Matthew 15:1 “…Pharisees who were from Jerusalem…”
He can’t get away from the rascals. Not content to cause trouble in Jerusalem, these had to travel up to Capernaum to harass Jesus. Commentary mentioned that their presence in the synagogues in Capernaum and surrounding areas may have been why Jesus changed His method of teaching, from preaching plainly to using parables. Makes sense.
2 “…transgress the tradition of the elders…”
Not concerned with real and significant matters, the thing they bring up is violation of man’s traditions. Sound like lawyers. Not interested in the truth, but in finding a violation of a technicality one way or another.
3 “…Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition”
They had gone beyond simply worrying about insignificant things. They had advanced into exchanging their traditions for the actual commandments of God. In the instance Jesus mentioned, they said as long as a person gave money to the temple or service of God, they didn’t have to financially support their parents or honor their father and mother. They had created an exception to one of the original ten commandments. Sounds extremely dangerous to me.
9 “…Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”
Very dangerous place to be. When we forsake the Bible and what it says and instead concern ourselves with doctrines of our own making, we put ourselves in the place of or above God. Nothing good will ever come of that. The Bible does teach doctrine, but it always abides with the commandments. Our interpretations of it may differ, but we must be wise to rightly divide the Word and know the difference.
11 “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
He will have to explain this to them a few verses later. But He was trying to get them to pay attention to what was happening, then listen to what He was saying. Pharisees were concerned with hand washing, but not about the evil within their hearts. One could be the cause of temporary sickness, the other could put you into Hell. Priorities.
14 “Let them alone…”
I guess it wasn’t a bad thing that the disciples were concerned about what the Pharisees thought. After all, the Pharisees were supposed to be the spiritual leaders and teachers of the nation. Everyone else had been taught to follow what they said because it was believed they could be trusted to tell the truth about God and His desires for the people. This is why truth and integrity among those who are teachers is so vitally important. As James mentioned, they will receive the greater judgment. Unfortunately, these had allowed their own evil desires to override what they knew the scriptures said. As Jesus said, they were blind leaders of the blind. He was now having to teach His followers to go beyond the fact that they were Pharisees and to truly listen to what was being taught. If it was contrary to what God said then they should ignore it and go with God.
16 “…Are you also still without understanding”
Can’t blame Jesus for being frustrated. Appears the disciples are still in the mode of just hearing words. They aren’t trying to understand what is being said. It’s like reading words on a page, but never trying to understand what the author is trying to convey. I see this in denominations who get hung up on words and phrases without seeing the context. Reminds me of the Japanese shipping officials who saw the term cowhide belt on a manifest so they emptied the container looking for the cows.
21 “…the region of Tyre and Sidon”
Northwestern area of the country. Tyre and Sidon were nation cities outside of Israel, but their land area was within what God had promised to Abraham. Commentary suggested the distance from Capernaum to Tyre may be covered with one day of active walking.
22 “…a woman of Canaan…”
A gentile woman.
22 “…Son of David…”
She knew who the Messiah was supposed to be and used that term to refer to Jesus.
23-24 “…He answered her not a word…I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”
This seems harsh coming from Jesus. A woman in need, seemingly being ignored. One commentary suggests two options of interpretation. The first is the one I have heard and which it said is probably followed by most, that being that Jesus only said this to give her an opportunity to display her faith and to teach His disciples. This view rests heavily on His divinity, that He knew what she was thinking and wanted to help her. The other takes a different view of Jesus. It rests on His humanity and His choice to fulfill the mission for which He came, to share the good news with the house of Israel. Jesus refused to do certain things using the reason that it wasn’t the proper time. Commentary suggests that was what transpired here. He wasn’t ready for the message to go fully to the Gentiles, although that didn’t stop Him from dealing with Gentiles within Israel as He did with the Roman Centurion. However, once the woman persisted and showed her great faith, He chose to address her and granted her request. This in no way suggests that Jesus was fickle or uncaring from the beginning, nor that He had to be bothered to the point of frustration before He would act. But it does prevent us from trying to neatly place Him within a box of preferred action and method. I agree with the commentary that we must not forget Jesus’s divinity and humanity equally. His human actions were never sinful, but they were a part of how He operated.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.