-Here we see another situation where the pious Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem have come to him, probably with intrigue and curiosity due to His popularity and power. They observed that His disciples were not ceremonially clean according to their strict traditions as it pertained to washing before eating. Jesus took this opportunity to teach on what really defiles a person and to shoot down their reliance on man-made traditions. He uses their rules of Corban (literally “offering” to God) because this particular religious practice invalidated the direct command of God. What was happening was that the religious leaders were requiring the people to give God, or the Temple (i.e. the religious system), money that would have been designated for the support of their parents, a direct command of the LORD (Exodus 20:12; 21:17, Deuteronomy 5:16, Leviticus 20:9). Corban had become a religiously acceptable way to neglect parents, circumventing (going around) the child’s responsibility to them.
-Then Jesus taught on what actually defiles the person from the heart within. In effect He declared all physical foods clean even though in the Law many were unhealthy and declared that way by God. Thus, Jesus was saying that there had been some gross misinterpretation of God’s actual commands because many had missed the point. Jesus illuminates the inner workings of the Lord’s plan because out of the heart proceed all things evil, not from the outside in (Matthew 15:16-20). *Application* Jesus’ words are strong and should be a warning for us as people who have a natural tendency to teach and make doctrines out of the traditions of man. Not only did the tenants of Judaism fall into this trap, but many in the church age have as well. The Reformation, in effect, was as reaction to the traditions of the Catholic Church that had invalidated the direct commands of Scripture. In today’s tradition we also see things sometimes, even in evangelical Christianity, which go against direct commands of God’s Word. One example of this is the cessationist doctrine (the doctrine that forbids the speaking in tongues). This doctrine has had to be taught by man because it is nowhere in the Bible. It is fundamentally a learned tradition of man. When Paul says that tongues will cease in 1 Corinthians 13:8 he is speaking in future tense and includes two other things that we know logically have not been completed, that being prophecy and knowledge. This will happen in the eschaton when we are actually with Christ. Paul was speaking within the church age and makes it very clear that tongues are not to be forbidden (1 Corinthians 14:39) within the context of worship and this is in the imperative (a direct command from Scripture). There is certainly an order and a prophetic discernment that is attached with this expression, but it was to be a vital part of the decent and proper Christian experience (1 Corinthians 14:26-40). Due to our traditions and western mindset, we have naturally set aside what God specifically ordained and commanded. This has grieved and quenched His Spirit from moving, but as the prophet Joel reminds us, the last days will see a pouring out of His Spirit (Joel 2:28-31). So don’t just take a manmade doctrine because of tradition even if it is from a humanly validated source. Instead, focus on what God has commanded in His Word. Let that be enough to guide and direct us.
-Next, Jesus heals a Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, who was cruelly demon possessed, because of her faith even after being criticized by Jesus’ disciples. The Christ tests the woman, knowing her faith from the beginning, with the fact that He had been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). Her answer wins favor from the Lord as she recognizes that His love is abundant enough to feed to the point of satisfaction even with the scraps and crumbs. *Application* Jesus was not being racist or rude with His statements. He commended her for her faith in the midst of testing and having the insight to see the truth that had come. God’s grace is sufficient when we believe in Him. It extends to everyone even if we may be Gentile and grafted in (Romans 11:17). Give God the glory that He has opened up His Kingdom to all the nations (Genesis 18:18, Psalm 117, Daniel 7:14).
-Jesus, upon His return to Galilee, does many miraculous works before the people. Included in the list were healings of the lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others (Matthew 15:30). They were laid at His feet, and He healed them all, which led to them giving Him great glory as you can imagine. *Application* The wonder-working power of God was manifested publicly for all to see. Large crowds will gather when you step out and rely on His power and authority for your ministry. People will stand in astonishment and give God His proper glory when you do His miraculous works in faith (John 14:12). We can say with the saints of old, “He has done all things well (Mark 7:37)!”
-Jesus feels compassion once again on the throngs of people who have come to be with Him, listening to His wisdom and being healed of every infirmity for three days. Another miracle of multiplication take place, this time with 4,000 men (besides there were also women and children, which probably at least doubled the numbers) and seven baskets were left over in this instance. Just as before, Jesus gave thanks after having the disciples seat them on the ground and He began to simply distribute what they had with seven loaves and a few small fish. *Application* The number seven is always important biblically speaking. It is the number for completion. God can completely provide for our every need when we sell out and abandon everything for Him in faith. These people were unconcerned for their well-being as we can note because they’d gone three full days without sustenance just to be in the presence of this Man of God. How willing are we to go the extra mile and trust that God has compassion on us as well and will take care of our every need sometimes even miraculously? God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Malachi 3:5, Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 1:4, 8). Sharing is multiplication!
Verses to Memorize: Matthew 15:9, 28, 32