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
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
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.’ 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
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.