The Gospels in 40 days Matthew 15

Matthew 15

Clean and Unclean: I remember being told when I was young that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” As good as cleanliness is, washing your hands before dinner is not a law of God. (If it is a law of your mother, however, it is best to obey!

The Pharisees mistook their traditions for Scriptural truth. At the same time they piously allow the offering of a gift to God to substitute for the command to care for your parents (Honour thy mother and father is about more than being well behaved as toddlers.) This hypocrisy – insisting on their traditions, even when their traditions justified breaking real commands shows that their hearts are proud, and far from God.

Then Jesus (who, with His Father and the Holy Spirit) is the author of the Old Testament commands puts ‘clean and unclean into perspective: The worst uncleanness is what comes out of your mouth – the wicked, hateful and false words we speak. These unclean words come from nastiness in our core.

We know this – and while we work with God to clean our hearts and minds, we can at least exercise control over what we say. It’s a good start, and will spare your friends and enemies a lot of grief.

Jesus is not concerned that the Pharisees are upset with him. Teaching falsely about God, as these Pharisees were doing is the worst breach of the command “Do not use the Name of the Lord your God in vain. Teaching, “God says this” or God didn’t mean that” when the statement is false is truly using the name of God in vain.  Would you mind praying for all those who teach God’s Word, that we would be faithful in our teaching?

Faith of the Canaanite Woman: Believe it or not this is one of my favourite stories. They are outside of Israel, in the region of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus seems to be cruel to this desperate woman, insulting her as a dog. But the woman is so sure that Jesus is her only hope that she doesn’t storm away in anger, instead she pleads, quite wittily, for her daughter. I think Jesus knew she would show such faith and self control: so he was able to heal her daughter and demonstrate pointedly to his disciples that true faith and God’s love extended beyond Israel. Matthew has a way of pointing to the fact that the Gospel is for all nations.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand: Jesus has compassion on another crowd. Did he walk around to the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee? The crowd was “praising the God of Israel.” Why would Matthew specify that if Jesus was in Israel at the time? At any rate, this crowd didn’t need another sign, but they did need food. With seven loaves and a few small fish he fed them all, and had 7 baskets left over. Remember the temptation to turn stones to bread? Jesus has no problem making food when His heavenly Father is the one directing him.

Lord, Feed us with your food, which is the word you speak. You feed our minds and hearts and souls with truth and grace. Feed the world, O Bread of Life, with the word of the Gospel, and the works of compassion which you equip your people to do.