THROUGH THE BIBLE IN THREE YEARS

This program of daily Scripture studies is designed to help you in daily honoring God with adoration.

Each day, Monday through Friday, a Scripture with commentary is posted.

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TODAY'S SCRIPTURE STUDY

MATTHEW

CHAPTER 15

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

Note that these "scribes and Pharisees" were "of Jerusalem." A delegation had been sent to see about this "miracle man," Jesus. However, the delegation did not come to find God, or even to find a prophet of God. They had only come to find fault!

The question presented is representative of an even more serious spiritual implication, "Can a person with unwashed hands be saved?" Many are asking this question today. "Can a person who sins actually be saved?" Be reminded that those who ask such a question are seeking to find fault! They are not seeking to find salvation! The wonder and miracle of God is: that He CAN SAVE sinners, and HAS SAVED sinners!

3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 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. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Jesus' answer reflects that He recognized the serious spiritual implications of their question. He immediately pointed to THEIR sinfulness. They were also breaking God's commandments.

God's rule was that a man must "Honour thy father and mother." Period. That means to honor, help, minister to when they are old an needy.

But these scribes and Pharisees had a self-made rule which they imposed to get around God's law. Their rule was, "If a man declares His possessions as a GIFT to God, then he shall not be responsible to care for his aged father or mother." So all they had to do was declare all their possessions as a "gift" or offering to God, then they were free from obligations. Then they could undeclare the "gift" when their parents were dead!

Jesus said this made the law of God "of none effect." And His implication was that they would willingly apply all the law to others, but not to themselves!

If a Christian sins, is he just a sinner, or one who is not saved? Let me point out that Romans 3:23 says, "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Saved people are sinners too! The miracle of God is that those who have surrendered to Him are saved by His grace and glory in spite of their sin. The truly surrendered person is washed in the blood and sealed in His Spirit. Their names are written indelibly in the book of God's salvation. No, a saved person is not SINLESS, but he certainly should sin LESS!

Jesus also called this "false worship." He called them "hypocrites." The Greek word is hupocrites, which refers to a character on stage. This character was assuming the role of another person. Jesus' implication here was that if a person said a sinner couldn't be saved, or that a person who is a sinner is not saved, then that person has set himself as judge....assuming a character which he cannot fulfill.

Notice also that Jesus was not bashful to place Himself in God's position! In Verse 9 Jesus said, "But in vain do they worship ME...."

This was not only a stinging rebuke of their hypocrisy, but also a declaration of Who Jesus is!

10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

Then, Jesus immediately turned His attention away from the scribes and Pharisees, and began to talk to the crowd around Him. Jesus wanted them to be sure and "understand."

It is not a matter of eating and/or drinking that "defileth," or makes a person lost. Instead, it is that which comes OUT of his mouth that "defileth." Yes. A saved person is a sinner too. He is less than he should be. However, what is MOST important is his TESTIMONY. A saved person will be humbled by His sin, and seek God's forgiveness. And a saved person will not seek to reduce the person of a sinner by pointing to his sin. Instead, the saved person will point to the glory of God and His marvelous grace which forgives sin.

The disciples came to Jesus because they were concerned. Jesus had made the scribes and Pharisees angry. The disciples had never seen anyone go against the "athorities" of religion before.

13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. 15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

Jesus told the disciples not to worry about it. If a person is truly saved, he/she will be "planted" by the Father. But those who are "hypocrites" are blind leading the blind and will be "rooted up."

Peter, still didn't get it. And he asked Jesus to "declare" the saying...or make it more understandable.

16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Jesus' question to Peter has tremendous application to saved people today. "Are ye also yet without understanding?" YES! There are MANY things a saved person doesn't understand! However, when he/she doesn't understand, they will humbly go before God asking forgiveness and begging for wisdom.

Jesus explained: eating and drinking is a physical thing, but speaking is a spiritual thing! Sin is DEEPER than physical things. The physical is only a manifestation of what is happening spiritually. In order to speak, a person must think and apply his/her will. What comes out of the "heart" is an application of will. Sinfulness is reflected in speech!

The soul is comprised of three parts: body, mind and heart (or spirit). The body feeds into the soul the desires of life. The mind feeds into the soul the education of laws and regulations, and the consequences of decisions. But the heart/spirit makes the decisions. That's why, when a person is saved, God BEGINS regenerative work in the HEART!

And keep in mind, God is in the SOUL-saving business! He wants ALL of you! WHETHER God has a person is reflected in that persons speech and decisive actions.

Yes, a person who is saved will sin. But WHEN he/she sins, he will come to God pleading forgiveness, and showing that he/she is underserving of God's marvelous grace.

No, a person who is saved will not understand everything about salvation. But WHEN he/she doesn't understand, he will come before God pleading for wisdom to make right decisions.

21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 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. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 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.

The former things took place on the Northwest shore of The Sea of Galilee. Then Jesus went to "the coasts of Tyre and Sidon." He actually left the land of Israel and entered Phonecia.

Jesus had withdrawn away from Israel because of certain persecution. The Pharisees had become bold in their attacks against him. But the time was not right for Him to be crucified. All things must take place in the time of God's appointment.

At first, Jesus did not answer the woman at all, even though she cried loudly toward Him and the disciples. Mark does not mention this in his explanation of the story (see Mark 7:24-27). One assumes that Jesus' plan to remain withdrawn for awhile also includes remaining unknown by miracles.

Evidently she continued to cry out loudly, and the disciples were concerned about it (vs 23). Either they wanted Jesus to tell her to leave, or perhaps they wanted Jesus to comply with her request and send her away quietly.

But Jesus utilized her knowledge of history to refuse her request. She was "Syrophoenician." She was probably Canaanite in descent and Greek by birth. Obviously, she was aware of the prophesy of "Messiah." Therefore, Jesus explained that His chief purpose was to bring "the lost sheep of Israel" to faith in Him first. He used an analogy of her time which she could understand. One did not allow the "dogs" in the house to have the "children's bread." Dogs were tolerated in the house, but they ate only the scraps. Jewish people of that day referred to all Gentiles as "dogs," intimating that they came second to Jews in relation to God and His revelation of Himself.

The woman accepted the analogy, and pled for the "scraps!" She was quite willing to be second...or even last. However, the performance of what she asked from Jesus was only "scraps!" It would be nothing for Him to restore her daughter!

This statement from her showed not only her knowledge, but her faith! She was exhibiting what Jesus called "great" faith, for she believed He could perform her request with only a word!

Jesus acknowledged her faith, and told her what she requested was DONE!

This was the second time Jesus acknowledged a Gentile for great faith (See Matthew 8:10), and the third time He had healed from a distance (See Matthew 8:13, and John 4:50).

We are all unworthy of God's grace. We would do well to humbly come before Him, begging forgiveness for our sins, and pleading earnestly for His help.

29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. 30 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: 31 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

When Jesus walked along with His disciples, people saw and knew Who He was. News was carried by travelers in those days. When one traveled to another city, he was expected to bring news. Therefore, the news of Jesus' appearances permeated the whole area.

When JEsus and the disciples came to the mountains around the Sea of Galilee, crowds even followed Him there.

Jesus' compassion is shown in that "He healed them." This caused quite a stir, and even MORE people came! The topic of conversation among them was the miraculous manner in which Jesus healed. Even the lame walked and the blind were given sight. Thus, "the God of Israel" was glorified!

God is still in the healing business today. Not only does He heal physically, but God's greatest desire is to heal men spiritually! Those who are crippled by sin and blind to the truth of God - Jesus desires to HEAL!

And those who are healed GLORIFY GOD!

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. 33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? 34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. 35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 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. 37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Jesus' compassion reached beyond healing to providing! God wants to do MORE for us than save us from sin. He wants to provide for us so that we can be witnesses to His marvelous grace in this world. He also is providing a place of eternal rest from sin.

Jesus had fed FIVE thousand in Matthew 14, and the disciples should not have wondered at Him being able to feed these in the mountains. But they still questioned providing food.

However, they found 7 biscuits and a "few little fishes." Jesus gave thanks to God for the provision, and then gave the food to the disciples to pass out among the people.

Again, "little is much when God is in it!" These 7 biscuits and a few small fish were ENOUGH! In fact they were MORE than enough!

Four thousand men, "beside women and children" ate and were filled. Then SEVEN leftover baskets of food were taken up from the people.

Remember, when God instructs you to do something, and you think you don't have ENOUGH; just ask Him to BLESS it!!

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

Matthew 16
1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

After feeding the four thousand, Jesus boarded a ship and went to the area of Magdala. Mark 8:10 refers to this place as "Dalmanutha." I'll leave it to you history buffs to find out where that is (Hint: probably on the SW of the Plain of Gennesaret).

Verse 39 of Matthew 15 does not end the complete sentence, so I have included verse 1 of Matthew 16. In Dalmanutha, Jesus was again faced with the Pharisees, but they brought along some Saducees. As explained before, the Pharisees and Saducees were constantly at each other's throats. The Pharisees believed in a resurrection and judgment, but the Saducees did not.

Now these two groups game together to "tempt" Jesus. The manner of their temptation was to ask for a "sign from heaven."

Now you'll hafta read the next chapter to find out about that!

PLEASE CONTINUE WITH US IN BIBLE STUDY TOMORROW.