Matthew 15:1-39 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Woman You Have Great Faith
Comments for Study 20

Matthew 15:1-39
Memory Verse: 28


I. Ritualistic Jews (1-20)

>1. Why did the Pharisees criticize Jesus' disciples? (1-2) What was probably the original motive behind the hand washing ceremony? What is the difference between tradition and God's commands?

Matthew 15:1-2 "Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat?'"

* "Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem" -Pharisees and teachers of the law were all over the Jewish occupied world in Jesus' days. These particular ones were from Jerusalem, the seat of Judaism. Which means not only had the news of what Jesus was doing spread as far as Jerusalem (It should be noted that Jesus probably had been to Jerusalem twice before this event. But on those short visits he did little there to gain these men's attention.), but it had grown the attention to the leading Pharisees and teachers of the law.

However, these leaders of Judaism did not come to learn from Jesus. Rather, they came to judge him. They came to see if he was a man of God (like them, from their point of view). However, it should be noted that the Pharisees had already judged him as neither for he had not come from Jerusalem.

* "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?" -The Pharisees charge against Jesus, via his disciples life style, was a small one. The charge was braking a tradition, not breaking the law of God. This shows that Jesus (and the disciples) led a good life before men and the law of God (Moses). The Pharisees and teachers of the law could find no law of God broken, only the tradition of the elders.

Traditions are established by men and passed down from one generation to another. In this case the tradition was a custom of religion. Traditions are acts done that has little meaning and significant in normal life, but eventually are made to have great meaning and are held ritualistically. Thus, after several repeating, and especially after several generations of carry it on, traditions have little benefit, but are given a lot of weight. In the end traditions focused the attention on men, not on God. They even because a form of religion, rather then true religion.

The Pharisees called many things like this washing, "a tradition of the elders". They called it "a tradition of the elders because the elders of the community kept them. In those days elders were shown great respect and held honor. Thus, traditions that the elders kept were important and held as good acts. But Jesus called it "their tradition", as to say it had little wait and importance in the eyes of God. Their traditions were even hindering the spread of the truth.

God's commands are different than a tradition. They are established by God as well as passed down from one generation to another. They have great meaning and significance. There is a definite spirit behind them that teaches something about God and about man. They are from God. They have great benefit spiritually. Often also they have physically and mentally benefits as well. The laws of God are the fundamentals of like and are true religion when they are obeyed.

Why is it that humans hang on to traditions rather than the laws of God? Generally, because traditions don't require conviction. A tradition can be kept easily. Traditions often don't require faith. Also, traditions are laid down by men. Thus, they often do not deal with man's fundamental problems and sinful habits.. Many doen't even deal with man's problems and sin at all. Instead, they "work around" and even edify the problems and sins

* "They don't wash their hands before they eat." -Historians shows that this tradition started at the time of their captivity under the Babylonians. Several reasons could be the start of this tradition. Perhaps the Pharisees thought that meat touched with "unclean" hands would make them "unclean" before God. After all God did teach in the law of Moses about "clean" and "unclean" food. The "clean" food the Israelite's could eat. The "unclean" food they could not eat.

Or perhaps this tradition symbolized cleansing before God. Or it may have even been a way help to them keep their identity as God's people in a strange land. Whatever the reason, by Jesus' time the meaning was lost. What became more important was to keep it.

As time went on, this tradition (and many more traditions) lost their meaning. Instead of helping people think about God, these traditions brought pride and fired their selfish motives. For the Pharisees these tradition made them appeared to have zeal for the law and God and thus gained them social esteem. These traditions also helped them hold up and support their own tyranny over the conscience of men. When people broke their "traditions of the elders", like in Jesus' disciples case, they would use it to condemn. Thus, their authority over the person was won.

>2. According to Jesus, what was the Pharisees' sin? (3) What example did he give? (4-6) How did Isaiah describe their hypocrisy? (7-9)

Matthew 15:3 "Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?'"

* Jesus didn't answer their question. Why? Because it was irrelevant and unimportant. He did, however, indirectly answer their question by pointing out what was really important was the laws of God. He even pointed out that the traditions of the elder did not matter much at all to God. Jesus did away with the traditions of the elders. In Acts the church decided that the Gentiles did not need to keep the Jewish laws. Not even their most important one, circumcision.

In the life of the Pharisees the tradition of the elders held as much weight as the laws of God. And to some, the tradition became more important then the law of God.

Jesus pointed out that their traditions caused them to break the law of God. This was a greater offense then what the disciples did. Therefore, the Pharisees wanted to pick a speck (a small offense, a tradition) out of the disciples' eyes, while they had a log (a big offense, a law of God) in their own eye.

Matthew 15:4-6 "'For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father and mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God, he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.'"

* "Honor you father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' -These two are commands of God. Jesus here is expanding on them by using the Pharisees and teacher of the laws tradition. Thus, Jesus says that maintaining one's parents is equal to and part of honoring them.

* "But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God" -In Mark 7 this law is called "Corbin". To paraphrase its meaning, "the Pharisees were saying, 'If a man gave his estate or big gift to the priests and/or to the temple in the name of God, which caused a big inconvenience, then that person was no longer obligated to help their parents.'"

* "Thus you notify the word of God for the sake of your tradition" -Jesus implied that this tradition of the elders was actually from a coveting and selfish desire of the leaders of Israel and in the end, the human authority that sets itself up against God's authority must never be submitted to.

Matthew 15:7-9 "'You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"

* "You hypocrites!" -Jesus spoke harshly to them only because they were suppose to know and teach the truth, but they did not. They were big influences to the people, but their influence was all bad, not of God.

Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "Pretense to being what one really is not, especially the pretense of being a better person than one really is. The word is based on the Greek hypokrisis, originally meaning to give an answer. A hypocrite in classical Greek could be an interpreter of dreams, an orator, a reciter of poetry, or an actor. Originally a neutral term, hypocrite gained the negative connotation of pretense, duplicity, or insincerity. In the Bible the negative meaning prevails. Often hypocrisy refers to evil or sin in general, not pretense in particular."

All hypocrites will go to hell unless they find the saving grace of Jesus. All of the followers of hypocrites will also go to hell if they don't find the saving grace of Jesus. All humans are hypocrites in one way or another, and at one time or another.

* "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you" - Isaiah's generation was like Jesus'. That is why these words first came to them and remained active in Jesus' days. All generations has people like this. But not all generations can be described like this as a general

* "They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men" - A hypocrite is described as two things here: 1) They perform religious activities and talk of God in vain, that is on the outside as a show; 2) They teach rules and teachings of men not God.

In his heart a hypocrite has no serious thought of God as God is and as he is a person before God.

>3. What did Jesus tell the crowds about what makes one unclean? (10-11) Why were the disciples concerned about offending the Pharisees? (12) What did Jesus tell them about the Pharisees? (13-14)

Matthew 15:10-11 "Jesus called the crowd to him and said, 'Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"

* "Jesus called the crowd to him"- This seems to indicate that when the Pharisees were around either the people moved away or were "shoved" away. Yet, Jesus spoke to this crowd because the simple crowd were better than the learned Pharisees. Why? Because they were willing to listen with open ears. When Jesus talks to us he wants us to "listen and understand."

Matthew 15:12 "Then the disciples came to him and asked, 'Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?'"

* "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" -The truth was what offended the Pharisees, not Jesus. He was only the messenger of the truth. Yet, some might say that the disciples thought that it was the way that Jesus addressed them that offend them. They thought that if Jesus knew how provoking his words and actions were, then he would not have said what he did. In short, the disciples were saying Jesus wasn't being gentle or graceful enough and perhaps he shouldn't have said it at all.

The weak disciples didn't want to offend the wicked hearers to much. They also didn't want to offend the religious leaders of Israel, because they were a symbol of Israel itself. Thus, the disciples would have been willing to compromise the truth and lead the people to believe that the Pharisees were right.

It is interesting to note that the disciples said that the Pharisees only were offended. However they did not say that the teachers of the law were offended. This is probably because the different duties of each. The teachers of the law taught. Whereas the Pharisees lead a life style under the law of God as well as their traditions.

Note that Jesus was defending his disciples actions when he rebuked the Pharisees. Yet the disciples said, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?". Why would they question Jesus like this when he defended them? Perhaps because they felt that the Pharisees were a little right, and besides the disciples offense wouldn't have been to hard for the disciples to correct.

This is a small offense and easy to correct to satisfy the Pharisees. Still, even thought the offense was small, Jesus seems to believe the principle was a very big issue. Thus he addressed it openly and harshly. Why? Traditions meant a lot to the Jews. Even Peter in Acts had a hard time accepting Jesus' way over the Jewish traditions.

Matthew 15:13-14 "He replied, 'Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.'"

* What is corrupt is permitted by God but not planted by him. Jesus was saying, "Leave them alone." Sometimes this is what we are to do. In this case, the Pharisees were blinded by their pride, or in the case of the prodigal son, but in each they are to be left alone for God to work in them. God pulled up not only the Pharisees of Jesus day but also their teachings.

>4. How did Jesus explain to his disciples when they asked? (15-16) Why do rituals not make a person clean? (17-20)

Matthew 15:15-16 "Peter said, 'Explain the parable to us.' 'Are you still so dull?' Jesus asked them."

* In looking at Jesus' words in verse 11 they seem quit clear. It is very evident that they are not a parable. Yet, Peter called them a parable. Why? They could have been that dull. Or perhaps their thinking that Jesus was wrong, that is not graceful enough, made it hard for them to listen to him and accept his words. They might also have said, "Jesus can't mean what he seems to be saying. He must be saying something else."

On the other hand it is good that the disciples came to him with their problems and their lack of understanding. Why? Because we have much to think about and apply them and learn them.

* "'Are you so dull?'" -Jesus expects us to know and understand more the longer time we are opened to his teachings. Hebrews 5:12 says, "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!"

Matthew 15:17-20 "'Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'"

* "enters...come out" -Sin is not from anything that comes into the body. Sin is what comes out of the body. This does not say that what goes in does not influence us. Nor does it say that what influences us can not be the tipper of the moral and ethical level in us, and thus we sin. Yet, what Jesus says is clear, "What enters the body is not sin. What is sin, is our actions."

This is why something can cause one person to sin, while another is not affected by it. For example, Jesus was exposed to the same things that all men are, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." So, what we are exposed to, that is what comes into the body, is not sin. Those things can tempt us to sin. But they are not sin.

* "stomach" -Through these words, Jesus abolished the dietary laws and traditions.

* "heart" -Here the heart is used to describe the seat of ones affection. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, "But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." In Matthew 12:33 Jesus said, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit." And Paul wrote in Romans 2:14-16, "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."

Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "Closely related to the mind are acts of the will, acts resulting from a conscious or even a deliberate decision. Thus, 2 Cor. 9:7: “Every man according to as he purposed in his heart, so let him give.” Ananias contrived his deed of lying to the Holy Spirit in his heart (Acts 5:4). The conscious decision is made in the heart (Romans 6:17). Connected to the will are human wishes and desires. Romans 1:24 describes how God gave them up through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies.” David was a man after God's own heart because he would fulfill all of God's will (Acts 13:22)."

* "For out of the heart come evil thoughts" -This seems to imply that the heart and the mind are separate things but interact and influence each other. Evil heart produces evil thoughts. Evil thoughts produce outward sin. (Micah 2:1) Murders and wars are in the heart. (Psalm 55:21) We should avoid all the above. Most importantly we should pray that God change our hearts.

Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "Because the heart is at the root of the problem, this is the place where God does His work in the individual. For instance, the work of the law is written in their hearts,” and conscience is the proof of this (Romans 2:15). The heart is the field where seed (the Word of God) is sown (Matthew 13:19; Luke 8:15). In addition to being the place where the natural laws of God are written, the heart is the place of renewal. Before Saul became king, God gave him a new heart (1 Samuel 10:9). God promised Israel that He would give them a new spirit within, take away their stony heart and give them a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Paul said that a person must believe in the heart to be saved, for with the heart man believes unto righteousness (Romans 10:10). (See also Mark 11:23; Hebrews 3:12.)"

* "but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean'" -Rituals do not make people clean. This is because they are acts only on the outside of a person. The heart is what matters to God. Only God can clean the heart.

II. The Great Faith of a Gentile Woman (21-28)

>5. To where did Jesus withdraw? (21) How did the Canaanite woman address Jesus? (22) What did she want? (22b) How did Jesus respond to her? (23) Why?

Matthew 15:21 "Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon."

* "Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon" -One could call this period of Jesus' ministry, "The Mid-Ministry Travels of Jesus". See the map showing the mid-ministry travels of Jesus.

These travels of Jesus were thru Gentile regions. Jesus stayed in Gentile territories for several reasons. First, and foremost, because on this journey Jesus wanted to teach his disciples much, without the hindrances of the great crowds that gathered while they were in Jewish territories, and without the hindrances of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.

This journey must have taken a lot of time, several months. Yet, little is recorded of these events. John and Luke records almost nothing about this time. Why? I do not know, unless of course Jesus teachings were just expounds on what the authors record throughout the gospels and what the letters of Paul deals with. After all, many times when the disciples asked things about Jesus parables, it does not mean that they asked him their questions at the times he taught the parables.

A second reason why Jesus stayed in the Gentiles regions was because he and his disciples needed a rest.

* "Tyre and Sidon" -Two cities on the Mediterranean Sea, both north west of Galilee. Thus the gospel was taken, for awhile, from the Jews and brought to the Gentiles.

>6. What did the disciples ask Jesus to do? (23b) Why? How did Jesus answer their request? (24) What did he mean by saying that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel? (24)

>7. Did the woman qualify humanly to receive Jesus' help? (22a) How did she react to Jesus' words? (25) How did Jesus respond? (26) How did she answer when he implied that she was a dog? (27)

Matthew 15:22 "A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.'"

* "A Canaanite woman from that vicinity" -This woman was a native of gentile region between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, what today is called Palestine. Canaan was the land that extended beyond the normal borders of Israel, yet did not include land east of the Jordan. At times the land of Canaanites and land of Amorites are identical. Whatever the land was called, it exercised extraordinary influence as the land bridge between Mesopotamia and Egypt and between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "The Biblical genealogical references are not particularly helpful in clarifying our understanding of Canaan. According to Genesis 9:18 and 10:6, Canaan was a son of Ham, one of the three sons of Noah. Genesis 10:15-20 clarifies the implications of this Hamitic descent in the sons of Canaan: Sidon, Heth, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgasites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, and Zemarites, and the Hamathites. All of these peoples are characterized by being generally within the Egyptian sphere of influence..." These peoples worshipped a pantheon of God's throughout the ages.

"...During the Omrid Dynasty, Ahab (869-850 B.C.) married Jezebel, a princess from Tyre, as a sign of the diplomatic relationship between Israel and Tyre. Jezebel brought the clearest infusion of Baalism into Israel." (Israel referring to the northern tribe, after the split of Israel, after Solomon's death.) Jezebel's influence, as well as other influences of Canaanite religion and culture before her, lead to the downfall and end of true worship from the people of God in northern Israel. These people of Abraham, of the covenant of God given in the desert, melded with the people of Canaan. Therefore, it is likely that this woman was a descendent of Abraham and/or Canaan.

After the flood the records these events of Canaan. Genesis 9:24-25, "When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." Whether or not God carried these words out at that time, if at all is not clear. God after all does not act based on man's words, even a righteous man like Noah.

Judah and Simeon, sons of Jacob, fathered children through Canaanite women. Tamar and Judah were the ancestors of Jesus. Tamar became a women of faith and is listed in Jesus' genenology at the beginning of Matthew's gospel.

However, God's judgment did fall on the land of Canaan where the descendants of Canaan lived. This judgment was to come through the people of Israel during the conquest. Duet. 7:1-2 says, "When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you-- and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy."

Yet the Israelites did not keep this command of God. And so the descendants of Canaan lived until the time of Jesus and the apostles. In spite of all this Jesus still showed favor to this woman.

* "from that vicinity came to him" - In the Gospel of Mark the author says that Jesus stayed in a house. Mark 7:24, "Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret."

* "crying out" -The women was in great distress. A tender parent always feels the agony of their children.

Also, because Jesus was in a house trying to keep his presence secret, the owners and perhaps even the disciples, might have kept her out of the house. So to get to Jesus she had to cry out and cry out.

* "Lord, Son of David" -The Canaanite women called Jesus by a title used for the Messiah. In relation to her revelation about Jesus, this women had great faith.

* "have mercy on me!" -She asked for Jesus help based on mercy, not merit.

* "My daughter is suffering terribly from..." -The duty of parents is to pray for their children.

* "demon-possession" -Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "The control of an individuals personality so that actions are influenced by an evil demonic spirit...Most of the New Testament references to demon possession...represent the outburst of satanic opposition to God’s work in Christ."

Matthew 15:23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

* "Jesus did not answer a word." -The author does not comment why Jesus didn't answer. Perhaps, it was to test the woman's faith or so she would be more earnest in her prayer. On the same thought, perhaps Jesus wanted her to accept her humble state for what it was, and thus to better learn the grace of God.

Perhaps, it was to see what his disciples would do. Or perhaps it was as he seemed to indicate when he next said to her, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

At times it appears that Jesus does not answer our prayers. We thus come to think that he does not hear us. But this is not the case. Jesus always hears the prayers of the believers. Just because he hears our prayers, does not mean that he will answer them right away. Jesus is not an answering machine where we submit a request and thus get an answer. There are several reasons why God doesn't answer our prayers. My answer to this case is below.

* "Send her away" -This seems to be a common request of the disciples. They could have meant, with or without casting out the demons. Perhaps, because of Jesus' reply to him, they meant, "Heal her, then send her away." However, since the author did not write this, it is unlikely. What the author seems to point out is that the disciples, like most of us, didn't like their quiet time being interrupted. Humans like to live in their quiet, comfort zone.

Matthew 15:24 "He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.'"

* "He answered" -Jesus acknowledged the disciples request. However, did not agree with it, nor with the reasoning behind it. Thus, this was the last that they spoke in this event. They accepted Jesus request, while the woman didn't. They must have been glad with Jesus comment.

Jesus seemingly answered harshly, even rudely. This is the only place in the gospels that Jesus talked this way. In spite of these words, it is important to note that Jesus did not send her away, as the disciples wanted. Instead, he gave these words to ponder. Why then, did he say these words? What was his intent?

Perhaps to teach the important lesson to this woman, and his disciples, that he would one day sit on the throne of David, the King of Israel. Thus, his place was not just healing and dispell evil spirits, but to rule as the King.

Also it is quit likely that Jesus was challenging her faith by saying these words. A answer of faith and humility would increase and witness to her faith in him. Jesus knows what is in each persons heart. In Genesis 22 the Lord came to Abraham with questions and comments directed to enhance Abraham's faith. In that case, as in this, the Lord did not directly tell his point. H.A. Ironside wrote, "It was a hard saying, but it was meant to reveal the true attitude of her soul."

Finally, perhaps these words were said because of the region Jesus was in. A gentile from that region often valued wit in a person's words. Indeed many of the Gentiles, including the Greek's appreciated wit. A comment like Jesus' bided for a witty answer in return. Thus, Jesus was being witty as the people in the area.

* "I was sent only" -Why? Not only because of what I wrote above about Jesus being the King of Israel, but also because as Romans 15:8 says, "For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs"

Peter, when addressing the Jews on the first Penticost said in Acts 3:26, "When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." Thus, the Jews were first, but the Gentiles were not excluded forever and absolutely. Instead, their time would come. The following verses show God's grace would come to the Gentiles in God's time.

Acts 13:46, "Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles."

Acts 18:6, "But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."

Acts 22:21, "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"

Acts 26:23, "that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."

Romans 11:11, "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious."

* "the lost sheep of Israel" -Above, I wrote, "it is likely that this woman was a descendent of Abraham and/or Canaan." Here, Jesus seemed to be saying that this women is not a lost sheep of Israel. However, he did not say that. He didn't even say that she was a lost sheep. He only said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." This is a statement, not necessarily addressed about here. Perhaps, it could have been that she was a mixed Canaanite and Israelite. Or, perhaps, as was possible with his earlier statement, Jesus was saying this to help her grow in faith and humility.

Matthew 15:25 "The woman came and knelt before him. 'Lord, help me!' she said."

* "The woman came and knelt before him" -The woman did not give up. Her faith in Jesus was not shaken. Nor was her pride hurt. Nor was her love and compassion for her child small.

* "Lord" -In spite of Jesus' words she still respected Jesus, not only in acts, but words

* "help me" -The woman's prayer was precise, bold, and said in earnest. Her prayer was like Jacob's, who did not let go until he received the blessing.

Matthew 15:26 "He replied, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.'"

* "He replied..." -These words seemed to cut her off from hope. But, because we know the outcome of this event, they did not.

* "children's bread" -The children are Israel's descendants. The bread is the gifts of miracles through the Messiah.

* "dogs" -The Greek word here, "kunarion" (pronounced, koo-nar'-ee-on) means, a puppy. Jesus referred to the Gentiles as dogs, not as a mangy mutt of the alley, but a puppy in the kitchen. Therefore, Jesus was not implying that he rejected the Gentiles. On the contrary, Jesus went against the Jewish tradition of the day and preached to Gentiles. John 4:40-42 says, "So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. [41] And because of his words many more became believers. [42] They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."

Later, Paul referred to the Jews who did not believe in Jesus as dogs. Philip. 3:2-3 says, "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. [3] For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh-- "

>8. What did Jesus say to the woman? (28a) What did he do for her? (28b) What does this event teach us about Jesus' priorities? About his grace?

Matthew 15:27 "'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.'"

* "Yes, Lord," -Many women are sensitive to men's words. But this woman was not. She accepted her unworthiness as said by Jesus, a man. She was humble. She accepted the Jews as the children of God and the Gentiles as the puppy of God, lower than the Jews. Perhaps this woman shows that women of faith are less emotional because they are women of faith.

* "but" -The woman was also positive in spite of Jesus' retort.

* "their masters' table" -The woman claimed that Jesus, as God, was the Gentiles master.

Matthew 15:28 "Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour."

* "Woman, you have great faith!" -This is high praise from Jesus. Jesus said this about very few people. The disciples must have been very surprised.

* "And her daughter was healed from that very hour" -Jesus promised that he would answer all prayers. Of course as shown here, those prayers must be said in humble faith.

From this, Jesus showed that he first came to the Jews, but that the Gentiles would be accepted if they came to him in persistent faith and humility.

>9. What can we learn from her about faith? About prayer? (22, 25, 27)

III. Jesus Feeds the 4,000 (29-39)

>10. What previous event does this remind us of? (John 14:14) What kind of crowd was this one? (30) Why did they praise the God of Israel? (29-31)

Matthew 15:29-31 "Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled make well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.'"

* "Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee." -My map doesn't show this that well. All I show is Jesus leaving the Mediterranean Sea area and brushing by the Sea of Galilee on his way east, back into Gentile lands. Mark 7:31 seems to be equivalent and says in the area of the Decapolis. This was gentile territory. Jewish leaders didn't go into gentile areas unless they really had to.

* "Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down" -No one knows for sure what mountainside Jesus went up on, nor how long he was up there. Also, Matthew does not say why Jesus went up this mountain. However, Jesus, being God incarnate, knew the people were coming to him. Thus, a mountainside would be a good place to teach them.

* "Great crowds came to him" -Somehow, word got out that Jesus was back in the Galilee area. Perhaps, Jesus had sent the disciple into town to buy food. Perhaps, people in the country side saw him with his band of disciples coming down the road and told others. News can travel fast.. Perhaps, people on the road recognized him and raced into town to get their family and friends. Perhaps, people who attended the flocks saw Jesus and did likewise. However, they found out that Jesus was back in town, people rushed out to see him. The sheep are drawn to the shepherd, especially the desperate.

* "bringing the lame, the blind, the cripple, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet" -To the crowds that came to Jesus at this time, Jesus was a healer. It seems that they weren't too interested to hear what he had to say. From a human perspective it is easy to see why people would rush to Jesus for physical healing over spiritual. The fallen nature often does not recognize our need for spiritual heal. And when people have loved ones who are suffering and/or are in need of physical healing, that is the only thing that often occupies ones mind. Even today many try "miracle cures" and will pay anything to be healed physically, often at the expense of the spiritual need and even eternity.

* "and he healed them" -Jesus' heart of compassion went out to the people. He knew the spiritual need, but did not ignore their physical needs. Isaiah 35:4-6 says, "say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." [5] Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. [6] Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."

* "The people were amazed" -Such compassion and power was never seen before and will not be seen again until Jesus' second coming. Yet, we still can be amazed by the little power and compassion that we see in our every day lives. I amazed by this falls beautiful colors brought on by the Messiah Jesus.

* "And they praised the God of Isreal" -The praise is due God. They knew that it was God working through Jesus. Later, the Jewish leaders would say Jesus acted against God. They failed to acknowledge the people reaction to the God of Isreal in this event.

>11. Compare and contrast the feeding of the 4,000 with the event in Matthew 14:13-21. In what sense is Jesus' training for the disciples even more difficult than before? (32b)

>12. What was the emphasis of Jesus' teaching in verse 32? Can you see any difference in the way Jesus trained the Twelve than before? (Matthew 14:16; 15:32) How did Jesus finally help the twelve to participate in this miracle? (35-37) What is Matthew trying to teach us by repeating seemingly similar events?

Matthew 15:32 "Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."

* Unlike the feeding of the 5,000 this time Jesus told his intentions and of his compassion. Also this time he told the crowd to sit down, the other time he had the disciples organize the people. Jesus commanding 5,000 shows his influence at this time. Another difference was the 5,000 was in Jewish territory and mostly Jews; whereas this time he is in gentile territory and most were gentiles.

* The disciples must have learn some from the earlier feeding. They didn't ask Jesus to send the crowd away. Also before the disciples grew impatent after one day. This time three days had elapsed and the disciples said nothing about the crowd.

* We could conclude that the disciples were normal Jews of the day and thus were uncomfortable with so many gentiles around. So this time Jesus taught them why they should do such things; compassion.

* Jesus had compassion on the people because they had been with him three days and because they were hungry.

* Jesus had been teaching them for three days. Jesus was teaching the disciples that even the gentiles were objects of God's compassion.

Matthew 15:33 "His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"

* Apparently the disciples didn't think Jesus would feed the crowd as he had done before.

Matthew 15:34 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."

* The feeding of the 5,000 says they got the food from a boy. This time they had the food. Also, before it was two fish, now we don't know the amount.

Matthew 15:35-38 "He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children."

* I believe that this is an example of how the nature and workings of Jesus' government during the Millennium.

* Jesus miracles can happen again, and again, and again.

Matthew 15:39 "After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan."

* This time Jesus didn't stay to pray.