cures wrought by Him, and being informed that He was near,
And cried unto him . . . with a loud voice, with much passion, for she was in great distress,
Saying, have mercy on me . . . meaning, by curing her daughter, with whose case she was so much affected, that she made it, as it were, her own:
O Lord, thou son of David . . . The Syrophoenician woman was a mixture of several races and a true Gentile (Mk.7:26). She had no claim on Jesus as the Son of David, and when she addressed Him as such, He did not answer her.
My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil . . . which had taken possession of her, and had grievously afflicted her. The woman’s request to Him was, that He would cast the devil out of her daughter; believing that He had power to do it, without seeing or touching her, only by a word speaking. Her faith was like that of the centurion's (Mat.8:5-13).
Matthew 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. (KJV)
But he answered her not a word . . . not that He did not hear her, because He did hear her. Not because He despised either her or her petition, or that He was not moved by it; but He wanted her to continue her request, trying her faith, and making it clear. Always for like reasons, the Lord does not always and immediately answer the requests of His people. His giving her no answer, either that He would, or would not help her, carried in it a unspoken warding off of her, and a seeming denial of assistance to her; and it seems as if she did for a while cease from her application to Him, and went herself to His disciples to plead with Him for her.
And his disciples came . . . to the house where He was; who, it seems by this, they had been elsewhere.
And besought him, saying, send her away . . . it seems that they wanted her dismissed, without a grant of her request, as appears from Christ's answer: the reason they give is,
For she crieth after us . . . not only because she was troublesome to them, but was persistently demanding with them, refusing to take a denial from them. She followed them wherever they went; there was no getting rid of her. Because her case was so moving, and was delivered in such a heart rending manner, and her cries pierced their ears that they could not bear them; they begged Him to dismiss her.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (KJV)
But he answered, and said . . . to His disciples, who knew how limited their commission was. They were not to go into the way of the Gentiles, not to preach to them, nor to perform miracles among them; and therefore could not reasonably expect that either the woman, or they, on her behalf, should succeed in this matter.
I am not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel . . . this seems to be a unkind statement, but it was a statement of fact. Jesus was offering Himself first as the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the coming of the King in David's line. He was forcing this Gentile woman to recognize that fact. Jesus came as King of the Jews. It was the main issue that had to be settled. He died with this superscription written over Him on the Cross: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS (Mat.27:37).
He came as a Priest, as a Saviour and Redeemer, He was sent to make satisfaction and atonement for the sins of all God's elect, and to obtain eternal redemption and salvation for all of them, whether Jews or Gentiles; but as a Prophet, in the discharge of His own Personal ministry, He was sent by His Father only to the Jews; He was the "minister of the circumcision" (Rom.15:8). He was sent only to preach the Gospel to the Jews, and work miracles among them, as proof of His Messiahship. When the Jews rejected Him, then His apostles were to sent among the Gentiles; but He Himself was sent only to the Jews, here styled "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." "The house of Israel" means the whole of the Jewish nation, so called from Israel, the name of Jacob their father. Now see what this Gentile woman says.
Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (KJV)
Then came she and worshipped him . . . she followed the disciples into the house, pushing her way through; her faith growing stronger by the moment, and her demand all the greater. She had called Christ Lord, and the son of David before, but now she worships Him as God.
Saying, Lord help me . . . quite a brief petition, but it fully and fitly expressed her case. She prays to the Lord, by which she owns His sovereignty, His dominion and His power. She knew that she could not help her daughter, but she firmly believed that Jesus could. Even though it was her daughter, and not she herself, that was so afflicted; yet her compassion, love and affection to her daughter, that she makes the case her own, and calls helping her daughter, helping herself. For if her daughter were relieved, she herself would be made easy.
Matthew 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. (KJV)
But he answered, and said . . . to the woman.
It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs . . . the Lord is pushing her faith even further. By "the children" are meant the Jews, to whom the adoption belonged; who, as a nation and people, were the children of God in a large sense; being distinguished by many blessings and favors, which others did not have. Not that all the Jews were the children of God by special grace, because they were not. By "the bread" means the external ministry of the Word, and the miracles that Christ did among them, and also outward favors which related to the good of the bodies of men, by healing their diseases, and dispossessing them of devils. By "the dogs" are meant the Gentiles, so called by the Jews because of contempt, because of their ignorance, idolatry and impurity. Dogs: (Ps.22:16; Mat.7:6; 15:26; Mk.7:27; Phil.3:2). The Lord Jesus does not reproach the Gentiles, nor hold them in scorn and contempt, but He uses the common language of the people, and which, this woman, who lived on the border of the Israelite nation, was acquainted with; so it was not shocking and surprising to her, or was it as discouraging, as it would have been otherwise.
The following passage illustrates this, and is further proof of the Jews calling the Gentiles dogs, in which may be clearly discerned the distinction between children and dogs, and the application of the one to the Jews, and the other to the Gentiles, and the different food that belongs to each: and hence it is easy to see from whom Christ borrowed this expression, and with what view He made use of it.
Matthew 15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. (KJV)
And she saith, truth, Lord . . . she agrees with the Lord on all that He said, that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: that she was indeed but a dog, a poor sinful creature, and unworthy of any favor (like all of us); and that it was not right and fitting that all the children's bread should be taken from them and given to dogs. BUT, she says,
Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table . . . she so wisely adds to the words Jesus spoke, and improves it in a very beautiful way, in her own favor, what seemed to be so much against her. She states that although the Gentiles were just dogs, and she one of them . . . yet their common Lord and Master was proper and right in His treatment of them, and they were to be maintained and fed, and should live, although not in the fullness of favors and blessings, as the Jews, the children of God. She did not want their privileged circumstances, only that a crumb of mercy might be given her, that her poor daughter might be healed; which was but a small favor, compared to the many He had done for the children, the Jews. What she means is, it would not in any way be harmful to the children, if the dogs under the table, ate the crumbs that fell.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
Then Jesus answered, and said unto her . . . was He surprised at her faith, and her clear and just reasoning? I do not think so. For He knows all things. It seems now He would no longer conceal Himself nor the plans of grace any longer from her. He breaks out in great admiration of her.
O woman, great is thy faith! . . . He seems surprised, that she, a poor Gentile woman, should express such strong faith in Him; calling Him Lord, owning Him to be the Messiah, worshipping Him as God, and believing that He was able to do what could not be done by humans. And even though she had met with such horrible resistance, and even being called a dog, yet she still continued to plead with Him, believing she would succeed.
Be it unto thee even as thou wilt . . . your daughter is healed, just as you wanted.
And her daughter was made whole from that very hour . . . power went forth from Christ, and dispossessed the devil; so that when she came home, as Mark observes, she found her daughter lying on the bed, quiet, and easy, and perfectly well. The conduct of our Lord towards this woman, and her behavior under it, do, in a very dynamic way, represent the methods which God sometimes takes with His people. Any time that we go to Him in our distress, like she did; and the nature and performance of our faith in Him is like hers when she first went to Christ for mercy and help, we, like her, must be persistent (Lk.11:5-8; 18:1-8). Sometimes the Lord may seem to turn a deaf ear, or seems not to hear, and, in our dread of things, it seems as if He has covered Himself with a cloud, that our prayer cannot pass through. But she persevered and received her request; we too must do as she did. The effectual, fervent prayer, the prayer of faith availeth much with God. We must remember this. Our Lord really marveled at the faith of this Gentile woman. He had said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden," He will help, and that is what He did for a Canaanite woman. Her answer had revealed such a great faith, and to that faith our Lord responded.
Jesus Continues To Heal (Matthew 15:29-31)
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And Jesus departed from thence . . . from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, where He would have been privately retired; but being discovered, and knowing that the fame of this last miracle would make Him more sought after in those parts, He left, and passed through the midst of the coast of Decapolis, as Mark says, "and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee": the same as the sea of Tiberias (Jn.6:1; 21:1), meaning that He came to those parts of Galilee, which lay near the sea side,
And went into a mountain . . . which was very common for Him to do, either for solitude, for prayer, and sometimes for better place to preach to the people.
And sat down there . . . to rest, being weary from His journey, and to wait for the multitude to come to Him, both for instruction and healing.
Matthew 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: (KJV)
And great multitudes came unto him . . . and the multitudes did come, from all the neighboring places; having heard of His being where He was; and who had either attended on Him before, or the fame of Him and His miracles, had reached their ears. They flocked to Him, having with them the ones that needed healing; in their hands, or arms, or upon their backs, or shoulders, leading some, and carrying others, in some form or another,
Those that were lame . . . either in their legs, or arms:
Blind . . . in one eye, or both either from their birth, or because of an accident.
Dumb . . . I think the word means both deaf and dumb: as these both often were in the same person: and if a man is born deaf, he is always dumb:
Maimed . . . having lost a limb, an arm, or a leg, or were enfeebled by some disease or another, such as the palsy, that their limbs were useless to them.
And many others . . . who were afflicted with many other various diseases, too many to be mentioned. (Jn.21:25).
And cast them down at Jesus' feet . . . to ease themselves of their burdens, and with a view to move His compassion, believing He was able to cure them. They do they say a word to Him, thinking it was enough to present them to Him, and not doubting at all, that He would show favor to them.
And he healed them . . . immediately, either by speaking, or by touching them, or by putting His hands on them, without any outward sign, through a divine power proceeding from Him, which, immediately removed all their disorders and complaints.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
Insomuch that the multitude wondered . . . the multitude of the spectators, who, although they came expecting to see miracles done, yet what they saw was so much beyond what they could have imagined, they were amazed and surprised to see cures so instantly performed, in such a miraculous way. They were such glaring proofs and evidence of the wonderful power of God, that they were astonished.
When they saw the dumb to speak . . . the dumb were now able to speak. Some copies read, "the deaf to hear", and "the maimed to be whole". Persons who had not only lost the use of their limbs, but those who had lost the limbs themselves, would have them restored perfectly; for there was no doubt that the power of our Lord Jesus was certainly able to do this, and which was amazing to behold. Jesus IS God!
The lame to walk, and the blind to see . . . as was prophesied of the times of the Messiah, and as things to be done by Him (Isa.35:5-6).
And they glorified the God of Israel . . . some copies add, "which had given such power to the son of man" which seems to be taken from (Mat.9:8). Also see: (Mat.12:23; Mk.7:37; Lk.7:16). This must be understood both of the multitude that saw these miracles, and the persons on whom they were done. Everyone was affected by them, and gave God the praise and glory of them, by whose power alone, could such things be done, for only He, and He alone, is the one only and TRUE God; and therefore, to distinguish him from the fictitious deities of the Gentiles, He is here styled the God of Israel, the God of the people of Israel. Jesus IS God! . . . http://www.hisservants.org/is_jesus_god_h_s.htm
Jesus Feeds The Four Thousand (Matthew 15:32-39)
This miracle seems to be very similar to the feeding of the five thousand.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
Then Jesus called his disciples unto him . . . they must have been at a little distance from Him. He wanted to convey what was on His mind, and prepare them for the following miracle; as well as to teach them by His example, by showing mercy and compassion to persons in any kind of want and distress.
And said, I have compassion on the multitude . . . this must be understood of Him as Man, for they having been so long without any food for their bodies, or very little; as He had compassion on the sick, and diseased, and healed them, so on these sound and whole ones, He had compassion on their hunger and was willing to feed them. Christ, our High Priest, is a merciful One indeed, and is touched with the feeling of the infirmities of men, of every kind, of both body and soul.
Because they continue now with me three days . . . three day now, Jesus had been healing their bodily disorders, and preaching to them for the good of their souls; which shows the diligence and tirelessness of Christ, as well as the attachment of the people to Him; who were so taken in with His miracles and ministry. They showed absolutely no sign of leaving Him.
And have nothing to eat . . . after three days, even if they had brought any food, it would now be gone, nor could they provide any food in that desert place, and many of them were a long way from home.
And I will not send them away fasting . . . Jesus could not bear the thoughts of dismissing them in such a condition; having had but very little sustenance all this time.
Lest they faint by the way . . . not having enough strength to get to their own houses, not having strength enough to travel, for as Mark says, some "came from far".
Matthew 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? (KJV)
And his disciples said unto him . . . it seems that the former miracle of feeding five thousand men, besides women and children, with five loaves and two fishes, never came to the minds of the apostles, because of their reply,
Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? . . . the question is a big one, with objections, and is asked with some astonishment. The people to be fed was a great multitude, a very great multitude, and had had but little or no food, for a long while; therefore it would require more to fill and satisfy them. And there were no provisions to be had; and if they could have been gotten for money, they did not have enough to purchase such a large number of loaves, as were necessary to feed so great a company with.
Matthew 15:34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. (KJV)
And Jesus saith unto them . . . in a very mild, gentle manner, taking no notice of their stupidity, nor rebuking them with their forgetfulness of the late miracle. Trying their faith, He asks,
How many loaves have ye? . . . meaning those that they had brought along with them, for their own food.
And they said seven, and a few little fishes . . . their answer is seven loaves, such a small amount, that it seemed as nothing for such a multitude. The fish were probably dried or boiled were few in number, and small, as to quantity and size.
Matthew 15:35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. (KJV)
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground . . . Jesus gave no thought as to the smallness of the provisions, nor did He consult His apostles any further, for He knew He had power to increase this food to be more than enough to feed the multitude before He dismissed them. In an authoritative way, He commanded them to sit down, that they might be the better seen and served.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And he took the seven loaves and the fishes . . . into His Hands, and lifted them up so that it might be seen and observed, that there was NO other food than what He held in His Hands, that being so the miracle might appear in its true light.
And gave thanks . . . to God for the provisions, although it was so small, teaching us to do so likewise, and to be thankful for, and content with our portion, be it more or less. We should be grateful to God for our daily food, and we should render unto Him well deserved and proper thanksgiving. Do YOU give thanks before you eat?
And brake them . . . which also was the custom of the master of the family to do.
And gave to his disciples . . . to refresh their faith, to reprove their unbelief, to make them remember the former miracle, and that they might be witnesses of this, and in order to distribute to the people, which they therefore did.
And the disciples to the multitude . . . in doing so, they obeyed their Master's orders, although they could not persuade themselves, that such a multitude of people could be filled with so small a quantity. O ye of little faith: (Mat.6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Lk.12:28). How often the faith of Jesus’ apostles dwindled! But, we must not judge them, for how often does our faith dwindle?
Matthew 15:37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. (KJV)
And they did all eat, and were filled . . . every person there, men, women and children, all had a share of the food, and that was to their full satisfaction; no one was overlooked and neglected, and everyone had as much as he could eat. No one went away hungry!
and they took up of the broken meat that was left, seven baskets full . . . the apostles, after they had given everyone their portion, went around, and collected all that was left. Now instead of having seven loaves left, as when they started, the left-overs filled seven baskets. They had more than a full return for the loaves and fishes that they started with.
Matthew 15:38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. (KJV)
And they that did eat, were four thousand men . . . the number of men, and the baskets of left-overs, clearly shows this to be a distinct miracle from the former of this kind, recorded in (Mat.14:15-21). There the number of men was five thousand, here four thousand; there the quantity of food was five loaves and two fishes, here seven loaves and a few fishes; there the number of the baskets of fragments was twelve, here seven. Besides women and children . . . who were not counted with the men, even though they ate as well as the men, and whose number probably was at least just as large.
Matthew 15:39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala, (KJV)
And he sent away the multitude . . . I am sure that He dismissed them, either with a prayer or with a suitable word of encouragement, to be thankful for the blessings and mercies, both spiritual and temporal, that they had received, and to conduct themselves agreeably in their lives.
And took ship . . . for He was near the sea of Galilee,
And came into the coasts of Magdala . . . this name “Magdala” appears only in here and in Mark 8:10. From these two Passages it is reasonable to infer that "the borders of Magadan" and "the parts of Dalmanutha" bordered one another. It seems that they lay on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. After the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus and His apostles came to these parts. After that, they departed to "the other side" (Mk.8:13), arriving at Bethsaida.
Mark says, that He came into the parts of Dalmanutha, which was a place within the coasts of Magdala. This was not the place, but another of the same name near Jerusalem, from where Mary Magdalene may be thought to have her name. Some versions read: "they went into a ship, and departed into the mountains of Magdala"; meaning Christ and His apostles.
Gospel of Matthew
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