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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Matthew 15

 

 

Verses 1-12

Matthew 15:1-2. Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

A very wonderful omission certainly, but it seems to have struck them as a very great crime. “They wash not their hands when they eat bread” — as if the commands of God were not enough, men must overload us. with their own commands, and sometimes the very people who would see us break God’s commands without being at all distressed are dreadfully shocked if we do not keep theirs, showing clearly that they have a higher estimate of themselves than they have of God.

Matthew 15:3-6. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say. Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

The cant said, “I cannot give you any help: I have vowed to give it as a subscription to the synagogue, or to the temple; therefore, I cannot give it to you,” and if he could plead that he had given it as a gift in the form of a religious offering, he was exempted from assisting his own parents. “Well,” said Christ, “ye do by this make the commandment of God of none effect.” “Ye hypocrites “ — -our Saviour is the, most gentle of men, but how plainly does he talk, and how honestly does he denounce everything like hypocrisy.

Matthew 15:7-9. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Now, may God save us from these two faults. The first is that of being content with the outside worship of God. Unless our very hearts worship, there is nothing whatever in the outward performance of religious rites or religious worship; indeed, it is hypocrisy to draw near to God with the lip and knee when the heart is not there. The next evil to be dreaded is teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Whatever is not plainly taught in Scripture is of no binding force upon any conscience, and it is evil to invent rites and ceremonies which are not taught in Holy Scripture. We must mind what we are at. If we have not the plain warrant of Christ’s command for our teachings and our doings, we shall rather vex the spirit of God than honour him. Whatever our intention may be, we have not any right to worship God, otherwise than according to his own mind. If we do, it will not be worship, and not acceptable with him.

Matthew 15:10-11. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

“And he called the multitude and said unto them: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man “ — not that which he eats and drinks, “but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man “ — what he says —there is the point.

Matthew 15:12. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

Some very kind friends are very jealous of the preacher, lest he should offend anybody, and they will come in all tenderness of spirit and say, “Knowest thou, that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?”


Verses 1-13

Matthew 15:1. Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, —

They had taken a journey to come and attack him; perhaps they had been sent as a deputation to try to thwart the Saviour. What a vexation of spirit it must have been to his pure and holy mind to come into conflict with these triflers, these self-righteous, self-confident men? Why did they some to Christ? To plead with him for the poor people who were perishing for lack of knowledge, or to ask him how souls could be saved, and how God could be glorified? Oh, no! They came to ask the Saviour about a very different subject, —

Matthew 15:2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

Would you have thought that full-grown men could have made it a matter of business to come from Jerusalem down into the country to talk to Christ about the fact that his disciples did not always wash their hands before they ate their breakfasts? Yet we have men, nowadays, who make a great point of what is to be done with any of the so-called “consecrated” bread that is left, and who are much concerned about what kind of a dress a “priest” ought to wear when he is engaged in the performance of certain duties. How sad is it that such trifles as these should occupy the minds of immortal beings while men are dying, and God is dishonoured!

Matthew 15:3. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

He answered their question by asking another, in which he drew the contrast between transgressing the tradition of the elders and transgressing the commandment of God.

Matthew 15:4-6. For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Whatever might be said about regarding the tradition of men, God’s commandment must be regarded. That stands first, and therefore our Lord demanded of these scribes and Pharisee an answer to his charge that they had overridden and overlaid a commandment of God by a tradition of their own. If a father and mother, in great need, said to their son, “Help us, for we are wanting bread,” and he answered, “I cannot give you anything, for all I have is dedicated to God,” the Rabbis taught that he might be exempted from relieving his parents, although they also said that, the next day, he might undo the dedication of his property, and employ it exactly as he pleased. He might use the fact that he had said, “That shekel is for God,” as a reason for not giving it to his father who was in need; and then, the very next day, he might take that shekel, and spend it exactly as he chose. So God’s commandment to honour, and love, and aid our parents, was set aside by their tradition.

Matthew 15:7-9. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Our Lord never flattered anybody; see how honestly, and in what plain terms, he addressed these scribes and Pharisees! Yet these were the great teachers of his day, and thought themselves the bright light of the age, the very leaders of the people in all that was good. But Christ addressed them as, “Ye hypocrites,” and gave them a text of Scripture which clearly applied to them. They had all manner of outward forms of worship, they talked very much about the Bible, they studied every word of it, and even counted the letters in every chapter, but they had no regard to the real meaning of God’s Word, and their heart was not right with the Lord. The Saviour patiently talked with them, but he also sternly rebuked them, and denounced them as hypocrites.

Matthew 15:10. And he called the multitude,

As much as if he had said to the scribes and Pharisees, “I cannot waste my time arguing with you; I am going to talk to these poor people who are perishing, and I shall have more hope of doing good among the multitude than among you, though you do consider yourselves the aristocracy of the church.”

Matthew 15:10-11. And said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

This was not very clear at first, it needed to be thought over and well considered. The Saviour dropped it into the popular mind, like a seed, and left it to grow, and develop in due season.

Matthew 15:12. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

The wonder was that they were not offended before. It certainly was not a matter of concern to Christ whether they were offended or not; he would not tone down the truth in order to please them.

Matthew 15:13. But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father not planted, shall be rooted up.

Every teacher whom God has not sent will find his teaching contradicted by Christ. The truth is like a spade; it turns up the soil for that life to grow in it which should grow, and it is also the means of killing the weeds: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” May we all be plants of his right-hand planting! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 119:129-144; and Matthew 15:1-13.


Verses 1-39

Matthew 15:1-14. then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Teacher and taught, Pharisee and disciple, “both shall fall into the ditch.” Great responsibility rests upon the blind leader, but not all of it; for great responsibility also attaches to the blind follower. He should not follow a blind leader, he above all others needs a leader who can see. It is a pity that the man who can see should follow a blind leader; but if a man cannot see at all, then is he doubly unwise if he has a blind leader.

Matthew 15:15-16. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

It was not a parable, it was a plain piece of simple language that the Saviour had uttered: “not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

Matthew 15:17-18. Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught . — But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

It is not that which we eat that defileth us. If it is such food as we ought to take, it builds up the body. If it is improper food, it may injure the body, yet it is not in itself capable of being regarded as sin; but a spiritual thing, — a thought, a desire, an imagination, — - comes out of the heart, and if that is evil, it does defile the man.

Matthew 15:19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

What a horrible den the heart itself must be, then! If all these evils come out of it, what a nest of unclean things it must be! A dreadful sight to the all-seeing God must be an uncleansed human heart. Let me read this verse again’ “for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” All these evils come out of the heart of man, out of such a heart as yours until it is renewed by grace. Though you sit very attentively in the house of God, unless his grace has changed your heart, all these evil things are there, and they only want an opportunity to come out. and reveal themselves.

Matthew 15:20. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unclean hands defileth not a man.

You should understand that the washing here meant was not such as you and I give our hands when we feel that we have soiled them with our labour; then, it is very proper to cleanse them. But this was a ceremonial washing which the scribes and Pharisees would have everybody give, whether his hands were clean or not, before he sat down to meat, and was a mere piece of absurdity, if not something worse. Yet they magnified it into a most important matter, and our Saviour here shows what an idle thing it was.

Matthew 15:29-32. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Was not that a most gracious utterance? “I will not send them away fasting” What confidence the disciples ought to have had that the people could be fed, and would be fed, when the Master gave that solemn promise, “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.”

Matthew 15:33-34. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye?

That is always a good form of enquiry: “How many loaves have ye?” How much grace have you? How much gift have you? How much ability have you? Are you using it all? Have you consecrated it all to the Master’s service?

Matthew 15:34-35. And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

It is very wonderful that they did as he told them; they could not see anything to eat, and yet, when he bade them sit down, they obeyed him, and did so. Thus the Lord prepares men’s hearts for the reception of the Gospel. I do not doubt that, whenever we go forth faithfully to break the read of life, the Lord makes the people sit down in readiness to receive it.

Matthew 15:36. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

Notice the order of our Lord’s action, thanksgiving first, and then the breaking of the bread. We do not always thank God for what we have already received, but the Lord here sets us the example of giving thanks for what is yet to come. For the multiplied loaves and fishes, he first gives thanks, and then passes them to his disciples to hand to the multitude.

Matthew 15:37-39. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. And he send away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.


Verses 10-31

Matthew 15:10. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

True religion does not consist in meats and drinks, in feasting or in fasting.

It is not that which goes into us, but that which comes out or us, which is the main matter.

Matthew 15:12. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

They thought a very great deal of the opinion of the Pharisees; and they were greatly concerned because their Master had offended them. These Pharisees set themselves up as the judges of everything that was correct and proper in religion; yet Christ offended them by his plain speaking.

Matthew 15:13. But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

The truth is often intended to be a rooter up. I have no doubt that our Lord said many things which had no other intention than the discovery of these deceitful men to themselves and others, that their baneful influence might be destroyed. Our Saviour was a true iconoclast, a great image-smasher; and these men, who were the chief icons or images of the day, had to be broken down. He therefore put the truth in the very form that would offend them.

Matthew 15:14. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Our Lord did not soften or tone down his previous language, but he revealed the true character of the false guides by whom so many were deluded.

Matthew 15:15. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

“We do not understand it; what is its meaning?”

Matthew 15:16-17. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

And so there is an end of it.

Matthew 15:18. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

The main matter to be considered is the heart, not the mouth, and other parts of the body. Note how our Lord, by this great truth, puts the axe to much that looks very fair stood good, and cuts it down as worthless. If we serve God with the heart, there is the core of true religion; but if not, we may have as many ceremonial washings as there are hours in the day and days in the year, and we may be careful to avoid this article, of diet and to feed on that, to wear this garment and not to wear that, and to observe this day and not that; but all this outward religion will be of no avail whatever, if our heart is not savingly affected by the grace of God.

Matthew 15:19-21. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:Tthese are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

He did not like the Pharisees well enough to stay among them. His own word concerning them was, “Let them alone;” and he did very severely let them alone: “Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.” He must not go into Tyre and Sidon, for his commission for the present was confined to Palestine, the chosen land. Do not regret this, dear friends. To have extended our Saviour’s work over a greater area, would not have been really to increase it; and it was very important that, during the very short active lifetime of our Saviour, — a little more than three years, — he should confine his operations to a comparatively small district, so as to produce a permanent result there which would afterwards radiate over the whole world. So our Saviour, who knew what was best for men, confined himself within a very narrow sphere; and, my brethren and sisters, I am not sure that we are always wise when we want a great sphere. I have myself sometimes envied the man with about five hundred people to watch over, who could see them all, know them all, and enter into sympathy with them all, and so could do his work well. But, with so large a number as I have under my charge, what can one man do? And you, my brethren may increase the quantity of your acreage, and yet grow no larger crops. You may think that you will succeed better on a wider scale; but if you do not do so well in the greater field, it might have been wiser to narrow your boundaries rather than to widen them. However, if our Lord might not go into Tyre and Sidon, he went as near to them as he could: “Jesus departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.” And if you, dear friends, think there is a limit to your sphere of usefulness, always go as near as ever you can to the limit; go up to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

Matthew 15:22. And, behold, —

For it is a great wonder that such a person should have come to Jesus: “And, behold,” —

Matthew 15:22-23. A woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word.

This was another marvel, — a silent Saviour, — silent when it would have been so natural for him to speak a kind and gracious word: “He answered her not a word.”

Matthew 15:23. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

“’She crieth after us,’ and it is very important that we should not be troubled.” We disciples are apt to think so, especially if we get a little lifted up, and come to be apostles: “Send her away; for she crieth after us.” She knew better than to cry after the disciples, it was the Master whose help she wanted. Some sinners are a great nuisance, they make so much noise in seeking Christ; and what a mercy it is that they do so! Oh, to have such troublesome people about us all day long, and all night long, too! It would be worth while to be vexed in this style. But the disciples said to Jesus, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.”

Matthew 15:24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

“Therefore, I cannot attend to her.”

Matthew 15:25-26. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet-

“It is not comely, it is not fit,” —

Matthew 15:26. To take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

The original means, the little dogs that play with the children; they lie under the table, and pick up the crumbs that their masters (the children) let fall. The woman caught at that expression at once —

Matthew 15:27. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

“I may be only a dog, and these Jews round about you are your children, but I have got in among them, and I am looking for a crumb or two as it falls from their table.” This was grand faith on her part, and it was speedily rewarded.

Matthew 15:28-31. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

The Saviour appears to have gone this journey on purpose to bless this woman and her daughter; and, having wrought the miracle, he went where great multitudes came to him, bringing their sick folk to be healed, and the result was: “They glorified the God of Israel.” There may be some poor soul here in as great distress as this woman was; if so, may that one get a blessing; and then may the blessing spread through all the neighborhood till multitudes are saved!


Verses 13-28

Matthew 15:13. But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.

He had not any peculiar tenderness towards them, they were no plants of his Father’s planting: they deserved to be rooted up, and their teaching was so utterly false that, if he had offended against it, he was glad to have done so.

Matthew 15:14. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

The bad teacher and he that is badly taught, for they are both responsible, shall both fall into the ditch. No man can lay the sin of his being misdirected entirely upon his priest or his teacher. He had no business to have submitted to him. At the same time, it is a very serious responsibility for a man who knows not God to attempt to teach the things of God. I know a man who, in a certain place of worship was deeply convinced of sin — the arrows of God stuck in him, and, being in great distress, he went to the minister and told him how he felt the burden of his guilt. The minister said to him, “My dear friend, I really had no intention of making you uneasy — what was it I said? — I will get the sermon — I am very sorry, but really I do not know anything about it.” The man said, “You told us we must be born again.” “Oh!”, said the minister, “that was done for you when a child — your parents did it.” “You know sir, we must be converted.” “Well, really I do not understand it. I am afraid I have disturbed you unnecessarily.” Our friend, however, was not to be put off so; he sought and found a Saviour. But how dreadful a thing it is when the blind lead the blind: they shall both fall into the ditch.

Matthew 15:15. Then answered Peter and said unto him Declare unto us this parable.

And Jesus said Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. There is no defilement about that. Cleanliness is to be observed, but not the mere act of washing just for the sake of it, every time you eat bread, which defiles not a man; but oh! what defilement there is in evil thought, In anger which breeds murder, in lust which leads to adultery and fornication, in covetousness which begets theft, and in a false heart which leads to false witness, and in a profane mind which leads to blasphemy. Oh! that God would cleanse our secret thoughts, the very center of our hearts, for until the fountain is made clean, the stream that comes from it cannot be pure.

Matthew 15:21-22. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

“But he answered her not a word.” How painful that silence must have been! In what suspense she was.

Matthew 15:23. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away: for she crieth after us.

They were under a mistake. She did not cry after them: she knew better then that: she cried after the Lord, after the great Son of David, not after them, but, however, she disturbed them.

Matthew 15:24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Christ’s personal ministry was confined to the Jews. He came as a Saviour to redeem all mankind, but as a preacher he was a minister to the circumcision, and he came to speak only to Israel.

Matthew 15:25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Her prayer got shorter, and she grew more intense, more energetic, more determined to win the blessing. “Lord help me.”

Matthew 15:26-28. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto to her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Oh! can you exercise a like faith in Christ? If so you shall get a like blessing. Only believe in him, only make up your mind, and, however great the mercy, it cannot be too great for him to give, and believe that he will give it, rest on him to bestow it, and you shall have it. God grant that many may receive it at this very hour.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 13:1-23; Matthew 15:13-28. 1 Corinthians 3:17-23.


Verses 18-31

Matthew 15:18-21. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

He went right away, not because he was afraid to speak the truth, but because, having done so, he did not care to remain in the company of those who were round about him. He would rather go even to the verge of heathendom than live in the midst of Pharisaic hypocrisy: “Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.”

Matthew 15:22. And, behold, —

There is something here that is worth beholding, so the Holy Ghost draws attention to it, just as we sometimes print N.B., Nota bene; mark well;

“behold,” —

Matthew 15:22. A woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,

Possibly she did not know that Christ had come; but, anyhow, when Christ comes, sinners come. He journeyed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and this woman met him.

Matthew 15:22-23. And cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

Perhaps they meant, “Give her the blessing, and let her go. Thou art seeking quiet here, and she will not let thee, nor us either, have any. ‘Send her away.’” They made a great mistake when they said, “She crieth after us.” It was Christ to whom she cried, not his disciples.

Matthew 15:24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

“My ministerial commission is only to the Jews.” As a Saviour, he comes to save sinners, out of all nations; but as the Messiah, his special mission was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Matthew 15:25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

“Then came she, and worshipped him.” If Jesus Christ was not really and truly God, he was a base imposter to allow this woman to worship him. She had called him “Lord,” once before, and he did not rebuke her, and now she not only calls him “Lord,” but she worships him. She was doing quite right, for he is none other than very God of very God: “Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.”

Matthew 15:26. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Or, “to little dogs,” for the word is, in that form in the Greek.

Matthew 15:27. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

It was well for her that the Master had used that diminutive form of the word, for the bigger dogs in the East were not permitted in the house, but the little dogs were admitted to play with the children. She seemed to snatch at that idea as she cried, “Truth, Lord: yet the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table,” as though the greatest possible boon to her was, but a crumb to him, and but a crumb compared with the bread which he was putting upon the table of Israel. The greater blessing which he was giving to the children might prompt him to give a crumb to her.

Matthew 15:28. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Oh, the triumph of faith! God grant it to us! Yet this woman may surely shame many of us; we have not half her discouragements, and we have not half her confidence in Christ.

Matthew 15:29. And Jesus departed from thence,

He is always on the move, for he has always something else to do. As soon as his deed of grace is done in one part, he hastens to another: “And Jesus departed from thence,” —

Matthew 15:29-31. And came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

This was Israel’s table indeed; and when you see these many mighty cures that Christ wrought, you can easily justify the speech of the Syrophenician woman, and agree with her that what she sought was only a crumb compared with the bountiful feast of fat things that was prepared for the favored nation.


Verses 21-28

Matthew 15:21. Then Jesus went thence,

He was glad to get away from the scribes and Pharisees, who had been disputing about such trifles as the washing of his disciples’ hands; he was tired of the murmuring of these cantankerous, frivolous triflers.

Matthew 15:21. And departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

He felt that he would rather be with “sinners of the Gentiles” than with these Ritualistic and hypocritical Hebrews. He will get as far away from them as he well can he will go even to the heathen, for among them he will be able to do his real business, and not be trifled with.

Matthew 15:22. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,

When sinners come to Christ, it is because Christ comes to them. Notice the two statements, how they coincide. Jesus “departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon,” and this “woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts,” and so they met. Oh, that there might be such a meeting here tonight, between someone who has come from a long distance to meet Christ, and Christ who has come on purpose to meet that person!

Matthew 15:22. And cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

The devil had extraordinary power at that time, so that he possessed the bodies and minds of men. I am not certain that there are not instances of Satan’s possession even now amongst us; there are cases that look very much like it, but in the Saviour’s day there were evidently singular and remarkable possessions of men and women by Satan. This poor mother says, “My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.”

Matthew 15:23. But he answered her not a word.

Has the Saviour become deaf and dumb? Will he not hear a suppliant cry? He heard her, but he said nothing.

Matthew 15:23. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

“She is a stranger, and, as far as we can judge, she means to hang on until she gets what she wants. If thou wilt not give it to her, bid her begone, for she crieth after us.” One thing I notice that they said, which was not true, “She crieth after us.” Not she! She never cried after them she was crying after Christ, she would have pleaded in vain if she had cried after them, for all they had to say was, “Send her away.” A very different result came from her crying unto the Lord.

Matthew 15:24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

As a Preacher and a Teacher, Christ came to administer to the circumcision, the Jews, the seed of Israel. He did not go about among the nations, it was his work to be a witness to the Jews. As a Preacher, he must begin somewhere, and he chose to begin with them. “I am not sent,” said he; therefore, how could he go if he was not sent? Our Saviour had a greater regard to the sending of the Father than some preachers have, for they run before they are sent, sometimes they run when they are never sent at all; but, as Paul asked, “How shall they preach, except they be sent?”

Matthew 15:25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

She takes a humbler attitude than she had at first assumed. She comes closer, and she is more earnest and personal in her pleading than she had been: “Lord help me.” Her prayer is shorter than it was at first; and I think that, when prayers grow shorter, they grow stronger. There is often more proof of earnestness in a short prayer than there is in a long one; glibness of speech is not prevalence in intercession.

Matthew 15:26-27. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord.

You remember the sermon that we had upon this text not long ago. The woman did not contradict the Saviour, she did not enter into any controversy with him, but she said, “Truth, Lord.” Whatever he says however black the words may look to her, she accepts them as true, and says, “Truth, Lord.”

Matthew 15:27. Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which far from their masters’ table.

When the children drop the crumbs then the little dogs which have been fondled by the children feed on the crumbs which fall, not from “the” master’s table, but from “their masters’ table” — that is, from the table of the children.

Matthew 15:28. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith:

He seems quite amazed at the woman’s faith, but he admires it, and exclaimed, “O woman, great is thy faith.”

Matthew 15:28. Be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter made whole from that very hour.

It was as she wished, and she went home to glorify the Christ, and to tell everybody how her prayer to him had sped.


Verses 21-39

Jesus had been in conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees. He never liked such discussions, and though he was always victorious in every controversy, it grieved his spirit.

Matthew 15:21. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

He was glad to get away, and made a journey over the hills to get at as great a distance as possible from these cavillers.

Matthew 15:22. And behold, a woman of Canaan came.

A Syrophenician woman, one of the old, condensed race living in Tyre and Sidon.

Matthew 15:23. But he answered her not a word.

Answers to prayers may be delayed; but delays are not always denials.

Christ’s silence must have been a great trial to the poor woman; but our Lord knew with whom he was dealing.

Matthew 15:23. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

Ah, these disciples made a grand mistake! She did not cry after them; she cried after him; but so they understood it: therefore they said, “Get rid of her; she disturbs us; when we are in the street, we can hear her cry. Send her away; for she crieth after us.” Ah! Poor disciples, she was not so foolish as to cry after you; she was crying after your Master. If any here have come only to hear the preacher, they have made a great mistake; but if you have come for a word from the Master, I pray that you may be gratified.

Matthew 15:24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Christ did what he was sent to do; he was the Messiah, the sent One. He would not go beyond his mission, so he says, “I am sent.” He was sent as a Preacher and a Teacher, not to the Gentiles, but to Israel. He had a larger commission in reserve, and was yet to be a Saviour to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; but for the present he was to be a Shepherd to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Matthew 15:25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord help me.

A very short prayer; but how much there was in it!

Matthew 15:26-27. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

It is the faculty of faith to see in the dark. This woman spied out light in what seemed to be a very dark saying. Did Christ call her a dog? Well, dogs have their privileges when they lie under the table. Even if their master does not throw them a crumb, yet they may take that which falls from his hand. If Jesus would but allow any mercy to drop, as it were, accidentally, this woman would be content.

Matthew 15:28-29. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. And Jesus departed from thence.

When he had done his business, he was off. Our Lord was a great itinerant; he was always on the move/ He had come all the way to the parts of Tyre and Sidon to help one woman; and when that one woman had been attended to, he goes back again immediately to his old post by the sea of Galilee.

Matthew 15:29-30. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them.

In the prayer-meeting, held by the deacons and elders this morning, before I came in here, one of our friends observed in prayer that there might be many lame, blind, and maimed in the congregation, and he prayed that they might be brought to Jesus. Let us, by faith, bring them to him, and lay them at his feet. Oh, that this word, “He healed them,” might be true again today!

Matthew 15:31. Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be made whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Oh, for glory to God! There is no glory to god which equals that which comes from blind eyes which have been made to see; and from dumb lips which have been made to speak. The glories of nature and providence are eclipsed by the glories of grace. May we see such things today.

Matthew 15:32. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Ah, dear friends, they were willing to put up with inconvenience to hear the gospel in those days! Three days of sermon-hearing! People want sermons wonderfully short now, and the sermons must be marvelously interesting, too, or else the people grow dreadfully tired. If dinner-time came around, the dinner-bell, at any time, in these days, would drown all the attraction of the pulpit. But here were people that attended Christ’s ministry for three days, and they had nothing to eat. He had compassion upon them, and said to his disciples, “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.”

Matthew 15:33-34. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye?

That is the point. It is idle to enquire about how much you want. “How many loaves have ye?”

Matthew 15:34-35. And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

It was a token of Christ’s presence and power that they were willing to sit down on the ground. Think of thousands of people taking their places in an orderly way to feed upon seven cakes and a few little fishes! Without any demur, the crowd arranged itself into banquet order at the command of Jesus.

Matthew 15:36-37. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled; and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

They were large baskets, too; not like the small food-baskets mentioned when the five thousand were fed. The word used here is the same word that is employed to describe the basket in which Saul was let down by the wall of Damascus.

Matthew 15:38. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Now, if the women and children bore the same proportion to the men as they generally do in our congregation, there must have been a very large crowd indeed. Why is the number of the women and children not mentioned? Was it because there were so many? Or was it because their appetites being smaller than the appetites of men, the men are put down as the great eaters, and the women and children, as it were, thrown into the count? What a mercy it is that the Lord adds to the church daily a vast number of men, women, and children! The Lord sends us many more, until we cannot count them!

Matthew 15:39. And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

He had taught the people, and fed them; so now he goes elsewhere to carry similar blessings to others also.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 15:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/matthew-15.html. 2011.

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