Matthew 15: Just What Was Jesus Getting At with the Canaanite Woman?

Uncover Jesus' teachings on faith vs tradition in Matthew 15. Dive into religious conflicts & interpret the true significance of your heart’s intentions.

Understanding Context and Interpretation

In Matthew 15, we examine the conflicts Jesus faces with traditional religious practice and the deeper implications of faith.

Matthew 15:1-20 (NIV):
“Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!’…He replied, ‘…Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”…Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”

  • Apply this to your life by considering the integrity of your actions. Does your public display align with your private values?
  • Reflect on your words and deeds. Are they rooted in genuine care or rote obligation?
  • If you’re faced with choices that pit tradition against compassion, remember Jesus’ emphasis on the latter.
  • Look beyond human rules and examine your heart—practice mercy rather than mere adherence to ritual.
  • Recognize the distinction between doctrines shaped by human interpretation and the Word of God that calls for inner transformation.

In your daily interactions, strive to align your conversation and conduct with principles like love and mercy, key teachings of Jesus.

When faced with the pressures of traditional or cultural norms, prioritize the commandments of God over the mere commandment of men.

Remember, it’s not the outward but the contents of your heart—your intentions and thoughts—that shape who you are before your Heavenly Father.