Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
(a) Pharisees; see entry for Matt. 3:7.
(b) Scribes; see entry for Matt. 5:20.
“Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
The traditions of the elders refer to the teachings of Jewish teachers and sages that had been orally handed down. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for putting more emphases on these teachings than the commandment of God (see next verse).
And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
God. Most of the time when Jesus spoke about God, he called him Father (see entry for Luke 2:49). But when speaking to the religious leaders and those under law, he sometimes called him God (theos).
“For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’
Honor. Some believe they must hate their parents because of what Jesus said in Luke 14:26. But Jesus doesn’t want us to hate anyone (Matt 5:43–44), and our parents are worthy of honor.
he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
The word of God in this context is the law, specifically the fifth commandment (see Matt. 15:4).
The word of God is the means by which God reveals himself and his will. In the old covenant, God communicated his will to Israel through the Ten Commandments and the law. However, the religious Jews twisted the law to suit their traditions. By doing this the nullified the word of God.
Further reading: The Word of God.
And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”
Mercy is how grace appears to the needy. See entry for Mercy.
(b) The son of David was another name for the Messiah. See entry for Matt. 1:1.
But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
“Lord, help me!” This woman had a revelation that our God is a God who helps, and the chief way he helps us is by revealing his love and power through his Son. See entry for Heb. 13:6.
Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
Your faith is great. Like the centurion of Matthew 8:10, the Canaanite woman had a revelation of God’s goodness that was greater than most.
It’s a mistake to conclude that the size of our faith matters or that we need more faith before we can access the grace of God. Even a small mustard-seed amount of faith is enough to move mountains (Matt. 17:20). We don’t need more faith as much as we need a deeper revelation of God’s love for us. It is his goodness that inspires us to trust him.
And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”
Compassion. The original word for compassion (splagchnizomai) appears a dozen times in the New Testament and in every case it is associated with the divine compassion revealed in Jesus Christ. See entry for Compassion.
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got a suggestion? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.
- Matthew 15:1
- Matthew 15:2
- Matthew 15:3
- Matthew 15:4
- Matthew 15:6
- Matthew 15:22
- Matthew 15:25
- Matthew 15:28
- Matthew 15:32