Real Issues And The Power Of God

Real Issues And The Power Of God

“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.”
Matthew 15

Traditions

Jerusalem's religious authorities came to Jesus seeking to challenge his teachings and theology. They asked him why he did not follow certain customs, specifically referencing the practice of ceremonial washing before meals. Rather than respond, Jesus accused them of hypocrisy for disregarding God's commandments in favor of their traditions. He referenced Isaiah's words that the external observance of the law was hollow without a sincere heart; the true way to judge others was by one's heart. Jesus labeled them hypocrites for doing so.

Offended

Jesus summoned the crowd and rebuked an external faith without any heart. He demonstrated that it is not what one puts into their mouth that makes them impure, but rather, what comes out of it exposes their heart. His disciples expressed shock at what was said to the Pharisees, yet Jesus didn't respond to their reaction. He labeled the Pharisees as blind instructors whose leadership would ultimately lead people to destruction. Peter went on behalf of the group and asked Jesus to clarify his point to them; instead, Jesus sternly criticized them for their lack of understanding. Jesus repeated that the heart is the essential factor, and it is what makes someone unclean. The heart determines actions.

The King's Crumbs

Jesus was in Tyre and Sidon when a woman approached Him, begging for mercy on her daughter, who was oppressed by a demon. Addressing Jesus as the Lord and the Son of David, she implored Him to help. Initially, Jesus was silent, and when He finally spoke, His words were sharp. His disciples were exasperated by the woman's pleas and wanted to send her away, but her response was unwavering. She replied that even dogs are allowed to eat crumbs from the master's table, demonstrating her faith. Jesus commended her faith and granted her request for healing her daughter.

Continued Compassion

Matthew describes the healings in detail. He made the lame able to walk and the disabled able to be whole. Jesus mended useless limbs and healed smashed limbs; muscles were reconstructed, nerves were revitalized, and bones, ligaments, and tendons all came back together. This is the power of God to heal on full display.

The crowds are relentless, but Jesus is compassionate and wants to feed them. The disciples are puzzled and question, "Where would we find enough bread in such an isolated location to feed everyone?" (15:33). Even though teachers often say you cannot ask a bad question, this one appears to come close. Only a few chapters before, they faced the same issue—a horde of people with no food—and Jesus provided sustenance. The disciples often seem inclined to ignore individuals with needs and make requests, but Jesus does not. Jesus' example is the official guidelines for Jesus' followers and his church: We don't turn away "those people." We take their needs seriously regardless of whether they are irritating or struggling. If it is within our capacity, we help.