Conflict And Healing
“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 15:1–39, ESV)
Religious leaders from Jerusalem come to Jesus in an attempt to trap him and expose errors in his doctrine and theology. The question is asked about the reasons for not following traditions, and they make reference to ceremonial washing before partaking in a meal. Jesus does not give an answer to the question asked and instead goes on the offensive and confronts them in their hypocrisy. Jesus questions them about breaking commandments for the sake of tradition. The commandments of men were substituted for the commandments of God. Jesus directly addresses the issue of forsaking parents under the guise of giving something to God. Jesus calls these leaders hypocrites and further applies Isaiah's prophecy condemning them for formal external practices with a disconnected heart. The heart is the way the king judges people.
Jesus calls the people and challenged an external religion with no heart. He shows that it is not what goes in the mouth that profanes, it is the mouth speaking that reveals the heart. The disciples tell Jesus that what he said to the Pharisees had been offensive to them. Jesus passes right by the offense because it was not legitimate. He calls them blind guides that lead people to ruin. Peter speaks for the group and asks Jesus to explain this further to them, and Jesus takes them to task for their lack of understanding. Jesus reiterates that the heart is the issue, and it is what defiles someone and is made clear by the behavior that follows.
The King's Crumbs
Jesus withdraws to Tyre and Sidon and is confronted by a woman pleading for her daughter that is oppressed by a demon. She calls for mercy and addresses Jesus as the Lord and the Son of David. Jesus' initial treatment is to remain silent, and when he finally answers, it seems to be rather harsh. Her constant begging causes the disciples become frustrated, and they want to send her away. When Jesus finally answers, it is direct and difficult to hear because Jesus was sent to Israel, to live and preach among those people to whom God had committed his law and his covenant from the beginning. Jesus' response about dogs and children's bread would have caused most to drop the request altogether, but her response is superb. Even dogs can eat crumbs from the master's table. Jesus commends her faith and grants her request and heals her daughter.
The Sick And Hungry
Crowds continue to follow Jesus and people with a range of conditions come to Jesus. He healed them, and they were restored. The people glorified God for the display of his power and his presence. The miracles continue with another instance of Jesus feeding a large crowd. This time, Jesus takes the initiative himself and declares his compassion for the crowd. The disciples question the way to secure bread in such a desolate place. Jesus inventories the food supply, prays, and feeds the masses. The King has compassion for the sick and the hungry.