Matthew 13:54-16:12 Practice Genuine Purity

        Matthew 13:54-16:12         October 21 2007

    Chapter 15 gives more of Jesus’ teaching and explains the
    growing opposition He faced. The dispute about tradition
    and genuine religion (Matt15:1-20) portrays the rejection
    of the religion authorities. The contrast between these
    supposed leaders of Israel and the faith of the Canaanite
    woman (Matt. 15:21-28) is stark. Those who should have
    been most ready to recognize the Messiah were the most
    blind. A Gentile woman, however trusted Jesus completely;
    and He commended her for her faith. The remaining
    accounts underscore Jesus’ ability to heal all kinds of
    infirmities (Matt. 15:29-31) and to feed another multitude
    (Matt. 15:32-39).

    1. Are You Disobedient? (Matt. 15:1-3)

Matt. 15:1   Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came
to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 15:2   “Why do your
disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash
their hands before they eat!” 15:3   Jesus replied, “And why do
you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

    The tradition of the elders. After the Babylonian captivity,
    the Jewish rabbis began to make meticulous rules and
    regulations governing the daily life of the people. These
    were interpretations and applications of the law of Moses,
    handed down from generation to generation. In Jesus’ day
    this “tradition of the elders” was in oral form. It was not
    until  A.D. 200 that it was put into writing in the Mishnah.
    Wash. (Mk 7:1-4).
    The previous discussion should help us understand more
    clearly how Jesus’ teaching put Him on a collision course
    with the Pharisees and scribes. His response shows Jesus
    did not expect a cordial discussion . He accused them of
    breaking God’s commandment.

    2. Are You Dishonest? (Matt. 15:4-9)

Matt. 15:4   For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and
‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’
15:5   But you say that if a man says to his father or mother,
‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is
a gift devoted to God,’ 15:6   he is not to ‘honor his father ’
with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your
tradition. 15:7   You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he
prophesied about you: 15:8   “ ‘These people honor me with
their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 15:9   They
worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by
men.’ ”

    The people said all the right things, thus honoring God
    with their lips. The real problem was within. Jesus
    always made real religion a matter of the heart. This
    is the seat of motive. The Pharisees’ actions were legally
    correct as they followed Corban. But their hearts were
    impure, being corrupted by greed, selfishness, and
    The KJV has "draweth nigh to me with their Mouth" because
    it and the HCSB follow different Greek manuscripts Here.
    Thus you nullify the word of god by your Tradition. The
    teachers of the law appealed to Num. 30:1-2 in support of
    the Corban vow, but Jesus categorically rejects the practice
    of using one Biblical teaching to nullify another. The scribal
    interpretation of Num. 30:1-2 satisfied the letter of the
    passage but missed the meaning of the law as a whole. God
    never intended obedience to one command to nullify another.

    3. Are You Blind? (Matt. 15:10-14)

Matt. 15:10   Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen
and understand. 15:11   What goes into a man’s mouth does not
make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is
what makes him ‘unclean.’ ” 15:12   Then the disciples came to
him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended
when they heard this?” 15:13   He replied, “Every plant that my
heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.
15:14   Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a
blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

    In saying this , Jesus declared all foods "Clean". (Mark 7:19)
    adds this parenthetical comment to help his readers see the
    significance of Jesus’ pronouncement for them (Acts 10:9-16).
    Jesus showed little patience with anyone whose religion was
    self-serving and intimidating of others. Leave them alone
    allows no room for reducing the seriousness of this matter. 
    These religious leaders were a danger to God’s intent and
    were to be shunned, not followed.
    God envisioned His people serving as alight to the nations, and
    these leaders certainly would have conceived of themselves in
    those terms. Ironically, they were blind, a metaphor for
    spiritual ignorance. Instead of leading the Blind to the light,
    these leaders led them to a pit into which both would fall,
    again and image of judgment.   

    4. Are You Defiled? (Matt. 15:15-20)

Matt. 15:15   Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 15:16   “Are
you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 15:17   “Don’t you see that
whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of
the body? 15:18   But the things that come out of the mouth come
from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 15:19   For out of
the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality,
theft, false testimony, slander. 15:20   These are what make a man
‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him
‘unclean.’ ”

    ‘Unclean.’ Jesus replaced the normal Jewish understandings
    of defilement with the truth that defilement comes from an
    impure heart, not the violation of external rules. Fellowship
    with God is not interrupted by unclean hands or food, but by
    sin (Mark7:21-23).
    Foods do not produce harmful words and lies.  The heart does.
    To the ancients the heart was the origin of all physical, mental
    and spiritual life. If it was impure, then a person’s life was
impure . Food could not possibly affect the status of one’s heart.
    What the impure heart produces, however, does defile a person.
    All actions , thoughts, and motives originate there; and since
    these can be impure, so also can we.


The Pharisees, scribes, and others in Judaism believed that, in addition to the written law, Moses also received on Mt.Sinai the oral tradition that he then passed along to the ancestors of the scribes. This tradition continued to be passed down through the centuries, with additional commentaries and applications and was regarded as having equal authority with the Scripture. Eventually it was written down by the third century A.D. and called the Mishnah. It then was combined with other commentary called the Gemara to form the Talmud. The oral law was originally intended to be a hedge around the written law to keep a person from transgressing.