Friday, January 21, 2022

25 Observations from Matthew 15

 Matthew 15 is not easy. These thoughts are starters, but most require more digging.


  1. These scribes and Pharisees are from Jerusalem. They are the heavy hitters trying to assess how much of a threat Jesus actually is.
  2. Not only can tradition not save, it often causes us to drift further from God.
  3. Religious traditions are usually an effort to create or preserve the life we want. Traditions serve us but rarely do they serve God.
  4. The Pharisees had used tradition to create a loophole by which they could shirk their responsibility to care for their parents.
  5. Throughout history, religious groups have existed that exhibit fervent external worship but whose hearts have not been changed at all.
  6. Remember, man looks on the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)
  7. Beware of worship that sounds, looks, and feels powerful, but which is only an external expression. (Amos 5)
  8. The Pharisees claimed to be clean because they only ate “clean food” and they ceremonially washed before eating it.
  9. The Pharisees thought the disciples were unclean because they were eating clean food with unclean hands.
  10. Jesus made it clear that cleanliness before God has nothing to do with the food we eat or the hands with which we eat it.
  11. What goes into the mouth is physical but what comes out of the mouth is spiritual.
  12. In verse 13, Jesus references the truths told in chapter 13’s parables. Not all plants are good plants. Let God sort them out.
  13. How do you know if your guides are blind? If the fruit of their heart does not match the actions of their tradition.
  14. Verses 17-20 are a summary/remix of the sermon on the mount. 
  15. Guard your heart, for from it flows everything (Proverbs 4:23)
  16. It’s worth noting that Jesus lists “evil thoughts” and “slander” in the same category as murder.
  17. By including the story of the Canaanite women, Matthew is building the case that Gentiles were, in many ways, more receptive to Christ than the Jewish people were.
  18. Having just confronted the Pharisees about unclean food, Jesus now has a conversation with an unclean person.
  19. This woman had every reason to lose her faith, but she didn’t. Jesus was silent when she prayed. She was mistreated by Jesus’ followers. She felt like she didn’t fit in.
  20. Jesus wanted everyone to know that she was a Gentile, so he emphasized it several times.
  21. The woman’s appeal to Jesus is not based on who she is or what she has done, but rather on who He is and what He can do.
  22. In verse 27, the woman is actually referencing an idea that has always been true. Even in the OT, there was room within the Jewish community for outsiders if they were willing to take the prescribed steps of assimilation.
  23. Crumbs from Jesus are better than a feast from anyone else.
  24. Jesus’ healing of many as well as his second feeding both illustrate an important point: There is plenty of Jesus to go around.
  25. This feeding is a second feeding as Jesus will reference both of them together in the next chapter.

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