The Christian life is not a label to put on, but a life to be put in; not a system of doctrine to be quibbled about but a great principle to be lived out. Genuine faith overcomes all obstacles. His compassion meets all needs.
1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
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;
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.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
10 ¶ And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
21 ¶ Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
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.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
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.
29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
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:
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.
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.
33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
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.
37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
Matthew 15:1-9 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 15:10-20 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 15:21-31 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 15:32-39 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 15:1-9 – God’s Truth above Men’s Teaching
The legal washing of hands before eating was especially sacred in the eyes of the Pharisees. “He who does not wash His hands before eating,” says the Talmud, “is as bad as a murderer.” Jesus had no sympathy with a system that reduced religion to a slavery to outward forms. His new kingdom was in the heart, in loving sonship to God, and in faith. All outward observances had value only as expressions of the inner spirit. He waived aside their deadly pedantry and told His hearers to care above everything for the cleanliness of the heart.
He did more; He accused the Pharisees of putting their commandments on a level with the divine requirements, and so rendering the whole of Israel’s worship vain. The divine authority for what is commanded is greatly weakened when it is mixed up with the purely human. A multitude of saints’ days weakens the claims of the Lord’s day. Remember that no gift to God’s service is acceptable if you neglect the claims of those who are related to you by natural ties. Morality in God’s eyes stands far above ritual. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 15:10-20 – What Really Defiles
It is good to study our Lord’s list of the sources of soul-pollution. Evil thoughts come first. We cannot prevent an evil suggestion being presented to our minds, but we can refuse to dwell on it. To resist the inclination to dwell on it strengthens us in the opposite direction; to yield to it is to commit the sin in our heart, which, in God’s sight, is equivalent to the outward act. Notice that blasphemies, that is, unkind and uncharitable speech, is in this black-list.
The heart, rather than the body, is the source of sin. Out of the heart! The body is the dial-plate on which the soul registers its improvement or deterioration. Do not find fault with your members: look to your heart and keep it beyond keeping, for out of it are the issues of life. Ask God to create in you a clean heart. See that you distinguish between the first Adam and the second. Deny what you inherit of human weakness and sin, and affirm all that is of Christ’s imparting. The cross of Calvary and the uprising of the living Christ are facts of perpetual experience. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 15:21-28 – The Reward of an Outsider’s Faith
A crumb from the table of our Lord can make the heart satisfied and glad. But the suppliant must take the right place and give Him His right place. This poor Gentile mother had no claim on Jesus as the son of David—He was therefore silent. It was impossible for her to come in by the door of the covenant, but His silence led her to knock at another door, and taught her to cry, Lord, help me.
There was yet another lesson for her to learn and the Lord knew that she was capable of learning it. She must realize that for the time His ministry was confined to the Chosen People, so that the Gentile claim could be recognized only incidentally. But when she was willing to take the low place under the table and ask for the children’s crumbs, He put the key of His unsearchable riches into her hand, saying, “Woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” Those who yield to God most absolutely are able to decree things! See Job 22:28; John 15:7. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 15:25 – There is a chain of but three links in this prayer of the poor woman of Canaan, but it reaches a long way. Some of the most beautiful prayers ever uttered are very short prayers. This is a very short prayer – any child can say it. There are three links in the chain, mark you, One link is on the throne of God; it is “Lord.” The other link is down here; it is “me.” And then there is a great link between that and this; it is “help.” “Lord, help me.” And the greater your need, the more that middle link in the chain will express. (Marcus Rainsford)
Matthew 15:27 – “Truth, Lord: yet”! is the sum and substance of faith. If we have learned to combine these words, we have learned to believe. Truth, Lord: “sin hath reigned unto death”; yet “even so might grace reign… unto eternal life” (Romans 5:21). Truth, Lord: “cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10); yet, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Truth, Lord, is the sea of our sin and guilt, and the righteous anger of God; yet, is the rock of Christ’s redemption and love. Truth, Lord, is a view of self; yet, is a view of Jesus. (Saphir)
Matthew 15:28—Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
This was a remarkable permission. It is not often that Christ takes the key to his stores out of the bunch which hangs at his girdle, and entrusts it to a soul, saying in effect, Take what you will. “Concerning the work of my hands command ye me” (Isaiah 45:11).
1. We must intercede for others.—This woman came for her child. We must always be on our guard when we ask much for self, lest somehow our requests be prompted by self-aggrandizement. If we do ask for power, wisdom, or likeness to Christ, let it be that we may help others better. The apostle says that Christ “washed us from our sins… and hath made us… priests” (Revelation 1:5-6). We all need this washing, that we may become intercessors.
2. We must accord Christ his right place.—The Canaanitish woman came to Him as the Son of David, and He answered her not a word. She had no claim on Him as such. That He was the Jews’ Messiah could not help her. She had given Him that title by courtesy and hearsay. It was necessary that by his silence she should be driven to find Him for herself. When she gave Him a universal title, and said, Lord, help me! worshipping at his feet, she was a step nearer the goal.
3. We must answer his affirmations with Yea.—He told her what She was. She was an alien and outcast. She was not part of the chosen family; she must understand her true position, and take it. And she did. She said, Yea, Lord. If you can perfectly accept God’s will, so that it shall take the place of your own; if you will take your place among the dogs beneath the table, you are sure to obtain answers to your prayers—God can let you have your way, because it will be his. —Our Daily Homily
Matthew 15:28 – Oh, the victories of prayer! They are the mountain tops of the Bible. They take us back to the plains of Mamre, to the fords of Peniel, to the prison of Joseph, to the triumphs of Moses, to the transcendent victories of Joshua, to the deliverances of David, to the miracles of Elijah and Elisha, to the whole story of the Master’s life, to the secret of Pentecost, to the keynote of Paul’s unparalleled ministry, to the lives of saints and the deaths of martyrs, to all that is most sacred and sweet in the history of the Church and the experience of the children of God. And when, for us, the last conflict shall have passed, and the footstool of prayer shall have given place to the harp of praise, the spots of time that shall be gilded with the most celestial and eternal radiance, shall be those, often linked with deepest sorrow and darkest night, over which we have the inscription, “Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord was there!” (Simpson)
Matthew 15:29-39 – Ministering to the Multitudes
Our Lord’s mission of grace and truth was at its height. His help was sought with the utmost eagerness. Large numbers of sick were cast at His feet in hot haste. The crumb was given to the woman of Canaan, but whole loaves were distributed to the crowds of Jews, because it was befitting that they should have a full chance to appreciate and accept Christ. For a brief moment they glorified the God of Israel, but the spasm of gratitude was transient. “His own” rejected Jesus. They would have His miracles, but would not own His claims. Take care that you do not become content with getting His help; love Him for Himself.
Do not suppose that these miracles were confined to His earthly life. He is still the great storehouse of divine and healing energy. He is still moved with compassion, and longs to help each weary and sin-sick soul. His thought still is lest they faint in the way. The wilderness can place no bar on “the saving strength of his right hand” (Psalm 20:6). Disciples especially are meant to be intermediaries and mediators. They take and give. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 15:34 – Christ puts that question day by day to each one of us. There be many that say, “I have no work for Christ, and no mission. Mine is no lofty station, mine is no large sphere, mine is no eloquent tongue, or popular manner, or telling influence. It is too late for me – or perhaps, for the heart is versatile in its deceitfulness, it is too soon for me – to undertake anything for Christ; the King of Glory wants chief men, choice gifts, for His ministries: let me live out my little day and go back to the ground from which I was taken.” Gravely, sorrowfully, yet earnestly and gently too, does Christ address Himself to you today, saying, “Think yet once more – how many loaves have ye?” Nothing? Not a soul? Not a body? Not time? Not one friend, not one neighbor, not one servant, to whom a kind word may be spoken, or a kind deed done, in the name, for the love of Jesus? Bring that – do that, say that – as what thou hast; very small, very trivial, very worthless, if thou wilt: yet remember the saying, “She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:8). (Vaughan)