Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 15

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

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Verse 1


I n this Chapter we have Christ's discourses with the scribes. The woman of Canaan, seeking to Jesus for her daughter: and the Lord feeding the multitude in the wilderness.

Verses 1-9

"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. (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."

It is worthy observation, how much men in all ages are disposed to rest in forms and customs, rather than know the power of godliness. anything, everything shall be attempted or set up, if the Lord will relax in his demands. But What a precious thought is it to the believer in Christ, that neither washen nor unwashen hands, are anything' but faith which worketh by love. One verse of scripture throws to the ground everything of will worship. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. So runs the glorious charter. And such in correspondence is the dependance of the faithful.

Verses 10-20

"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? (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. (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."

I pass over the whole of this passage as being in itself too plain to need a Comment. But I beg to call the Reader's attention to that one verse in the middle of it. Every plant (saith Jesus), which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Than which nothing can more decidedly shew, the everlasting and unchanging love of Jesus to his people, planted by sovereign grace, made one in Christ, and receiving the distinguishing tokens of his love: it is impossible they who are thus planted by the Lord, can fall. But on the other hand everyone which is not of this stock, is sure to fall. Oh! the blessedness of distinguishing grace. Lord! sweetly give grace to the improvement of thy people, that we may know where we are, and to whom we belong. And avert from thy redeemed, false teachers and false guides: that we may not be in danger of being led by the blind, and both fall into condemnation.

Verses 21-22

"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."

We here enter upon that beautiful history, of the woman of Canaan; whose faith is so highly commended by Christ. Every particular in it is interesting. The Evangelist saith, that she was a woman of Canaan; consequently a Gentile. Mark adds in his account of it, Mark 7:28 , that she was a Syrophæician; that is, she belonged to that part of Phænicia which bordered on Syria. She came from those coasts to seek after Christ. But who taught her of Jesus? And how came she to know that Christ was the Son of David? Surely none but God himself could be her teacher, or give her such faith as to follow Jesus. I pray the Reader, before he goes further, to turn to two scriptures in proof. Isaiah 54:13 , and John 6:37-40 . And when the Reader hath duly pondered these precious truths, let him behold Jesus directing his steps towards Tyre and Sidon to meet this woman, before that she was coming out of those coasts to meet Christ. Yes! for so the charter of grace runs: It shall come to pass that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking l will hear. Isaiah 65:24 . So sure, so very sure is that scripture If we love him, it is because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 .

But what was it that prompted this poor woman to come to Christ? Her daughter was grievously vexed with a devil. And who but Jesus could help her? The Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 . How blessed is it to have such a deliverer to fly to, under distresses. If every mother, every father, whose children are under evil possessions, had the same knowledge of Jesus, and faith in Jesus, as this poor woman had: how would they hasten to his mercy-seat to spread their sorrows before him and seek his favor. I pray the Reader to notice how comprehensive her petition; and the ground upon which she asked for mercy. Have mercy on me, O Lord! Christ himself is mercy: the first born in the womb of mercy. And the ground on which she hoped it was, that Jesus is the Son of David, meaning, God in human nature. God and man in one person; Emmanuel God with us. Let not the Reader overlook this. Here is a poor woman, a Gentile, pleading for mercy, with Christ, because he is Christ; while thousands who saw Jesus daily, knew nothing of him! Whence could this be? Surely from the Lord himself. So that we gather two grand truths from the case of this woman, illustrated as it is, by her history; namely that God and none other could have taught her of Jesus. And, secondly, that that teaching infallibly led her to seek to Christ, as the Christ of God. John 6:45-46 .

Verses 23-24

"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."

But Jesus answered her not a word. What a discouragement Was here. Is this the Lord Jesus, who commanded every poor, weary, and heavy laden sinner, to come to him, assuring them, that they should find rest unto their souls. And doth Jesus remain silent, and seemingly inattentive to the earnest cries of this poor creature Oh! ye that know the history of this woman, and behold that the end of the Lord is very pitiful and gracious, learn from hence how to form conclusions, when at any time, there is a silence at the heavenly throne. Jesus both hears, and sees, and knows all your sorrows: yea, himself it is, that measures out your portion of exercise; and is all the while infinitely more disposed, to administer the needed comfort, than you are to ask it. But he waits to be gracious: that is, waits the properest time, which is the best time to answer his purpose, and your real happiness. Jesus, therefore, for the present answers the poor woman not a word. And this gives occasion to the disciples to interest themselves in her behalf. Send her away: she crieth after us. They knew not what was in the Lord's intention. Ministers of Christ, do well to bear the persons, and the wants of the Lord's people in their prayers before the throne; and like their Master, in his High Priestly office, go in before the mercy-seat, as Jesus doth, with their names upon their breast and in their hearts. But here they rest. They can go no further.

I am not sent, saith Jesus, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Commentators generally agree, that Christ, as .the minister of the Circumcision, meant to say by this, that his commission was only to Israel. And on confirmation when he sent his disciples out to preach, he commanded them not to go in the way of the Gentiles. Matthew 10:5-6 . But I am free to confess, that notwithstanding all this, I do not conceive that the Lord Jesus could mean that his commission was limited to the Jewish nation. He came to seek, and save that which was lost. And what was lost, but his spouse, his Church, to whom he betrothed himself, before all worlds? And was not the Gentile Church, as much as the Jewish, included? Read those scriptures, Isaiah 49:1-6 ; Song of Solomon 6:9 ; John 10:15-16 ; Galatians 3:28-29 ; The Lord's answer to the disciples, was therefore meant, for the further exercise of her faith.

Verses 25-27

"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 cast it to dogs. (27) And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

The poor woman, a true daughter of Abraham, who against hope believed in hope, still held out, under all discouragements; and therefore now ventures nearer to Jesus. She worshipped him in testimony of her belief in his Godhead; and the cry of the soul goes forth in the most vehement earnestness, saying, Lord help me! Oh! for grace on trying seasons, to be more clamorous, when discouragements abound; and to rest on Jesus, when every promise leading to Jesus seems shut up. Though he slay me (said one of old) yet will I trust in him. Job 13:15 .

Still the exercise of her faith is not finished. Jesus now speaks for the first time to her; but it, must have seemed what the Lord said as very cutting to the heart. It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs. Think, Reader! how she felt, to hear those words drop from the lips of Christ. Jesus knew her, loved her, and from the first moment she cried to him; had all along determined to do for her, even more than she had asked; yet still, that faith the Lord had given her shall be tried. She is to stand forth, an everlasting monument in the Church of God, for her illustrious faith; and therefore let faith have her perfect work and lack nothing. And oh! what but grace could have enabled her to hold on and hold out; or have taught her to make that sweet reply to Jesus. Truth, Lord! y et the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table!

Verse 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."

Here finisheth the wonderful subject, in the Lord's manifested grace, and her soul's joy. O woman, great is thy faith; belt unto thee even as thou wilt. As if Jesus threw the reins of government into her hand, saying, as by the Prophet, Concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. Isaiah 45:11 . And was there ever a more finished instance of grace and mercy, not only in following up this daughter of Abraham's petition; but planting such faith. in her heart, as might sustain so long, and painful a trial. Reader! I pray you, dismiss it not, until you have gathered some, at least of the many blessed instructions it contains, for your own private encouragement, under the lesser exercises of your faith.

And, First. Behold the sovereignty of Almighty grace, in this chosen vessel of God; and taken from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon How evident is it, that Jesus hath a Church, to be gathered from all nations. They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south. And the certainty of their coming is in the covenant. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. Psalms 110:3 .

Secondly. Mark the grace of the Lord, in disposing the way for this poor Gentile to come to Christ. By inducing afflictions of body, and giving grace in the soul, she is brought to Jesus. Oh! how often the Lord thus mercifully deals with his people.

Thirdly. Learn from the Lord's dealings with her, how to form proper judgment of his dealings with all his people. Though from the first, more disposed to grant than she to ask; yet to enhance the blessing, and to improve her faith, the mercy is suspended for a space. So Jesus doth by all. And sweet it is, when by waiting upon the Lord, We renew our spiritual Strength.

Fourthly: Behold what humbleness of soul grace accomplisheth in the heart. Truth, Lord, said this poor member of Christ's mystical body, I am unworthy of children's fare. Reader! depend upon it, in proportion to our views of Christ's glory, such will be our views of our own unworthiness. It is Christ alone that shall be exalted. And now this poor Canaanite is sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of our God, and of his Christ!

Verses 29-39

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

We have here renewed instance of Jesus' grace, both to the souls and bodies of men. He manifested his power and Godhead, and proved his being the Messiah in fulfilling what had been prophesied of him. Isa_35:5-6; Isa_61:1 , etc. But it would swell this work of the "Poor Man's Commentary" much beyond the limits proposed, to notice every miracle of the Lord Jesus, with observations, in a way of improvement. Of the Lord it must be truly said, as said the Psalmist ages before, who contemplated his coming; his greatness is unsearchable. Psalms 114:3 .

Verse 39


Who can read in the opening of this Chapter, the pitiful substitution of outward acts of religion for the defect of inward purity, but with painful mortification, when we consider in such proofs to what a sad state of ruin, our whole nature is reduced by the fall? Alas! what are these Scribes and Pharisees, but representatives of all men in the Adam race, until a work of mercy in salvation hath passed upon the soul?

Do we not all draw nigh to God with our mouth, and honor him with our lips, while our hearts are far from him; until God the Holy Ghost, hath revealed Christ to us, in his person, offices, and character, and we are brought nigh by the blood of his cross?

What a beautiful relief, from such a universal corruption of nature is the subject this Chapter introduceth us to, of the woman of Canaan. Oh! ye parents of perverse children, and children under the dominion of Satan; oh! may ye learn for them, for yourselves, yea, for the whole Church of Christ, how to come to Jesus. Who shall say what mercies Jesus is continually manifesting of the same kind? And if we feel interested, as that we cannot but feel interested, for our own, and their everlasting welfare, that neither we nor our offspring should remain under the worst of all distresses, even soul-distresses in Satan's influence; oh! let us come out of all the coasts of the Tyre and Sidon of this world, and look unto Jesus: and beholding his mercy here, let us hope for mercy for all Israel: for with him is plenteous redemption.

Jesus! do thou have compassion, Lord, as thou hadst in the days of thy flesh, and beholding the multitudes in the wilderness, send us not empty away, but feed us with thyself; and command a blessing upon thy bounty for thou Lord art the bread of life, of which whosoever eateth shall live forever!

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/matthew-15.html. 1828.
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