Matthew 15 Questions and Answers
1. Read Matthew 15:1-9. What wrong were Jesus' disciples accused of doing? What had they done? Who made the accusation?
- Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus and asked why His disciples were breaking the tradition of the elders? They hadn't washed their hands before they ate.
- This wash had nothing to do with personal hygiene but referred to ceremonial rinsing. The purpose was to remove the ritual defilement from touching something unclean such as a dead body or a Gentile.
2. What was Jesus' reply to the accusation?
- Instead of answering their question or giving them an explanation like He did later to His disciples, Jesus gave the religious leaders a counter charge.
- Just as Jesus offered compassion to the fickle crowds that just wanted food and healing from Him, so Jesus offered condemnation for the self-righteous, hypocritical religious leaders who wanted nothing to do with Jesus except discredit Him or destroy Him.
- Jesus asked the Pharisees and teachers of the law why they broke the command of God for the sake of their tradition.
- God said to honor their father and mother and if anyone curses (speaks evil of) his father or mother he should be put to death. But they made up a tradition that said that if they dedicated their possessions or certain money to God (that was called korban) that was a vow to God that they could not break. Therefore whatever money they should have given their parents they could just say they had given that to God therefore according to their tradition they "must not" honor their parents. It was not a matter of just withholding help, it was actually forbidden. Except for what they gave to the Temple or synagogue, the korban possessions remained in the hands of the person. When he decided to use them for his own purposes, tradition permitted him to do so simply by saying korban over them again. The tradition was not designed to serve God or the family but the selfish interests of the person making the hypocritical vow.
- They were nullifying God's Word for the sake of their tradition.
- Jesus called them hypocrites.
- Said the quote from Isaiah applied to them just as it applied to the people in Isaiah's day: they honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from God. They worship God in vain, their teachings are only rules taught by man.
3.a) Do you/we ever think that what our church or denomination tells us has more authority than the Word of God?
b) Do you/we get offended when someone points out that what we are doing because it is part of our tradition is not what the Bible teaches?
c) Do you ever find yourself being hypocritical in your worship? How can we keep ourselves from being hypocritical?
- We can only worship God in spirit and in truth when our heart belongs to Him and has been cleansed and made righteous in Him.
4. Are traditions always bad or wrong?
- No, they can benefit us when they help us to remember, cherish and honor things that are noble and beautiful.
- But when they are substituted for or in any way distort or distract from God's Word they are an offense to God and a barrier to right worship and living.
5. Read Matthew 15:10-14. What did Jesus tell the crowd makes a person unclean?
- Not what goes into their mouth but what comes out of their mouth that make a person spiritually and morally unclean. The physical has no way of defiling or contaminating the spiritual.
- A person's defiled heart is expressed both in what he says and in what he does. The mouth is the more dominant revealer of internal pollution, because it is through our words that hatred, deception, cruelty, blasphemy and most other evils are most clearly revealed.
6. How was Jesus' response received by the Pharisees?
- The Pharisees were offended.
7. How did Jesus tell his disciples to feel about or respond to those who don't accept the truth?
- If a plant was not planted by God, it will be pulled up by the roots. This would refer to the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, 37-42)
- Jesus said to leave them (meaning keep away from them - have nothing to do with them) for they are blind guides. If they lead another blind person they will both fall into a pit (the spiritual meaning of pit is hell).
- It is spiritually dangerous to stay around those who constantly reject and oppose the gospel of Jesus.
- Even Jesus didn't debate the ungodly Pharisees and teachers of the law. When He responded to their questions or accusations it was to correct their doctrinal error and condemning their spiritual and moral wickedness.
8. Read Matthew 15:15-20. Did the disciples understand the parable?
- At first it appears like they didn't, because Peter asked Jesus to explain the meaning of the parable. But maybe it was more that they found it hard to accept.
9. What was Jesus' response to Peter's request?
- Are you still so dull? Are you still lacking in understanding.
10. What was the meaning of the parable?
- Whatever goes into the mouth, goes into the stomach (not the heart) and then out of the body.
- But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart (represents the inner person-his thoughts, attitudes, desires, loyalties, motives) and these things makes a person unclean. Eg. Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
- Eating with unwashed hands does not make a person unclean spiritually.
- It was the Pharisees inner unrighteousness - shown by their desire to kill Jesus - that's what corrupted them.
- The thrust of the Sermon on the Mount was that the basis of all sin was in our inner thought, not the outward action.
- Things that pollute a person come from an unwashed heart, not unwashed hands. The need is for God to cleanse a person's heart, not for us to wash our hands.
11. Read Matthew 15:21-28. Where did Jesus leave from and go to?
- From Gennesaret he withdrew to Tyre and Sidon.
12. Why do you think Jesus went to a Gentile territory?
- To get some physical refreshment and time to be alone with the twelve. It seemed like no matter where He went in Galilee people followed Him who wanted to be healed and fed, etc.
- Maybe to get away from some of the pressure Jesus would have been experiencing. Eg. pressure was mounting among some Jews to force Jesus to be their king to free them from the Romans. John 6:15 says that after the feeding of the 5000 they intended to take Him by force to make Him King.
- Maybe the pressure of possible execution by Herod Antipas who thought Jesus was John the Baptist come back from the dead.
- The religious leaders were already determined to destroy Jesus, and after Jesus' rebuke about their man-made traditions the danger from the religious leaders was greater.
13.a) What did the Canaanite woman call Jesus? What did she want from Jesus?
- Lord, Son of David
- To have mercy on her because her daughter was suffering terrible from demon possession. Heal her daughter.
b) How did Jesus respond to the women?
- He didn't say a word to her.
c) How did the disciples respond?
- Asked Jesus to send her away because she was crying out after them. (she was bothering and annoying them- getting on their nerves)
14. Why hadn't Jesus responded to the Canaanite woman?
- Because Jesus had been sent only to the lost sheep of Israel and she was not a Jew.
- He said it wasn't fair to give what was meant for the children (the Jews) to the dogs (the Gentiles)
15. Did the woman get offended and give up? How did the woman respond to Jesus' comment?
- She knelt before Jesus and asked Him to help her.
- She, the dog, was willing to eat the crumbs that fell from the Master's table.
16. What did Jesus say about the woman's faith and what did he do as result?
- He said to the woman that she had great faith, and as a result her request was granted.
- From that very hour her daughter was healed.
17. How did the Canaanite woman show that she had great faith?
- She asked for mercy which means she was asking for something she didn't deserve
- She had put her faith in the right person - not the gods she would have been used to bowing to.
- She had turned from faith in false gods to faith in Jesus Christ. By coming to Jesus she publicly affirmed His power over her former gods of wood and stone.
- She reverently addressed Jesus as Lord
- She had a sense of expectancy and went to Jesus with a trusting spirit.
- She loved her daughter more than her own life so she came to the only source of help she knew
- Great faith does not give up even when Jesus did not respond to her or said that He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus was testing her faith by setting up a series of barriers.
- Jesus was pleased with the woman's response and she grew stronger in her faith as a result of the testing
- She kept asking until she received, seeking until she found, knocking until it was opened to her. Matt 7:7
18. Can you think of another time when Jesus helped a Gentile? What did they have in common? (Matthew 8:5-13)
- Their faith was great.
- They were humble and hungered for the Bread of Life.
19. If Jesus were to describe your faith, what might He say?
- If Peter was considered to have little faith in Matthew 14:31- just because He had been with Jesus for about 2 years and doubted when he saw the waves, then considering I have known Jesus for over 50 years, I wonder if He would sometimes call my faith weak. I wonder if I play it too safe sometimes.
20. Would you have been offended if Jesus or another person talked to you the way Jesus talked to the Canaanite woman?
- Jesus was testing to see if her faith was in Him and if she would give up. Jesus had compassion on her but testing her faith before He healed the daughter.
- I wonder if Jesus has ever tested me and I gave up before He could show me His power.
21. Read Matthew 15:29-31. It seems like no matter where Jesus goes what happens? What was the result this time?
- Great crowds come to Him bringing sick and handicapped people of various kinds. Jesus always has compassion on them and takes time to heal them.
- The people praised God
22. When we minister to people, what should be our goal?
- We minister in such a way that people praise, glorify & worship God - not us.
- Meeting just physical and temporal needs is not enough. We need to bring people to Jesus so they will learn to trust Him as Saviour and Lord.
23. What attitude do we often read that Jesus had when he saw a crowd of people coming to Him? How did He show it this time?
- Compassion - why? Because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
- He had compassion for their physical needs so healed the sick, He had compassion for their spiritual needs so taught them, He had compassion in regard to their food so fed them.
24. How long had the people been with Jesus without eating? Could you have gone that long without eating?
- 3 days.
- I'm not sure if I have ever gone 3 days without eating anything.
25. What was the first thought that came into the disciple's minds when Jesus mentioned He did not want to send the people away hungry?
- Where could they get enough bread in that remote place to feed all the people?
- Hadn't they remembered that Jesus had already fed 5000 men plus women and children not so long
ago and He could do it now?
- Perhaps they were acknowledging that like last time they didn't have the resources to feed that many people.
26. How much food was in the crowd this time? How many would it have to feed?
- 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish.
- There were 4000 men plus women and children
27. What did Jesus do to feed everyone?
- Jesus told everyone to sit on the ground. (in the feeding of the 5000 Jesus had them sit on the grass)
- He took the 7 loaves and fish, thanked God for them, broke them and gave them to the disciples who gave them to the people.
- They all ate and were satisfied. Jesus gives generously.
28. Was there any food left over?
- There were 7 basketfuls of broken pieces left over that the disciples picked up. There was no wasting. Some times Jesus gives more than we need, but He doesn't want us to waste the extra either.
29. What did Jesus do after everyone was fed?
- Sent the crowd away
- Jesus got in the boat with His disciples and went to Magadan.