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Matthew 15:1. Of Jerusalem.—From Jerusalem (see R.V.). Probably a deputation from the Sanhedrin sent expressly to watch Him.
Matthew 15:2. Transgress the tradition.—The Jews attached greater value to tradition than even to the written law, appealing in support of it to Deuteronomy 4:14; Deuteronomy 17:10 (Meyer). Wash not their hands.—The custom of washing the hands before a meal was not only a cleanly and desirable one, but was rendered absolutely necessary by the habits of the East, which involve the dipping of all hands into a common dish. But it is obvious that occasions would arise in which the nature of a meal, which might consist of dry bread and fruit, or some pressing urgency, or some difficulty of obtaining water at the moment, might render the custom impossible. Even Talmudists admit that handwashing is needless if the hands be clean (Farrar). Jesus did not reject this tradition, viewing it merely as a custom (which was also common among the Persians, Greeks, and Romans). He only refused to recognise it as a binding or religious ordinance, and hence omitted it in urgent circumstances (Lange).
Matthew 15:3. Why do ye also transgress … by your tradition?—Because of (R.V.). The “also” must be noted. It admits that there was some kind of transgression on the part of His disciples—transgression of a human injunction. But it asserts that, on the part of the scribes and Pharisees, there was transgression too, though in a far higher plane of things; and, what was of very serious significance, transgression on account of their tradition. The Saviour thus, as Luther remarks, meets the bolt of their question by a counterbolt, which, as it is driven home, pushes out theirs, till it falls to the ground (Morison).
Matthew 15:4. Die the death.—The expression “let him die the death” is idiomatic, but now obsolete. It is intended to be emphatic—let him die the death (which is the appropriate penalty of such a crime). The Hebrew expression is also idiomatic, and idiomatically emphatic; and so is the Greek expression, which literally means “let him come to his end by death” (ibid.).
Matthew 15:5. It is a gift.—Rather, let it be a gift, or “devoted to sacred uses,” which the Jews expressed by the word Corban, found in Mark 7:11. The scribes held that these words, even when pronounced in spite and anger against parents who needed succour, excused the son from his natural duty; and, on the other hand, did not oblige him really to devote the sum to the service of God or of the temple (Carr).
Matthew 15:5-40.15.6 (see R. V.). Made the commandment of God of none effect.—Were this clause literally translated it would run thus: And ye abrogated the law of God because of your tradition! The Saviour speaks with indignation—mingling into His words a withering element of irony, which may be partially indicated to the English reader by an exclamation point at the close (Morison).
Matthew 15:9. Doctrines … commandments.—Neither word is quite adequately rendered. The “doctrines” are not articles of faith, propositions to be believed, but precepts which were taught as binding. The “commandments” are single, special rules, as contrasted with the Divine “commandment,” which was exceedingly broad (Plumptre).
Matthew 15:10. He called the multitude.—The moment our Lord turns to the people, His teaching is by parables. This appeal to the multitude as worthier than the Pharisees to receive the Divine truths is significant of the popular character of the kingdom of heaven (Carr).
Matthew 15:11. Defileth.—This principle virtually invalidated the whole mass of the Old Testament legislation which had reference to defilement through external influences and conditions (Wendt).
Matthew 15:12. The Pharisees were offended.—A proof of the influence of the Pharisees. The disciples believed that Christ would be concerned to have offended those who stood so high in popular favour (Carr).
Matthew 15:13. Every plant, etc.—Not a wild flower, but a cultivated plant or tree. Here the plant cultivated by human hands—the vine that is not the true vine of Israel—is the doctrine of the Pharisees (Carr). At the same time we should also bear in mind what was said in 13 about the identification of individuals with the doctrines which they professed (Lange)
Matthew 15:14. Blind leaders of the blind.—It would appear from Romans 2:19 that the phrase “a leader of the blind” was one in common use to describe the ideal of the Rabbi’s calling. Now they heard it in a new form, which told them that their state was the very reverse of that ideal. And that which was worst in it was that their blindness was self-chosen (Matthew 13:15), and that they were yet all unconscious of it, and boasted that they saw (John 9:41) (Plumptre).
Matthew 15:15. This parable.—The parable (R.V.). The answer shows that Peter’s question referred not to the proverb that immediately preceded, but to what seemed to him the strange, startling utterance of Matthew 15:11. It was significant that he could not as yet take in the thought that it was a truth to be received literally (Plumptre). The language of Matthew 15:11 is not strictly a parable, but it has a feature of the parable proper in that invisible things are represented under visible images, the ceremonial defilement of the Mosaic law being used as an image to indicate, by contrast, the moral defilement of the heart (Mansel).
Matthew 15:16. Ye.—Emphatic. Slowness of spiritual apprehension in His genuine disciples grieves the Saviour; from others He expects no better (Matthew 13:11) (Brown).
Matthew 15:17. The draught.—The word is used in its old English meaning, as equivalent to “drain,” “sewer,” “cesspool” (see 2 Kings 10:27). The principle here implied is, that a process purely physical from first to last cannot in itself bring any moral defilement (Plumptre).
Matthew 15:5-40.15.6. Release by “Corban.”—So great was the solemnity attached to vows, whether they were rightly or wrongly made, that the Rabbins were prepared to argue that it was of less importance that parents should be honoured than that a vow should be broken. It is the universal penalty that follows on attaching undue importance to forms, that presently they come to override even the great natural laws of human associations, and the Divinely announced commandments of the Decalogue. Ecclesiastical rules come to be valued above Divine laws; and ecclesiastical rules can be made to excuse the neglect of the first and essential human duties. This rabbinical custom is not, however, generally understood, and, indeed, it is so repulsive to all men of noble and generous feeling that it is difficult to secure for it a patient consideration. It seems to have been established as a principle that any man was at liberty to make a vow consecrating his property, or any portion of it, to the service of the temple, after his decease, or even during his life, with the understanding that he would keep the use of it so long as he needed. Properly speaking, such “devotements” ought always to be thank-offerings for special mercies received, and they ought only to have been accepted when they had such a religious feeling inspiring them. But such a custom of “devotements” was open to serious abuse by unprincipled men. If a man’s property was in peril of being seized by his creditor, he could at least save the life-use of it by making it a gift to the temple. And if any special claim—as by parents or brothers—was made on a certain portion of his property, he successfully evaded the claim by affirming that the particular portion had been devoted, by a vow, to the service of God. “Corban” denotes anything offered to God, or the service of the temple. “Almost every possession a man had might be rendered “Corban” by him, even his own person; and, when once offered to God, the article was sacred, and could on no account be turned to a secular use until redeemed. All that was necessary was that a man should say respecting a given thing “May this be as the temple to me”; or, “as the altar,” etc.; or, “as the (sacred) fire,” etc.; or, “as the sacrifice to me.” Thereupon a man, being displeased with his aged or poor parents, might free himself from all obligation to support them by merely pronouncing one of these forms; and then, when either father or mother appealed to him for aid, he would say, “Whatever I might have bestowed on you is now Corban.” And the Pharisees, as Christ complains, insisted on the fulfilment of this execrable vow, even though it necessitated the violation of natural instinct, as well as the command, “Honour thy father and thy mother.” In fact there was no duty a villain might not shun by this infamous procedure. The Talmud actually teaches that every one ought to honour his father and his mother, or to support them if they were poor, unless he has vowed to the contrary. We cannot wonder that such abominable doctrines excited our Lord’s utmost indignation, and drew from Him one of His severest censures.—(R. Tuck, B.A.).
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Matthew 15:1-40.15.20
Jesus in controversy.—We seem to have further indications here of the growing fame of Jesus of Nazareth. Even in distant and haughty Jerusalem some of the most learned and zealous of its inhabitants (Matthew 15:1) have heard of His teaching; and are present now for the purpose of engaging in controversy with Him. Truly characteristic, also, of their teaching is the subject of their dispute, being only, in fact, a mere outward question of ceremonial tradition (see Matthew 15:2). The Saviour, in reply, deals, first, with the occasion itself; and then, secondly, with certain difficulties to which it gave occasion in turn.
I. The occasion itself.—He begins, e.g. by pointing out to His questioners the disloyalty of their inquiry. Why do My disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? There is another question comes first. Why do ye act as ye do? Why do ye use words in such a way as practically to prevent men from doing their duty to their parents? The word of God is plain enough on this subject, and strong enough too (see Matthew 15:4, “let him die the death”). Why do ye set it aside? Why teach men by a subterfuge how not to do what God has told them to do? (Matthew 15:5-40.15.6). Next, the Saviour points out to them plainly the hypocrisy of their conduct. This excessive zeal about cleanness of skin was a thing of the surface alone. There was nothing corresponding to it—there was much opposed to it—within. The prophet Isaiah had long ago foreseen this, when he said as in Matthew 15:8. This must be so, indeed, in such a case as that at present discussed. Wherever men put the “teachings” of men on the same level with the teachings of God, especially where they do so in connection with the “worship” (Matthew 15:9) of God, and as a mark of zeal in His service, they (naturally) do so “in vain.” Worse than “in vain” in fact; so as to give Him offence. Why should He be pleased with that which is only done in pretence? Lastly, the Saviour points out the ignorance involved in this fault. Ignorance so great as to lead the Saviour (apparently) to seek to deliver from it not only teachers but taught. “Calling” the “multitude” to Him, He says to them, Hear the truth on this point. Hear how opposed it is to all that these teachers have usually taught you about it. It is not “that which entereth into a man” which is to be thought of the first. Rather, and instead, it is that which “proceedeth out” of him which is to be thought of the first. What his mouth says, in short, not what it feeds on, is that which defiles. This is the truth—the primary truth which their teaching ignores.
II. After the occasion.—Here the Master is found dealing, not with His enemies, but His friends. Certain difficulties appear to have arisen in the minds of His disciples from what they have heard. The first of these has to do with the question of authority. Knowest Thou that that concluding saying of Thine about that which defiles, gave great offence to the Pharisees? That they were absolutely “scandalised” by it, in fact? Dost Thou, therefore, in the face of this—so their question may be understood to imply—adhere to it still? The Saviour’s answer shows plainly and emphatically that He did. “Every plant which My heavenly Father planted not shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). By that test I abide. To that proof I appeal. Do not ye, therefore, trouble yourselves as to what these Pharisees say. But understand, rather, that for those who follow them it will be as bad as for them (Matthew 15:14). That difficulty disposed of, another arises—a difficulty of comprehension. There is something here, the Apostle Peter seems to feel, which we do not understand as we ought. This “saying” of Thine about that which “defiles” is but a “parable” to us at present. Wilt Thou not then “declare” to us its meaning and truth? (Matthew 15:15). This difficulty is met—not without a touch of reproachfulness (Matthew 15:16)—by two appeals to themselves. By an appeal, on the one hand, to what they knew about the nature of food. Perceive ye not what happens to food when taken in at the mouth—where it passes to—how it passes away—and how, therefore, it affects nothing but the body alone? By an appeal, on the other hand, to what they knew of men’s hearts. Did they not know the kind of things which came forth from the “heart”? The “evil thoughts,” on the one hand, to which they pointed as their origin? The evil actions and words of all sorts, on the other hand, to which they gave birth; and by which, therefore, all that inward evil was at once evidenced and increased? This was the thing, this outward passage of evil, which, beginning with much pollution, and ending with more, “defiled” all it passed through. The evil of “eating bread with unwashen hands” was not to be named by its side (Matthew 15:18-40.15.20).
How thoroughly radical, therefore, if man is to be reformed at all must be the reformation of his nature! And by how mighty a hand must it be effected, if effected at all! For the truth on this point, see Psalms 51:0, beginning of Matthew 15:6. For the only proper prayer, therefore, in connection with it, see Psalms 51:10.
HOMILIES ON THE VERSES
Matthew 15:1-40.15.2. Traditions.—
1. It is no new thing that Christ hath adversaries, and these, chiefly, corrupt churchmen, even such as bear office in places most famous for religion; for here are scribes and Pharisees which were of Jerusalem going about to divert disciples from following Christ, and to put a disgrace, if they could, on our Lord, for His disciples’ cause.
2. It is no wonder to see Christ and His church molested with the controvery of nonconformity in human inventions of religion. “Why do Thy disciples transgress the traditions?” say they.
3. Antiquity and Fathers, without Scripture, is the old charter of superstitious formalists. “Why,” say they, “do Thy disciples transgress the traditions of the elders?”
4. That which is lawful in itself while it abideth within the limits of civil fashions, may be left undone, and be discountenanced, when it is set up in state, within the limits of religion; therefore the disciples did not wash their hands before meat, in the company of Pharisees, who made washing at that time to be a holy and religious act.—David Dickson.
Matthew 15:1-40.15.3. Technical fault-finding.—It is always—
I. Punctilious and trivial.
II. External and superficial.
III. Associated with a wrong condition of heart.
IV. Opposed to the spirit of Jesus Christ.—J. Parker, D.D.
Matthew 15:2. Hand-washing.—The Pharisees had elevated ablutions, and even the minutest regulations about the method of performing them, into a matter of religion. A whole order of the Talmud—that called Taharôth, or Purifications—is devoted to washings; and two separate tracts of it, Mikvâoth, or “baths,” and Yadaîm, or “hand-washings,” deal especially with cleansings of the person. These ablutions were extended to all kinds of objects, and in later days were accompanied by elaborate liturgies of recognised prayers. Indeed, so ultra-Pharisaic was this branch of Pharisaism, that it originated the rest of the Sadducees, who, seeing their opponents washing the golden candlestick, said that soon they would not be content until they could wash the sun!—F. W. Farrar, D.D.
Eating with unwashen hands.—Rabbi Joses determined that to eat with unwashen hands is as great a sin as adultery. And Rabbi Akiba, being kept a close prisoner, having water sent him, both to wash his hands with and to drink with his meat, the greatest part being accidentally shed, he washed his hands with the remainder, though he left himself none to drink, saying he would rather die than transgress the tradition of the elders.—M. Henry.
Imaginary defilement.—Christ, no doubt, would exceed all scribes and Pharisees in the love of real cleanliness and cleanness, inner and outer. But He felt constrained to lay His ban upon the imaginary virtue that was supposed to be inherent in the act of removing imaginary uncleanness. It was supposed that there was a demon called Shibta, “which sits upon men’s hands during night; and if any person touches his food with unwashed hands, then that demon sits upon his food, and makes it dangerous.” (Rab. Taanith, fol. xx. 2).—J. Morison, D.D.
Matthew 15:3. The traditions of men and the commandments of God.—
1. Traditions may be fathered or mothered on those that maintain them, no less than on those who invented them; for Christ saith, “Why do ye by your traditions transgress?”
2. Such as are most zealous for human traditions shall readily be found transgressors and contemners of Divine commands, and God’s traditions given by Scripture.
3. When the authority of human traditions doth loose or weaken the obligatory power of a moral command in anything, it may and should be despised altogether and rejected, as unworthy to be a rule for a man’s carriage in anything.—David Dickson.
Matthew 15:4-40.15.6. The claims of parents.—
1. The duty of children unto parents is straitly urged by God’s command, and the wicked transgression of it is made capital.
2. It is a part of the honour due to parents that children sustain them in need as they are able, for not helping is here as much as not honouring their father or mother.
3. Such traditions as, directly or by consequence, do prejudge the true intent of any of God’s laws (whatsoever pretence of religion be made) are wicked, for He saith, “You by your traditions have made the command of God of none effect.”
4. No gift nor voluntary offering presented unto God doth please Him, when the duty of love owing to others is neglected or contravened thereby, for Christ calls such a gift a breach of the fifth commandment.
5. Dispensation with God’s law by human authority and urging of men’s traditions more than of God’s commands, is, in effect, the abolishing of God’s law (Matthew 15:6).—Ibid.
Matthew 15:5-40.15.6. Unholy antagonisms.—
I. There ought to be no conflict between the Divine and social claims.—The family has its claims; society has its claims; God has His claims, and they are all righteous. They are all on the same line of rectitude. There ought to be no conflict between them. This conflict exists among us because the claims of society are often unjust. God’s claims are never unjust.
II. Those who most devoutly recognise the Divine claims are the most faithful in their discharge of social claims.
III. The discharge of the one kind of claims should not be used as a pretext for the neglect of the others.—J. Owen.
Matthew 15:7-40.15.8. The hypocrite.—I. How far a hypocrite goes.—He draws nigh to God and honours Him; he is, in profession, a worshipper of God.
II. Where He rests and takes up.—This is done but with His mouth and with His lips; it is piety but from the teeth outwards.
III. What that is wherein he comes short.—It is in the main matter, “their heart is far from Me.”—M. Henry.
Matthew 15:7. Isaiah and Christ.—I. The importance of plain speaking on all questions affecting the interests of truth. Jesus Christ was pre-eminently a plain speaker. In the text He calls certain persons hypocrites. He does not say behind their backs that they were hypocrites, but He looked straight at them and right through them, and said, “Ye hypocrites.” If we had more such plain speaking it would be an advantage to us all. Two things are required in the plain speaker:—
1. Personal rightness.—“Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”
2. Moral fearlessness.—Our courage is not always equal to our convictions.
II. The far-seeing spirit of prophecy.—Jesus Christ said to the men of His day, “Esaias prophesied of you.” Observe the unity of the moral world; observe the unchangeableness of God’s laws; see how right is ever right and wrong is ever wrong; how the centuries make no difference in the quality of righteousness, and fail to work any improvement in the deformity of evil.
III. The high authority of the righteous censor.—Anon.
Matthew 15:8. True prayer.—The power of a petition is not in the roof of the mouth, but in the root of the heart.—Trapp.
Matthew 15:10-40.15.11. Moral pollution.—
1. Contesting against Christ’s disciples, slandering and reproaching of such as do not observe human traditions, is a pollution of the slanderer, and more dangerous than the omission of human ceremonies, which may be omitted without pollution of sin. “That which cometh out of the mouth polluteth.”
2. Albeit unto mocking adversaries we need not always give reasons of what we do or omit, yet unto indifferent spectators, it is good to give a reason, for their edification and our own clearing, as here Christ giveth satisfaction to the common people.
3. The fountain of the pollution of a man’s actions is his heart, conscience, and affections, not being rightly disposed.—David Dickson.
Man’s morality not affected by man’s receptivity.—This fact:—
I. Refutes the sophism that crime is necessitated by circumstances.
II. Charges upon man the responsibility of his own words.
III. Shows that every man is the source of his own character and influence.—J. Parker, D.D.
Matthew 15:13. God the Uprooter.—
I. The disciples needed this lesson—That they might not be startled by the fading away of much which had seemed to them fair and vigorous, but still more that they might understand what there was in the Jewish soil which could not be rooted out—what there was that would spread its fibres more widely, genially, and send out higher branches, wherein the fowls of the air might dwell. The sect of the Pharisees, our Lord says, His heavenly Father hath not planted. The disciples of Jesus learnt gradually from His lips that they were called and chosen out to preach to their own countrymen that the Son of David and the Son of Abraham had come to bind together in one publicans and sinners—Jews, Galileans, Samaritans. With this message they were to go forth to Jews and Gentiles. As they bore it, they soon discovered that the natural and necessary antagonists of it were the sects; that Sadducees and Pharisees hated it equally; that they saw in it the destruction of the sect-principle; that they felt they could only maintain even a temporary ascendancy by fighting with this rival as for life and death. Then, when they found how mighty this sect-principle was, and what numbers were pledged to it, they must have recollected the words which had been spoken to them: “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted out.”
II. There is a plant in your heart and mine which our heavenly Father has not planted, and which must be rooted out. It is that same plant of self-seeking, of opinionativeness, of party-spirit, which has shed its poison over the church and over the world. It springs in us from that same root of unbelief in One who is the Head of us all, whose life is the common life of all, out of which all sects and parties have proceeded.—F. D. Maurice, M.A.
Matthew 15:14. Blind leaders of the blind.—
1. Obstinate maintainers of false doctrine and of corrupt traditions, enemies to Christ and His disciples, are given over of God, and are worthy also to be given over, and let alone by men, i.e. fellowship is not to be kept with them.
2. Where the teachers and people follow mere traditions in religion, and not the rule of God’s word, the leaders and they that are led are both blind.
3. The following of false teachers and blind guides will not be an excuse before God for people to plead immunity; but seeing none should follow any man, but as that man doth follow the Lord, the blind guide and the blind follower shall both perish, if they hold on in their wrong way.—David Dickson.
Matthew 15:19. Crime in germ.—Human law takes notice of acts, not of dispositions. God’s law determines everything by the motive or purpose which leads to action.
1. “Thou shalt not kill.” Killing is not mere blood-shedding. Anger without cause is murder. Oppression of the weak is murder. Depriving a man of the means of getting a livelihood, to gratify his revenge is murder. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”
2. “Thou shalt not steal.” A man may rob God as well as his neighbour. He who wastes his employer’s time is a thief. He who withholds just praise is a thief. He who detracts from the just honour of his fellow-man is a thief. He who vows and does not pay is a thief.
3. “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” False witness is lying. But what is lying? You may repeat the very words of a speaker, and yet misreport him! How? By putting upon his words an emphasis not his own. You infuse into the emphasis your own passion or purpose. The words are his, the tone is yours! Take the words “When I come, I will come with a rod”; they may be spoken with tenderness and reluctance, they may also be so emphasised as to denote pettishness or even vengeance. He who tells an incomplete tale, involving the reputation of another, bears false witness. So does he (negatively) who lacks courage to defend an injured man, for whom he could say a word of explanation. Now, strange as it may seem, the three crimes of which we have been speaking are spiritually similar, and almost identical. He who kills, steals life; he who steals life is prepared to bear false witness; he who bears false witness both steals and kills. As, therefore, sin is in the sight of God a question of the heart, and not merely a question of the hands, there arises an inquiry of the keenest practical interest. “How are we to reach the disease which is consuming our spiritual life?” We cannot reach it! Is it then never to be reached? When we put this question in earnest, we are prepared to hear the glorious gospel. So long as we think we can wash the evil off our hands in any one of the world’s rivers, we do not feel our want of a gospel. That want is felt only in proportion to our conviction that sin is in our very souls, that it penetrates every fibre, and poisons every spring and energy of our being. Seeing what is meant by the spirituality of sin, we shall feel our need of Divine help. Nay, more than help, God must undertake the whole case for us. He has done so. See the Cross! There is a sacrifice which touches sin before sin comes into action—touches it in the heart—touches it as a germ. Then see the ministry of the Holy Ghost! That ministry operates upon the very life of life, upon the first pulsation and breathings of our spiritual nature. We have only to see ourselves as we really are, to see our need of the sacrifice, and our dependence upon the Spirit.—J. Parker, D.D.
Matthew 15:21. Departed.—Withdrew (R.V.) for retirement (Mark 7:24). Coasts.—Parts (R.V.). The reference is apparently to the places of Galilee that bordered on the narrow strip of maritime land in which Tyre and Sidon were situated (Morison). Tyre and Sidon.—Phœnician cities, sea-ports, great commercial emporiums, and of great antiquity. They are only about twenty miles apart from one another, Tyre being the more northerly of the two. At the time of our Saviour’s sojourn, they were still in a comparatively flourishing condition (ibid.).
Matthew 15:22. A woman of Canaan.—Called in Mark “a Greek, a Syrophœnician by nation.” The two expressions are identical, for the land of Canaan, literally, the low lands or netherlands, at first applicable to the whole of Palestine, was confined in later times to the maritime plain of Phœnicia (Carr). Vexed with a devil.—St. Mark says the young girl had or was held by an unclean spirit. This clearly puts the case into the same category as that of the boy brought by his father to the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration. The theory which would attribute “possession” always to moral causes in the subjects of it, will not cover these instances. Young people of that age could not be among the desperately wicked in whom Satan ruled through their own evil will. Some terrible physical or hereditary malady was the seat or organ of the demonic power (Laidlaw).
Matthew 15:26. Dogs.—The word used was diminutive in its form and as such pointed not to the wild, unclean beasts that haunt the streets of an Eastern city (Psalms 59:6), but to the tamer animals that were bred in the house and kept as pets (Plumptre).
Matthew 15:27. Truth, Lord: yet.—Yea, Lord: for even (R.V.). The woman catches at the diminutive form which had softened the usual word of scorn, and presses the privilege which it implied (ibid.).
Matthew 15:28. Great is thy faith.—Thus showing that, in the one main point, she was one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Matthew 15:21-40.15.28
Jesus in banishment.—Amongst the many striking features in this beautiful story, perhaps the most striking is to be found in the contrast between its beginning and end. At the beginning we find the Saviour again “retiring” (see Matthew 15:21; cf. Matthew 14:13) from where He usually laboured; and going away as far as to the heathen region near “Tyre and Sidon” (Matthew 15:21); and also being anxious, when arrived there, that “no man should know it” (Mark 7:24). These were hardly things to encourage any one in applying to Him for help, least of all a woman who seems to have been brought up in religion as a “Greek” (Mark 7:26), and to have belonged by birth to one of the hostile nations of Canaan (Matthew 15:22). Yet, at the end, we find the Saviour saying even to her, “Be it done to thee as thou wilt.” It will be interesting to notice the succession of steps by which she arrived at that height; and also to trace out the succession of causes to which these advances were due.
I. The succession of steps.—The first step was permission to make known her request. This was conveyed only, it is perfectly true, in a negative way. To some, indeed, at first, this “step” may hardly appear to be at all worthy of being called by that name. When she cried to Him as the “Son of David” to “have mercy upon her,” He answered her not; not even, for the time, by so much as a “word” (Matthew 15:23). Yet, even so, it is to be observed that, in so doing, He did not send her away. If there was no word of direct encouragement, neither was there of despair. Not to answer at all is not to answer “no”—even if we take things at their worst. And this at least, therefore, this woman obtained by this, her first step, viz., that her “right to petition” was not denied. Her next step was that of obtaining an answer; though not, it is true, at first sight of a very encouraging look; and only vouchsafed, even so, in an indirect way. Still it was something to see that the Saviour and His disciples were conferring together about her application and case. Evidently these cries of hers had not been quite without fruit. Still more evident was this when we listen to that which these disciples are saying to Jesus about her. As a matter of fact they are so disturbed by what she is saying that they desire Him earnestly—that they even “beseech” Him—to “send her away” (Matthew 15:23). Even, also, in the answer which He gives to this entreaty, if looked at steadily, though at first it appears as a simple refusal to do anything for her, there is that which, to one in her extremity, has something of encouragement in it. “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” For saying that, after all, is not acquiescing in what the disciples had asked. It is not openly bidding her to “go away” as they had so earnestly asked. It is simply leaving her free, instead, if she so desire it, to go on with her cry. And this, moreover, notwithstanding the fact (made plain as it was by the nature of the Saviour’s reply about her to the disciples) that the exact nature and purport of her cry had been both attended to and perceived. Jesus knew what she was doing when He thus openly refrained from bidding her cease! The third step was obtaining an answer addressed to herself; and that one, also, which though harsh in appearance, carried with it at least an indistinct intimation of hope. “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.” For what was this answer but saying, in effect, that others came first? And what did this mean, on the other side, but that there was something afterwards, if not much, for those who came second. Naturally, therefore, the last step was the highest of all. From this tacit admission to open action was not a very long stride. From allowing that there was room for mercy to actually showing it was but a short step in His eyes. And from showing it at all to showing it fully was hardly anything more. See, I have heard thee! See, here is thy answer! See, it is all thou hast asked for! How like a king to say that!
II. The succession of causes which led to this succession of gains. These would seem to be three. The first, probably, was that singularly open confession of faith with which this “stranger” began. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David” We know how deeply He was touched by a similar confession soon after on the part of a disciple (Matthew 16:17). How greatly, also, still further on in His story, by something which was equivalent to it of some who were strangers (John 12:20-43.12.23). Equally, therefore, in secret would this confession tell on Him now. How could He finally refuse one who thus openly addressed Him as the Saviour of all? A second secret of the success obtained by this woman appears to have lain in her most extraordinary and irrepressible perseverance in prayer. The more the disciples wished her to go away, the less she went, as it were. The less the Saviour said to her, the more she inferred. If He did not answer her when at a distance she would try the effect of being nearer. If mere supplication was not sufficient, she would try adoration as well (Matthew 15:25). If there was anything in His answers to encourage her, she would forget everything except that (see Matthew 11:12). The last cause, and perhaps the strongest of all, was the extraordinary strength of her faith. This was shown, on the one hand, by her humility. Whatever name the Saviour applied to her, she acquiesced in its truth (Matthew 15:27). Herein being a great contrast to that disciple who, because he could not acquiesce in his Master’s description of his weakness, so nearly shipwrecked his faith (Luke 22:32; Matthew 26:33-40.26.35). Also, apparently, by her marked discrimination. The “dogs” referred to are thought to have been of that kind only (κυναρίοις) which were admitted into men’s houses. If so, her faith discerned even the atom of hope which that distinction conveyed. Lastly, it was shown by the evidently overwhelming sense which she had of Christ’s power. Even the mighty blessing she was asking from Him (Matthew 15:22) was but a “crumb” unto Him. Hence, therefore, according to the Saviour Himself, the final greatness of her success (Matthew 15:28).
The story teaches us pre-eminently, amongst other things, that none need despair. None need despair:—
1. Because of depth of distress.—What could be worse in that respect than the case relieved here (end of Matthew 15:22).
2. Because of disadvantages of position.—What could be worse—and could be made more of as well—than those found in this case.
3. Because of non-success for a time.—Did ever anything look less like success than this case did for so long? Can anything fuller be even thought of than the success it reached to at last? How often this is the case! (cf. Psalms 27:12-19.27.13; Psalms 27:6).
HOMILIES ON THE VERSES
Matthew 15:21-40.15.28. Exemplary maternal love.—In this narrative we have exemplary maternal love:—
I. Vicariously suffering.—The actual sufferings of the daughter were perhaps great, but the sufferings which the mother endured by sympathy were greater still. Vicarious sufferings are always great in proportion to the amount of love that one has in his nature. Hence the greatest sufferer on earth was Christ. He bore the sins and “carried the sorrows” of the world.
II. Importunately praying.—“Have mercy,” etc., and “Lord, help me.” Her importunity became more and more intensified as Christ appeared to disregard her case.
1. He was reticent. “He answered her not a word.”
2. He was disparaging. “I am not sent,” etc. And again, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread,” etc. But all this, instead of cooling, only intensified the ardour of her entreaties. The more importunate we are, the more qualified we become to appreciate the mercy we require. Our importunity, whilst it does not influence the Giver, qualifies the receiver for the gift.
III. Gloriously succeeding.—“O woman, great is thy faith,” etc. Why did she succeed? Not because she was importunate, but because her importunity was that of love, and not of selfishness—importunity growing out of an unbounded faith in Christ as the great Deliverer of mankind. Mothers, let the conduct of this mother become your example.—Homilist.
Matthew 15:23. Christ’s apparent indifference—Her request must be won by earnest prayer, “lest the light winning should make light the prize.”—A. Carr, M.A.
Matthew 15:27. Acquiescent yet persistent.—The woman’s remark is admirable and delightful. It is full, indeed, of true theology and real philosophy.
1. She apprehended clearly that it was right that our Lord’s personal ministry should be devoted to the Jews.
2. She apprehended as clearly that He bore a benignant relation to the Gentiles. He was not, in her opinion, a sectarian Saviour.
3. She apprehended also, clearly, that it would not in the least interfere with His ministry in relation to the Jaws, to put forth, by the way, His blessed energy in behalf of such suppliant Gentiles as herself. It would have been altogether different to have asked or wished Him to forsake the land of Palestine, and the people of the Jews, that He might consecrate His ministry exclusively, or even mainly, to Gentile populations.—J. Morison, D.D.
Christ’s word is understood by faith.—He said “No,” but he looked “Yes.”—A. Saphir, D.D.
Matthew 15:28. Discouragement and victory of faith.—All earnest souls have difficulties of some kind in seeking to realise the salvation of the gospel. Faith is tried; and because it is the greatest and best of gifts its trials are sharper and more severe.
1. To distinguish it from mere profession.
2. To show its excellency.
3. To purify it and strengthen it. The case of this woman is a remarkable one. Jesus departs into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. He touches upon the borders of heathendom, into which His fame as a wonder-worker had penetrated. There is no chance or accident in the kingdom of God. He went there with a purpose, which included this woman and her child.
1. She was not one of the covenant people.
2. She was not able to bring her afflicted child before Him.
3. Christ’s silence.
4. The disciples are troubled with her loud cries and importunity, and beg Him to dismiss her.
5. Christ’s words, “I am not come,” etc.
6. “It is not meet,” etc.
II. Victory of faith.—
1. She perseveres under all discouragements.
2. She finds (such is the keen insight of true faith) encouragement in the Lord’s words.
3. Christ’s final reply: “O woman,” etc.
1. Nothing can prevent us receiving the blessing of salvation, but unbelief. This woman a Canaanite.
2. We may bring our absent children and friends to the Lord by prayer and be successful.
3. Christ’s silence is not to be taken as indicating His mind toward us. We need the discipline of silence that we may learn patience and humility. The Lord is sovereign in the bestowal of His mercy.
4. We are not to be deterred by the apparent want of sympathy in disciples.
5. We are not to be deterred by hard or mysterious words or acts of the Lord. Doctrine of election and similar revelations are not to be a stumbling block. The word is, “Him that cometh to Me,” etc.—Jas. Kernahan, M.A., Ph.D., F.G.S.
The Syrophœnicean woman’s great faith.—This faith was great:—
I. In overcoming obstacles.
II. It was implicit trust in Christ’s word for the instantaneous cure of her absent child.
III. It was great in spiritual tact. This is the characteristic excellence on which, doubtless, the Lord’s special encomium here rested. If we are right in our exposition of His action in the case, that it was not feigned refusal, but a needful process by which alone at that point in His mission a soul outside of Israel could be led to Christ, then, the greatness of her faith lay in the quick-witted tact with which the woman perceived and accepted her relationship to the world’s Redeemer.—Prof. Laidlaw, D.D.
The true Christ.—Hours and hours Fritz and I spoke of Dr. Luther, and what he had done for us both; more, perhaps, for Fritz than even for me, because he had suffered more. It seems to me as if we and thousands besides in the world had been worshipping before an altar-picture of our Saviour, which we had been told was painted by a great master after a heavenly pattern. But all we could see was a grim, hard, stern countenance of one sitting on a judgment throne; in his hand lightnings, and worse lightnings buried in the cloud of his severe and threatening brow. And then, suddenly, we heard Dr. Luther’s voice behind us, saying, in his ringing, inspiriting tones, “Friends, what are you doing? That is not the right painting. These are only the boards which hide the Master’s picture.” And so saying, he drew aside the terrible image on which we had been hopelessly gazing, vainly trying to read some traces of tenderness and beauty there. And all at once the real picture was revealed to us, the picture of the real Christ, with the look on His glorious face which He had on the cross, when He said of His murderers, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do”; and to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son”; or to the sinful woman who washed his feet, “Go in peace.”—Chronicles of the Schönberg-Cotta Family.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Matthew 15:29-40.15.31
Jesus still from home.—We gather, from Mark 7:31, that the scene of this story lay on that side of the sea of Galilee (Matthew 15:29) where the cities of “Decapolis” were situated; and, therefore, in a country which was hardly, if at all, within the proper borders of Israel. Here as before, therefore, and most probably, also, for the same reasons as before, we find the Saviour away from His home. If He was not to cut short His ministry before His “time was come” (John 7:6) He must still keep away from those neighbourhoods where His enemies would expect Him. Anywhere, now, except where He had usually been. The precise locality now specified, also, has its importance. On the one hand, it seems to lend greater significance to the miracles wrought; on the other hand, it seems to account for the great effect they produced.
I. The miracles wrought.—For they were wrought in a neighbourhood from which, in the first place, He had been previously banished. Somewhere near here it was, in this semi-Gentile region of “Decapolis” that those keepers of swine who had lost their property through the cure of the demoniacs that had so long been a terror to the whole country-side, had prevailed upon all their neighbours, when they “saw Jesus,” to entreat Him to leave them. All they ask is that they may see Him no more (Matthew 8:34). It was for this same neighbourhood, also, notwithstanding this, that the blessed Saviour, in going away, had shown so much love, by carefully arranging that, even so, they should not be without some witness about Him. Doing this, also, by the adoption of a method which was unusual indeed on His part; the method, viz., of sending the man out of whom He had cast the legion of devils (notwithstanding his earnest desire to be allowed to go away with Him), back again to his old neighbours and friends for the express purpose of “telling” them himself what God had done for him (Luke 8:38-42.8.39, contrast Matthew 9:30-40.9.31, etc.). It would seem, therefore, that this grace of the Saviour had had its due effect on these men; and that this is the reason why we now find them as anxious to see Jesus as before they were not; and why we now read of such “great multitudes” in these parts coming unto Him; and “having with them the lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others;” and then finally “casting them down at His feet,” as though exhausted by the efforts they had made in bringing them there, and feeling also that in doing that they had done the very best in their power. It was a marvellous change, if so, on their part. And it was responded to, apparently, by an equally marvellous manifestation of power on the part of the Saviour. “He healed them” (Matthew 15:30)—He healed them all—whosoever they were. He gladly welcomed their change of mind, however tardy and late. He forgets the ingratitude of the past in the need of the present. And almost seems, in a word, to have done more abundantly now because of the fact that He could do nothing before.
II. The effect produced.—The effect, on the one hand, of even prodigious surprise. To the people on the other side of the lake, the dwellers in Capernaum and its environs, miracles such as these had by this time become almost ordinary occurrences. They beheld them, therefore, if not quite without wonder, at any rate without note. To the people of this side of the lake who had previously driven the Saviour away, they come now with the vividness of a flash. “See what it is of which we have been depriving ourselves all this long time” (see Matthew 15:31). Also the language of St. Mark in reference, apparently, to one especially complicated case of affliction and of equally complete deliverance from it, marking this particular time (Mark 7:31-41.7.37). The effect, on the other, of very fervent and singularly discriminate praise. They “glorified God”—so it is said—as well they might, for these things. They saw what was meant by such miraculous doings, especially when accompanied, as these were, by such equally miraculous love. It was God’s power, and nothing less, that lay behind all. Also, in these things, they saw that, which to these half-heathenised dwellers in Decapolis would probably come home with much power, if not, indeed, with a pang. After all “salvation was of the Jews.” It is not only to God therefore—but to “the God of Israel” that they offer their praise (end of Matthew 15:31). A happy ending indeed to what had seemed at first so exceedingly unpromising a beginning (see again Matthew 8:34).
Let the backslider, from all this, learn to return. What is gained—what is not lost—by sending Jesus away? Who, again, can be more ready than He is to return? Or can possibly bring back with Him such an abundance of gifts?
Let the doubter, from all this, learn to believe. Why we believe is not because of His miracles only, though there are none like them elsewhere; nor yet of His character only, though there is nothing elsewhere like it; but because of His miracles and His mercy combined. Nothing but Deity could—nothing but Deity would—have done as He did!
HOMILIES ON THE VERSES
Matthew 15:29-40.15.30. Christ’s grace.—
1. When Christ hath done His work in one place, He followeth His work in another place.
2. Many may come to Christ at once, without impeding one another; it is not so among men, where one must wait till another be despatched.
3. Christ standeth not how many and how desperate the cures there be that are presented unto Him. He healed them all, blind, dumb, lame, etc.
4. It is sufficient to lay our miseries before Christ; our miseries will speak for us, and He will answer us by helping us. They did but cast down the miserable at His feet, and He healed them.—David Dickson.
Matthew 15:30. At the feet of Jesus.—
1. These “lame, blind, maimed, and many others” cast down at Jesus’ feet, and lying there, remind us that Jesus is the well-defined centre of an undefined circumference. “Many others” indicate a vast number; we are glad not to know exactly how many. “At the feet of Jesus” is the place for helpless misery—yours and mine, and “many others’.”
2. Jesus came to be the ingatherer of all misery.—That which man most of all avoids, He most of all sought.
3. He healed them all.—His only alternative was to go away, or to send the people away unhealed.
4. “We cannot plead in prayer as some,” is often urged as an excuse. In answer to this we read of “multitudes” simply lying “at His feet”—and “He healed them all.” To lie at the feet of Jesus is itself prayer.—P. B. Power, M.A.
Matthew 15:29. A mountain.—Rather, the mountain country; the high land, as distinguished from the low land, which He had left (Carr). From Mark 7:31 R.V., it would appear that His journey led Him actually through Sidon.
Matthew 15:30. Cast them down at Jesus’ feet.—Indicating, according to Bengel and Meyer, their haste; according to Fitzsche and de Wette, implicit confidence; and according to Baumgarten-Crusius, the helplessness of the persons who were afflicted. But may it not at the same time indicate both the rudeness of these mountaineers and their confidence, boldness, and their rapid movements in order to bring to the feet of Jesus all who were diseased (Lange).
Matthew 15:37. Baskets.—Not the kophinoi or hand-baskets of Matthew 14:20, but spurides, denoting somewhat larger baskets. The word was often used to denote a basket or hamper for holding provisions, and in particular for holding fish (see Wetstein in loo.). Carr says the spuris was “probably a larger basket made of rope-net.” Dr. Morison suggests that on this occasion the baskets may have been extemporised from the shrubs that were growing around. See on Matthew 14:20.
Matthew 15:39. Magdala.—Magadan (R.V.). The MSS. vary between “Magdala” and “Magadan”; but the latter reading has by far the highest authority in its favour. Probably an altered form of the Hebrew Migdol = a tower. Usually identified with the modern village of El Mejdel, about three miles north of Tiberias. Dean Plumptre says: “On the assumption that “Mary called Magdalene” derived her name from a town of that name, we may think of our Lord’s visit as having been in some way connected with her presence.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Matthew 15:32-40.15.39
Jesus repeating Himself.—If we may judge from Matthew 15:39 of this chapter, and from Mark 8:10, as well as from the omission of any mention of removal on the part of the Saviour, we may suppose Him to be still on the eastern side of the lake. If so, we find Him doing on that side what He had previously done on the other side; or done previously, it may be, at its northernmost end (see on Matthew 14:13, etc.). Anyway, we have here a repetition of the original miracle of the loaves (Matthew 14:13-40.14.21). We believe that we shall find that the occurrence of this second miracle at once gave greater certainty and greater importance to both.
I. Greater certainty.—This evidently would be the case at the time, and in the case of the disciples themselves. If ever tempted to think of that first miracle, because of its exceeding wondrousness, as a dream, this second specimen of similar wondrousness would be just the thing to prevent them. It would be very much with them, indeed, as it is with a man who hears himself called by name by some one whom he cannot see, both a first time and a second. Even if he doubts the first time he believes the second. If he says, Can it be? when he hears it once; he says, It must be! when he hears it twice. That second blow drives the nail of conviction into a wellhigh immovable place. The special differentiations also of this second miracle would have a like effect on the mind. They are all such as would not have eventuated had not both stories been true. The differences in numbers, e.g. in the two cases respectively, and that both as to need and supply—the fact also that these differences are not such as to make the second miracle appear the more marvellous of the two, the feeding of four thousand persons with seven loaves being palpably not so surprising a thing as the feeding of five thousand with two—and the yet further fact that the “baskets” spoken of in the two accounts, and in all subsequent references to them, are always distinguished by names which signify something like “hampers” in the one case and “hand-baskets” in the other—are all peculiarities which agree better with the supposition of truth than with that of falsehood, or even with that of inaccuracy or mistake. Stories so like and yet not identical—stories so like and yet so curiously different—stories so like and yet so consistently different—are stories which can be accounted for best—if not accounted for only—by supposing them to be built upon facts. It is not easy indeed to conceive of their standing on anything else. Had they been fictions the differentiations would have been of a very different kind.
II. Greater importance.—The occurrence of this second miracle brings out, e.g. in a greater degree than ever, the the inexhaustible fulness of Christ. His abundance, if we may say so, is not confined to one side of the lake. Not only in Galilee are the “words of His mouth” more than their “necessary food” to mankind (Job 23:12). Not only there can He do that which is beyond the dreams of His disciples (John 6:9). Wherever there is need, on the contrary, and whatever its amount, He has a full supply within reach. What indeed can He not do who has done such a thing twice? Who can doubt of the immensity of His power after such a double witness as this? (2 Corinthians 13:1). Also it shows, on the other hand, the holy consistency of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Saviour. “Cœlum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.” Wherever He is (so this repetition shows us), there is the same depth and spontaneity of compassion; the same discrimination and considerateness of affection; the same recollection as well of the temporal as of the spiritual needs of His hearers; the same marked disapprobation also (with all His fulness) of waste; and the same resolute avoidance, also, when the wants of the multitude have been fully met, of idle wonder and fame. When He has done sufficient for them He has done wholly with them, as on the other side of the lake (cf. Matthew 14:13-40.14.21 with the present passage passim).
Happy those who, observing these things, are taught thereby to trust Christ to the full, and are anxious for nothing except to be sure that they leave all in His hands. How impressively this double witness teaches us the fulness and depth of His knowledge! How convincingly it shows us also that for Him to know our needs is enough! (cf. Matthew 6:32; see also Philippians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:12)
Happy those also who, as a means to this end, put full trust in His word. What we know of the Saviour we know, in the first instance, from what His Evangelists tell us. Do we not see here with what singular wisdom their story is told? As also that the source of this wisdom lies in the fact that they tell us simply what was actually done? In portraying wisdom there can be nothing wiser than to be as faithful as possible in reproducing it just as it was.
HOMILIES ON THE VERSES
Matthew 15:32-40.15.39. The multitude fed.—This miracle:—
I. Illustrates Christ’s care for the bodies of men.—We must not tempt men to adopt religion by bribery; we should thus encourage hypocrisy, promote indolence, give a premium to iniquity. But as Christians we should relieve temporal want, and with due caution and discretion use this as a means of imparting spiritual good. Our Lord fed the multitude on this occasion though He well knew that their motives in following Him were far from being pure. We should distinguish between vulgar bribery and Christian benevolence. In any case it were better to do good to men’s bodies than do no good at all.
II. Illustrates what St. Paul calls “the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”—Much as was eaten of the miraculous bread, much still remained. The more we feed upon Christ, the Bread of Life, the more there is to feed upon. This multitude, fed and satisfied, went forth out of the abundance of their hearts to trumpet Christ’s fame, to tell of His love. If there be fulness in Christ, there should be accompanying fulness in us.
III. Suggests the need of daily feeding upon Christ.—The miracle falls short here. To feed once for all not sufficient.—R. W. Forrest, M.A.
Subsidiary lessons.—I. A lesson in generosity.—Jesus made His disciples bring out their seven loaves and small fishes, and give thus their all away. No doubt some of them wondered why. It is our common plea for withholding from the cause of charity or of religion that what we have we shall need for ourselves. At least there is a fear that we may. But as our household commentator has it, “Niggardliness for to-day, arising out of thoughtfulness for to-morrow, is a complication of corrupt affections that ought to be mortified” (M. Henry).
II. A lesson of thankfulness.—First, Jesus took the seven loaves, and brake them, and gave to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. Then, as if they had overlooked the few small fishes, Mark relates that they also were brought to Him, and He blessed and commanded to set them also before them. Two words are used, “gave thanks” and “blessed”—one in connection with the first part of the meal, and the other with the second. With such words He turned these poor materials into a royal feast. Let us also learn that giving of thanks is a blessing upon our daily food.—Prof. Laidlaw, D.D.
Matthew 15:34-40.15.38. Feeding the four thousand.—
1. Ere the Lord work, He will have it seen how little ground He hath to work upon; therefore by asking His disciples He draweth forth how few loaves and fishes for such a work were to be had.
2. He will not despise His own ordinary appointed means for so far as they can reach, nor will He do anything extraordinary further than is necessary; for, He could have fed them without these seven loaves, but He will take them and make use of them, seeing they may be had.
3. Christ shames the misbelief of His servants, by making them, actors in the work, which they could not believe to see, for He gave to the disciples, and they to the multitude.
4. There is no scant when the Lord giveth the banquet, for all are filled when He inviteth His guests.
5. His manifold wisdom will glorify Himself as He pleaseth, but ever in a way sufficient to manifest His Divine power.—David Dickson.
Matthew 15:34. How many loaves have ye?—This question of Christ’s is wonderfully suggestive for those who are tempted to be content with doing nothing for Christ, because they cannot do much for Him, and who honestly, though ignorantly, suppose that an acceptable excuse for their standing all the day idle, is that no man hath hired them.
I. The first condition of usefulness absolutely indispensable for every one is to see the need of it and to observe the scope of it.
II. The next condition is to recognise that the opportunity of usefulness is ever at hand, if we are only willing to perceive it.
III. Another condition of usefulness is to be perfectly sure that every duty is possible; and that if we will take the trouble to inquire, each and all of us have resources as well as opportunities for diminishing the anguish of the world.
IV. We must not be daunted or baffled by the insignificance of the help it may be in our power to give, or the poverty, even the scantiness, of our resources.
V. The great thing is to brush away difficulties, to remember that waiting, and trembling, and reasoning, and putting off, never yet made a duty easier, or lightened a soul with a burden on its back. Most of all learn that the great thing is to begin.
VI. The Lord would not do it all Himself, nor would He summon angels to do it for Him.—Bishop Thorold.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Matthew 15". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent