St Matthew 15 Reflections

The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 15: Read Here:

15 unwashen hands

Clean hands do not always signify a pure heart.

The scribes and Pharisees continued to look for occasion against Jesus. Any little thing that they could dig up, they’d jump at the chance, hoping to discredit Him in any way possible.

Characteristic of Jesus, He answered their questions with a question. This is particularly fitting, because they would do everyone more good by improving themselves, not finding fault with others.

They asked Jesus,

“Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (Matt 15:2).

‘But He answered and said unto them,

“Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightiest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be fee, Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition”’ (vs. 3-6).

At this point He says,

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men’” (vs. 7-9).

The scribes and Pharisees had changed His law, which He had given to Moses, to fit their own justifications.

Then Jesus spoke to the multitude, or again Jesus is inviting us,

“Hear, and understand” (vs. 10).

He wants to give us the opportunity to know His words and live by the Spirit, instead of following worldly fashions of thought and the doctrines of men.

“Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth this defileth a man” (vs. 10-11).

His disciples said to Him,

“Knowest thou that the Pharisees are offended, after they heard this saying” (vs. 12)?

He answered,

“Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (vs. 13-14).

Further notes: Jesus’s answer is of interest here. Are we too often worried over offending men more than we are over offending God? Jesus was only concerned about doing His Heavenly Father’s will and speaking His words, not over whether the Pharisees were offended when He spoke the truth to them.

How about when He says, “Let them alone?” He had just said that every plant not planted by His Father should be rooted up. Jesus’s mission was to offer all of us salvation, and yet He said, “Let them alone.” One of the greatest treasures that our Father has ever given us is that of agency or freewill. We will never be forced to follow Jesus, but whether we want to believe He is the Way or not, the fact remain that He is the only Way back to our heavenly home and to our Father. We have been given the choice to follow. The Pharisees, more than anyone, had studied the law and the prophecies, yet they remained blind. They chose to be moved by offense and anger rather than to allow the Spirit to work within them.

Again the analogy of a plant. Jesus had already told the parables of “The Sower of the Seed” and “The Wheat and the Tares.” How then are we planted by His Father? We all are given that chance, but it is our own choices that determine whether we become planted in the truth or not. We need to nourish the word and be believing and do those things which Jesus gave us example in doing. When we consider “How blind are those who will not see?” we must remember to look to the Spirit speaking to our spirit before we unwittingly follow blind guides.

When Peter asked Jesus to explain this parable, Jesus asked,

“Are ye also yet without understanding” (vs. 16)?

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in a the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (vs. 17-20).

Further Thought: We could also ask ourselves,

“Do not ye yet understand?”

We need to learn to be far less judging of practices that show differences in culture or upbringing or even class distinction, and we need to care more about the things of God and loving Him and our neighbor than we care about our own self-importance.

“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon” (vs. 21).

There a Canaanite woman cried out to Jesus,

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil” (vs. 22).

Yet Jesus did not respond to her. He told his disciples,

“I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of Israel” (vs. 24).

‘Then came she and worshipped him, saying,

“Lord, help me.”

‘But He answered and said,

“It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”

‘And she said,

“Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

‘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”’(vs. 25-28).

Further thoughts: Jesus’s mortal ministry was first to The House of Israel and the lost sheep from that house; but, His infinite ministry is unto all those who have faith in Him. He does not, nor did he then, love any of us less than any other; but, He was sent to do His Father’s will, and He also had to work within the boundaries of the mission His Father called Him into.

This woman’s faith and humility were so great, and she was so believing and persistent, that Jesus healed her daughter according to her faith.

He can do the same for us.

Jesus returned again to a mountain which was near the sea of Galilee. He was not alone there long before “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: 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 (vs. 30-31).

Jesus had compassion on the multitude who had been with Him for three days without food to eat. He told His disciples,

“I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way” (vs. 32).

‘And his disciples say unto him,

“When should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?”

‘And Jesus saith unto them,

“How many loaves have ye?”

‘And they said,

“Seven, and a few little fishes.”

‘And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 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, and they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, besides women and children’ (vs. 33-38).

Further thought: Would we be like His apostles? Would we be surprised every time at the miracles? I think so.

Afterwards, “He sent away the multitudes, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala” (vs. 39).


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