Thursday, January 23, 2014

Matthew 15

Last week we learned that Jesus provides for His own in every situation. 

Matthew 15:1-20 - Jesus Condemns Hypocrisy and Defines Uncleanness 

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law wanted to know where Jesus stood on the basic religious traditions.  They asked Him why His disciples broke the tradition of the elders, which was to do a ceremonial washing of their hand before they ate.  Of course the Bible gives no law concerning this.  They were offended that the disciples didn't observe the rigid rituals they had made up.   

Jesus saw their self-righteousness, desires to maintain power, and no love for people.    Jesus turned their question into a challenge for them to examine themselves.  The question was a tradition where the Pharisees had directly contradicted Old Testament teaching of honoring your father and mother.  They were to give their aged parents financial support, but they had dedicated their money to God or the temple.  This was called "Corban" leaving it up to the temple to take care of their aged parents.  This way they washed their hands of any financial support.  Jesus called them "hypocrites" and said that Isaiah's prophesy was right.  "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teaching are but rules taught my men." - Matt. 15:8-9.  They focused on outward cleanliness instead of inward cleanliness.  They put their man-made traditions above the teachings of Scripture. 

Are you religious, but not truly worshipping God?
Do you twist the Scripture to suit your circumstances?
How are you a hypocrite about God and religion?

Then Jesus turned to the people to explain true defilement.  He said, "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." - Matt. 15:11.  Peter did not understand and Jesus called him, dull, which means "do you still not understand".  So Jesus explains.  "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 came 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." - Matt. 15:19-20.  To eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.  It's all about what's in your heart.  

Principle:  God's Word is more important that mankind's traditions. 

Is your heart clean?
Have you confessed your unclean things to God?
Do your words show others you are a follower of Jesus? 

Matthew 15:21-28 - Jesus Heals The Canaanite Woman's Daughter 

The disciples warned Jesus that He had offended the Pharisees and there could be consequences.  So Jesus took them outside the boundaries of Israel.  Probably because of danger from the Pharisees and also they needed to be alone in a quiet place so He could teach without interruption from the crowds.  They went to the region of Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile country. 

A Canaanite woman approached Jesus crying and pleading with Him to have mercy on her and her daughter who was suffering from demon-possession.  She called Jesus "Lord, Son of David".  Jesus didn't answer her.  This wasn't because He wasn't interested in her, but because He knew that His silence would lead her to a greater faith.  He said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." - Matt. 15:24.  I am sure He spoke with gentleness to her telling her His ministry was confined to Jews.  Then the woman knelt in humility before Him and called Him "Lord" again.  She was persistent and Jesus said "Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted." - Matt. 15:28.  Jesus gave her much more than she asked for.  He awoke in her great faith giving her a deeper relationship with Him as well as healed her daughter. 

God's purpose was that the gospel should first be presented to the Jews and then to the world.  It was only after the cross that the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were the Jews able and equipped to give the gospel to the world.  Then at that time the world would be prepared to receive it. 

Are you persistent in your prayer to God?
What rewards have you receive from persistent prayer?
How can you show Jesus that you have faith in Him?
God rewards those who seek Him.
God usually has more for us than what's on the surface. 

Matthew 15:29-39 - Jesus Feeds the 4,000 

Jesus left and went along the Sea of Galilee and then up on a mountain.  Again great crowds of people came to Him with their sick for healing.  He healed the lame, the blind, the cripple, the mute.  This is a picture of eternity - no more sickness.  We will have perfect bodies.  

The people were with Jesus for three days and were hungry.  Jesus had compassion on them and again He provided food for them as He did the 5,000 in chapter 14.  There were really more than 4,000, if you include the women and children.  There were probably about 15,000 total.  Here are the differences between the two events:
they were to sit on grass in groups of  50
there were 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread
there were 12 baskets of leftovers
they were mostly Jews
they were 1 day without food
they were to sit on ground
there were a few fish and 7 loaves of bread
there were 7 baskets of leftovers
there were more Gentiles than Jews
there were 3 days without food 

There are lessons to learn from these two miracles:  God 's always aware of our needs.  He always provides.  He desires to feed us and then for us to feed others.  There is nothing impossible for God.  We should give thanks to God as Jesus did.  Jesus is the Bread of Life for the world. 

Are you sharing with Him the feeding of others?
Will you ask God to show you how to help others know Him?

Principle:  Jesus is the Bread of Life for the world. 

This chapter teaches many lessons.  It shows Jesus' compassion for those in need.  He sees our hearts and never turns anyone away.  It teaches us that our motives comes out of our thinking and what is in our heart is either clean or unclean.  One example of being unclean is gossip.  It comes out as being judgmental.  We need to humbly and earnestly seek Him and worship Him before we ask Him for something. 

Hope to see you next week for Chapter 16.

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