Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Matthew's Gospel Studies|
Chapter: Matthew 15
Passage: Matthew 15:1-11
A. Find Out:
1. Of what did the Pharisees complain? v.1,2
2. What did Jesus say they were doing? v.3
3. What had God said? v.4
4. How had they annulled that? v.5,6
5. How did Jesus say Isaiah described them? v.7-9
6. How did Jesus define what was clean or unclean? v.10,11
1. How were the Pharisees seen to be more concerned with externals?
2. How did Jesus show they missed the heart of the Law?
3. How did Jesus define what really made a person unclean?
The Pharisees focused on outward behaviour and Jesus focused on the inner heart. The Pharisees, note first, were concerned about OUTWARD RITUAL. Unwittingly they gave themselves away when they spoke about the “ tradition of the elders ”. Tradition is a practice that has grown up from long usage, but it is not a law. This was tradition from the men who ruled Judaism, not from God, and they were offended that Jesus was not complying with their expectations. Their rules were concerned to keep a man “clean” by making sure that dirt did not go into him.
Note second, that instead of arguing the point with them Jesus pointed out, instead, that essentially their whole system of rule keeping was flawed. By making more and more minute rules they had in fact lost the very heart of the law of God. He demonstrated this by the way they were not honouring their parents but apparently honouring God instead! Jesus denounces them as those who say they honour God but who, in fact, are far from God. Cleanliness is not about what goes into a person but what comes out of them. A person is unclean on the inside, in the heart, and that is shown by what comes out on the lips.
1. We focus on external, Jesus focuses on the heart.
2. We are worried about the details of doing, but Jesus challenges our
entire outlook and relationship with God.
Chapter: Matthew 15
Passage: Matthew 15:12-20
A. Find Out:
1. What do the disciples tell Jesus? v.12
2. What principle does Jesus state? v.13
3. How does he describe the Pharisees? v.14
4. What did Peter ask and how did Jesus describe him? v.15,16
5. What did Jesus say about food going into the body? v.17,20b
6. What did he say about things coming out of the mouth? v.18-20a
1. What do Jesus' various descriptions of people tell us about him?
2. What had been the problem of the Pharisees?
3. How do the disciples and Peter show themselves?
Today's reading is simply an extension and explanation of yesterday's, so let's first just take note of the teaching that is here: man so often focuses on outward things and worries about how outward things may pollute or make him unclean, e.g. by having contact with certain people or going to certain places. No, says Jesus clearly, it is what is in the heart that matters. All wrong behaviour stems from a wrong heart. Heart condition is all important. Now that is the teaching but the circumstances surrounding the teaching confirms it.
First of all there are the Pharisees whose hearts were polluted and yet gave such a show of “doing the right thing”. Don't bother about them, says Jesus to his disciples, the time will come when God will sort them out and they will bring their own downfall anyway. Then there are the disciples themselves showing a remarkable obtuseness in their inability to understand what is happening and being said. Perhaps we need to realise that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit and therefore they show us “good followers” without the revelation that only the Spirit can bring. Finally note how Jesus speaks. Here is a man known for his compassion and yet look and see how he describes the Pharisees and Peter. He is a speaker of truth!
1. We understand because the Holy Spirit reveals it.
2. Jesus speaks truth to reveal and to correct. Are we open to receive it?
Chapter: Matthew 15
Passage: Matthew 15:21-28
A. Find Out:
1. To where did Jesus go and who came to him? v.21,22a
2. What was she asking and what was Jesus' response? v.22b,23
3. What was his response to his disciples? v.24
4. What was his response to the woman? v.25,26
5. What was her response to Jesus? v.27
6. So what did Jesus say and do? v.28
1. What appeared to be Jesus reasoning for not helping the woman?
2. What do you think might have been a further reason?
3. What does this then teach us?
Jesus has gone to the far north. For what reason? We aren't told. Perhaps specifically to encounter this woman? Anyway, hearing of Jesus being there she comes and pleads for Jesus to help her. Somewhat uncharacteristically, we might think, Jesus seems to completely disregard her pleas. His spoken reasoning is interesting: I have a mission to go to the Jewish people and not beyond them, therefore I will not be pushed beyond my calling, even by need!
A need does not present a calling; there are too many needs, we cannot cover them all, just those that God tells us to go to. Although that may sometimes appear hard, it is nevertheless the truth. Jesus worked according to the leading of his Father (see John 5:19 ), and that only.
But when we see what happened, we may conclude that perhaps Jesus was wanting this woman to push harder. Her answer to him indicates a wisdom and is certainly an act of perseverance. In Mt 7:7 Jesus had said ask (and the verb in the original means “ keep on asking”), seek and keep on seeking, and knock and keep on knocking. This woman is the classic example of this.
1. Jesus is never lacking compassion, so if he appears to be holding back
answering prayer, it is for a good reason.
2. We are to learn to persevere in prayer and when we have a strong
need, we are to make strong persevering prayer for it.
Chapter: Matthew 15
Passage: Matthew 15:29-39
A. Find Out:
1. Where did Jesus next go and what happened? v.29,30
2. How did the people react? v.31
3. What did Jesus feel and what did he say to his disciples? v.32
4. What was the response of his disciples? v.33
5. Yet what was available? v.34
6. So what happened? v.35-39
1. How would you summarise v.29-31?
2. What is it that prompts the next miracle?
3. What do the disciples reveal about themselves?
Jesus has just been in a quiet location in the north, perhaps gaining fresh strength to minister to the need that he knows he will soon encounter again. As soon as he returns to Galilee the crowds come again wanting healing. Great crowds come bringing every sort of healing need and Jesus healed them all. You would expect him to be exhausted at the end of all that ministry, yet at the end of the day his only concern is for the further need of the people, the need to be fed.
The process of this miracle is almost identical to the feeding of the 5000 recorded in chapter 14. Again, when he questions the disciples, they do not respond in faith. You might think that, after the previous feeding, and after watching the amazing healings, they might have faith to believe that Jesus can meet this need as well. A better answer to Jesus question might have been, “Well what have you in mind Lord?”, but they simply focus on the size of the problem. Jesus knows what he wants to do, because he is Lord. The sensible thing in such circumstances is to ask him what he wants of us!
1. Jesus is our example of a man who gives and gives and having given is
still just concerned for the needs of others. Do we receive the
challenge to walk in his footsteps?
2. The disciples focused on the size of the problem not on the Lord
himself and his intentions. Can we learn the lesson here?
RECAP: Contrasts of Responses to Jesus- Matthew 15
In this final group of 4 studies we have seen:
A chapter of apparently mixed activity yet one that shows a variety of responses to Jesus. First there were the Pharisees who focussed on outward cleanliness and failed to see that the heart of the law was all about heart cleanliness. Second, were the disciples who still needed things explaining to them. Third comes the Canaanite woman who presses on in faith and is not deterred by Jesus' apparent slowness to grant her request. Fourth are the crowds who come to Jesus to have their physical needs met, and finally, there are the disciples again, who seem to have learnt little from the feeding of the five thousand and still focus on their material limitations rather than on Jesus' potential.
The Pharisees criticise, the disciples question, the crowds want for self, and so it is only the Canaanite woman who, with persevering faith, shows up well in this chapter. Which ones do we identify with?
1. Jesus focuses on the heart, not external ritual.
2. Jesus commends persevering faith.
3. Jesus wants us to learn from our previous lessons with him.
4. Jesus wants us to be open for him to move through in power.
5. Faith is looking to Jesus for him to bless others through us.
Ask the Lord to help the lessons and people of this chapter to teach you and release faith in you to enable you to become a person who shows their reliance on Jesus by persevering prayer, who looks with Jesus' eyes, who is able to move in obedience to the prompting of his Spirit and minister to people with His power.
SECTION SUMMARY - Matthew 12-15
In chapters 12 to 15 of Matthew we have seen Jesus :
1. In Conflict with the Pharisees
2. Taking every opportunity to Teach
3. Performing the Miraculous
We've also seen his family looking for him (12:46 -), his home town not believing him (13:54 -) and Herod wondering about him (14:2) after killing John the Baptist (14:3-).
SECTION CONCLUSION - Matthew 12-15
As we come to the end of this further set of studies in Matthew's Gospel may we note the following about “An Arriving Awareness”. Two different groups of people become aware of two different things:
1. Awareness of the Pharisees
This group of conservative guardians of the truth become aware that Jesus is a threat to their way of life. For the first time in Matthew's Gospel ( 12:14 ) we find them plotting to kill Jesus. There will be more plotting against him in the book, but in this section it comes to the fore for the first time. Again and again this hostile group confront Jesus, mostly over his apparent disregard for their rules, practices and traditions. Again and again he exposes them for what they are, a hard hearted bunch of man-centred legalists!
2. Awareness of the Disciples
Within this section there is one little incident that indicates a sudden awareness ( 14:33 ) where the disciples exclaims, “Truly you are the Son of God”. In the next section, in chapter 16, we will find Peter making the same declaration, but here in this section, is the first of such declarations. Yet even with this, most of the time in this section, the disciples seem largely unaware of who Jesus really is. So far there is little acclamation of Jesus, there is just that one incident on the lake that prompts them to realise or a moment who he is.
Yet at the same time as these two groups are struggling in different ways, we should also note:
3. Awareness of Jesus
Jesus is completely aware and alert to all that is happening and its significance. He was aware of the feelings of the Pharisees (12:15,25), aware of what had happened to John the Baptist (14:13), aware of the needs of the people (14:14, 15:32), and even in the way he goes north he seems to know what is coming and the need for rest and preparation. Throughout the Gospels the truth is conveyed to us: Jesus is completely aware and in control of his circumstances. Can we rest in that knowledge in our daily lives, for it is still true today?