Bible Study
The Gospel of Matthew - Program 17

Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)

This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series

The elders of the Jews had added all sorts of traditions that were not God's Laws. These men had come up with things; they washed their hands clear up to the elbow very carefully. They tried to be very physically clean and very proper. There is nothing wrong with being clean, but these men were sort of super-righteous in that way, and put that ahead of the love of God, the Commandments of God and the Way of God. Jesus had to correct them about this.

Greetings, friends around the world!

The book of Matthew is one of the most important books in the Bible—in a sense the "anchor" book of the New Testament. It gives you the "flavor" of the message of God perhaps as well as any book in the entire Bible. It contains the Sermon on the Mount, which contains the essence of Christianity. So far in our study, we have come through chapter 14.

I hope you will follow along with me in your Bible. Check up on this; you will get something out of this. Open your mind and try to listen carefully to what Jesus Christ actually said. What was true Christianity—the true teachings of Jesus?

Notice, as we begin chapter 15 of the book of Matthew:

Matt. 15:1-2

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,

"Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."

The elders of the Jews had added all sorts of traditions that were not God's Laws. These men had come up with things; they washed their hands clear up to the elbow very carefully. They tried to be very physically clean and very proper. There is nothing wrong with being clean, but these men were sort of super-righteous in that way, and put that ahead of the love of God, the Commandments of God and the Way of God. Jesus had to correct them about this.

Matt. 15:3-4

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother…'"

That is a very important command today; I think all of you older folks understand that. The way many children dishonor their parents today is awful! The rottenness that children are getting on television and the Internet and from almost every source pours into their minds. Today's children drink in this attitude of disrespect, this attitude of hate and violence and lust and hedonism. Children dishonor their parents all through this society.

Matt. 15:4

"'…Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'"

Of course, we are not doing that today. We are not under the administration of death. We are under God's Law if we are really Christian, and we are not under the administration of death. God administers the death penalty—we don't! But back in the physical nation of Israel, they did do this. If men or women dishonored their parents terribly and did curse them, then they would be put to death and the whole nation would hear and fear. This would simply stamp out the "smart-aleck" attitude with which young people can put down their parents, make fun of them, curse them and sometimes even kill them. We read quite often in the media about young people who kill their parents because their parents had tried to crack down on them—to give them some guidelines or rules or discipline. So Jesus was teaching something very important. He showed what God's Law had said.

Matt. 15:5

"But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, 'Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God [has been dedicated to the temple, and of course the religious leaders would then get that]…

You ought to honor your father and mother. As they get older, perhaps help them financially and take care of them, which is part of honoring them.

Matt. 15:6

"'then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition."

"You have made the commandment of God of no effect." Jesus indicated that the Commandments of God were very much in effect. They were not nailed to the cross and they were not going to be "nailed to the cross," as we shall see before we finish this book.

Matt. 15:7-9

"Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me…'"

Can you worship Christ—can you worship God—in vain? Yes, He said you could. "In vain they worship Me," Jesus said. That is what He said right here—read it!

Matt. 15:9

"…Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

That is how you worship Him in vain. You bring in your own human ideas about how to worship God. Our entire, so-called Christian society, has done that repeatedly. And the so-called Christianity today is very seldom the Christianity of the Bible. You really need to grasp that fact. That is a VERY important concept.

At this time I would like to offer you a booklet on that topic, absolutely free. It is called Restoring Apostolic Christianity. This is a tremendously important topic. This booklet shows you what the Christianity of Christ and the Christianity of the Apostles was really about. So please contact us and ask for this booklet. It will be sent to you absolutely FREE. It is a relatively short booklet here, just 33 pages. You could read it easily in one sitting. Drink in of it, compare it with your Bible and you will find quote after quote, not just from the Bible, but from history, showing how human beings in the so-called Dark Ages, under the so-called church fathers, changed everything about the teaching of Christ and the Apostles and brought in a different Christianity—a false Christianity. This booklet shows you what true Christianity is. It spells it right out. So be sure to contact us and request your FREE copy of this vital booklet, Restoring Apostolic Christianity.

Matt. 15:9-11

"'And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."

Christ was being challenged about His disciples eating with unwashed hands, getting a little bit of dust, maybe, in their food. He said that is not a big deal.

Matt. 15:11-13

"Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Then His disciples came and said to Him, 'Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted."

God had not established these Jewish sects. He had not established these groups among them who set themselves up as religious authorities, and Christ has not established most of the churches or religious institutions today, because they do not teach His ways and His Laws at all. It is very easy to prove that; they disregard what He said. They go exactly contrary to what He said, and they have not been established by Him. So He says "He has not planted them and they will be uprooted."

Matt. 15:14

"Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. [That is an important concept, my friends. Blind leaders of the blind.] And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

Think about that. If people are blind, as most religious leaders frankly are—if they are just going along with this society and with mainstream Christianity, and just promulgating the idea "Just believe on Jesus and then do whatever else you want to do"—they are blind. Most are not just deliberately evil, they just don't get it. "And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

Matt. 15:15-17

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?"

In other words, if you don't wash your hands thoroughly before every meal (although it is a good idea to do that, but it is not some religious thing that you have to do) you get a little dust in your food, then that dust is eliminated; it is not going to hurt you spiritually.

Matt. 15:18-19

"But those things which proceed out of the mouth [The attitude that comes out: putting other people down, cursing God's name, hurting people, damaging people, showing an attitude of disrespect for God and His commands—whatever comes out of the mouth—that will defile a man.] come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications…"

Think about this; Christ is not just against murders and adulteries—we know that. He is against fornication. Yet, we find in recent reports from The American Demographics magazine that about 8.5 million Americans are living in fornication. They are not just fornicating, they are LIVING in fornication. They say that figure is about to explode! Perhaps five or ten million more Americans will join that, just starting to live together, having no regard for the Laws of God at all. Adultery and fornication are condemned by Christ.

Matt. 15:19-21

"…thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." [That is not a big deal before God.] Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

You read about this Canaanite woman coming with her daughter who was demon possessed. She asked Jesus to heal the child.

Matt. 15:23-24

But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Christ was supposed to preach primarily to the Israelites. They were the ones that God was calling at that time. Again, God is not trying to save the whole world now. Otherwise, Jesus would be saying: "Give your heart to Me now." He did not do that.

Matt. 15:25-27

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord…"

Watch this woman's humility-and her faith that there was a real God and that Christ was His servant. She could have grown nasty about this and said, "How dare you do that, you rotten man, putting me down like this." Instead, she humbled herself before the one who was the Messiah. She may not even have fully known that He was the Messiah because His own disciples did not fully realize that either. But she knew that He was a great servant of God, and she humbled herself. That is a lesson to all of us.

Matt. 15:27-28

"…yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." [Just like she was a little dog.] Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! [Boy, it takes a lot of faith and humility to say something like that. "Whatever it is Lord, I will do it. I will just be a little dog—PLEASE HEAL MY CHILD. I know you can do it."] O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Even though she was a Gentile (and she was not being called yet at that time) Christ intervened and had compassion when she showed that determination, that humility and that faith.

Matt. 15:29-36

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. [The Holy Spirit was flowing through Him and He healed all these people.] So the multitude marveled [and they glorified the God of Israel]. Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days [So, He had them gather the people together and fed them, as you know; they found seven loaves and a little bit of fish here, a couple of fish. He gave thanks.] And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.

A great multitude of people all ate and were filled, and seven large baskets full of fragments were left. From this tiny little bit of food, they fed all these people.

Matt. 15:38

Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

When Jesus fed the "five thousand" there might actually have been three to six times as many there, depending upon how many children were there. We know they had large families, and they did not have babysitting services back then. So a lot of kids were probably there too. The crowd could have been ten to fifteen thousand people.

Matt. 15:39

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.

This was Jesus the Christ—and He was teaching that we are not to follow the traditions of men but to humble ourselves, have faith in God no matter what, and seek God like this Gentile woman did. Then God will bless us powerfully that we will learn to do what He said.

Again, I urge you to contact us and request the FREE booklet we have for you on Restoring Apostolic Christianity. It is a vital booklet—one of the most important booklets we have ever published. It covers the whole concept of true Christianity. So contact us and this booklet will be sent to you absolutely FREE.

This is Roderick Meredith, speaking once again for the Living Church of God. See you next time!