Matthew chapter 15

Jesus disregards religious traditions. He says what can defile us. He celebrates a Canaanite woman’s faith, cures many, and feeds more than 4,000 people. [UPDATED]





VERSE 1. Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying,


VERSE 2. “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat bread.”

disobey the tradition of the elders. In those days, they had lots of religious customs.

These customs had been layered into society so deeply that they had almost become a part of life itself. To not comply with those customs was to be an outcast.

In our day, Christians have imposed all sorts of religious customs onto society itself. These customs are ingrained so deeply that, to not comply with them is to become an outcast from Christian culture itself.


VERSE 3. He answered them, “Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?


VERSE 4. For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’


VERSE 5. But you say, ‘Whoever may tell his father or his mother, “Whatever help you might otherwise have gotten from me is a gift devoted to God,”


VERSE 6. he shall not honor his father or mother.’ You have made the commandment of God void because of your tradition.


VERSE 7. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,

hypocrites. This is the first time Jesus used this term to address his opponents directly.


VERSE 8. ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.


VERSE 9. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.’ ”

rules made by men. Older translations say “traditions of men.” That has become a very famous expression. It is a pejorative.

It means that most Christian denominations make up their own rules and traditions. And they tell people those rules and traditions are from God.




VERSE 10. He summoned the multitude, and said to them, “Hear, and understand.


VERSE 11. That which enters into the mouth doesn’t defile the man; but that which proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”


VERSE 12. Then the disciples came, and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”


VERSE 13. But he answered, “Every plant which my heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted.

plant. In those days, that was a common metaphor for righteous Israel.


VERSE 14. Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Leave them alone. Jesus tells them to NOT fight with corrupt religious leaders.

Isaiah 32:3. The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen.


VERSE 15. Peter answered him, “Explain the parable to us.”


VERSE 16. So Jesus said, “Do you also still not understand?


VERSE 17. Don’t you understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the belly, and then out of the body?

out of the body. That is, “goes into the sewer” (NLT translation).


VERSE 18. But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man.


VERSE 19. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies.

This is a list of vices. Such lists were common in those days.

evil thoughts. Evil thoughts are equal in magnitude to murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury and blasphemy. A major priority in life is to get our thought-life under control.

As lovers and disciples of the LORD God, we are called to develop wholesome thinking patterns. We are to renew our mind. Read more »


VERSE 20. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands doesn’t defile the man.”




VERSE 21. Jesus went out from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon.

from there. Probably Gennesaret.


VERSE 22. Behold, a Canaanite woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, you son of David! My daughter is severely possessed by a demon!”

Canaanite. The Bible had used that word for ancient Israel’s pagan enemies. Here it is used to designate a Gentile.


VERSE 23. But he answered her not a word. His disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away; for she cries after us.”


VERSE 24. But he answered, “I wasn’t sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

What was the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ? How did he himself define it? Here are the verses we find in the four gospels »

the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This might mean a sub-group of Israel. Or it might mean all of Israel.


VERSE 25. But she came and worshiped him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

worshiped him. Some people say Jesus was NOT divine.

If so, he would have stopped her from worshipping him. Otherwise, he would have been agreeing to an untruth.


VERSE 26. But he answered, “It is not appropriate to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”


VERSE 27. But she said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

But she said. She persists in her asking.

the dogs. The Greek word is κυνάρια (“kynaria”). It means a little dog, a house dog, a puppy. People used it in an uncomplimentary way, such as for Gentiles or opponents.

This woman uses it to describe herself.


VERSE 28. Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you even as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.




VERSE 29. Jesus departed from there, and came near to the sea of Galilee; and he went up into the mountain, and sat there.

sat there. This is the posture that was taken by a teacher.


VERSE 30. Great multitudes came to him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others, and they put them down at his feet. He healed them,


VERSE 31. so that the multitude wondered when they saw the mute speaking, the injured healed, the lame walking, and the blind seeing—and they glorified the God of Israel.

the God of Israel. The multitude might have been Gentiles. Otherwise the text would not have added “of Israel.”




VERSE 32. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away fasting, or they might faint on the way.”

I have compassion. The leadership of Jesus Christ is characterized by compassion. He has compassion for people.

The presence (or absence) of compassion is a great litmus test of a Christian leader. Is the leader compassionate?


VERSE 33. The disciples said to him, “Where should we get so many loaves in a deserted place as to satisfy so great a multitude?”


VERSE 34. Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.”


VERSE 35. He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground;


VERSE 36. and he took the seven loaves and the fish. He gave thanks and broke them, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.


VERSE 37. They all ate, and were filled. They took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces that were left over.


VERSE 38. Those who ate were four thousand men, in addition to women and children.


VERSE 39. Then he sent away the multitudes, got into the boat, and came into the borders of Magdala.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.