Subscribe via RSS Feed

The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 10: Matthew 15, by Kevin M. Williams

Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:12-14).

Clearly, Yeshua is not concerned with what people think of him or with earning anyone’s favor. He is, however, as we can see through the entirety of his ministry, concerned with the proper handling of the holy Scriptures.

His comments about blind men leading the blind have become a common euphemism in today’s English language. It gives great credibility to the words of James as well, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Certainly the P’rushim were judged strictly.

The talmadim (disciples) however, are clearly influenced by the traditions of the elders, and things such as ritually clean hands. Even though they have heard Yeshua’s words, they still don’t understand.

And Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain the parable to us” (Matthew 15:15).

Either they still agreed with the oral tradition, or Yeshua’s method of teaching by inference had been lost on them (Which is possible. The talmadim were common folk and had not proceeded with a formal higher education as the Pharisees). To dispel any further misunderstanding, Yeshua again addresses the biblical principles of what cannot render a person unclean.

And He said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man” (Matthew 15:16-20).

Yeshua not only addresses the literal physical issue but he emphasizes the deeper, spiritual relevance. The main point? What you do—adherence to the oral tradition—is not as important as who you are inside. The real transforming power is not in ritual observance, but in spiritual application. Anyone can be obedient—or go through the motions—and appear “pure,” but still have forms of spiritual impurities bubbling inside.


And Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed” (Matthew 15:22).

This is, to me, one of the overlooked passages of the Matthew. We find a non-Jewish woman asking for help and being—at least initially—rejected by Yeshua. But what is there below the surface?

This woman does not appear to be an ignorant Gentile woman. Rather, she seems to have a great deal of biblical knowledge.

A)  She knows who Yeshua is and presumably, what is being said about Him. Word of His miracles has obviously reached Tyre and Sidon and gone well beyond the Jewish community alone. This nameless woman obviously had a Messianic vision not common among Gentiles. Where would she have gained this understanding?

B)  She demonstrates a messianic expectation, she calls him “Lord, Son of David.” She is the first non-Jew to publicly use this title. A woman from “the nations” knows his lineage, knows the promise, has pieced the clues together and though not Israeli by blood, bows to Israel’s king.

C)  She understands the spiritual concept of demon-possession—a foreign concept to most pagans. In her world there were false gods, whose favors could be won or wrath received depending on what votive offers were or were not made. Demon-possession—to actually be inhabited by an unclean spirit—was largely a Judeo concept.

This woman has knowledge and understanding (a God-fearer?), and together, they gave her a bold faith.

But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is shouting out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:23-24).

Yeshua initially remains silent, but it would seem that this only emphasizes the point that is about to be made. His disciples misunderstood his silence as rejection and wanted Yeshua to send her away (as any of us might). But his answer is what warrants examination, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Pin It
Page 5 of 7« First...34567

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Summer 2003

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?