Matthew Chapter Fifteen
Chapter 15 displays man and God, the moral contrast between the doctrine of Christ and that of the Jews; and thus the Jewish system is rejected morally by God. When I speak of the system, I speak of their whole moral condition, systematised by the hypocrisy that sought to conceal iniquity, while increasing it in the sight of God, before whom they presented themselves. They made use of His name in order to sink lower, under the pretence of piety, than the laws of natural conscience. It is thus that a religious system becomes the great instrument of the power of the enemy, and more especially when that, of which it still bears the name, was instituted by God. But then man is judged, for Judaism was man with God's law and God's culture.
The judgment which the Lord pronounces on this system of hypocrisy, while manifesting the consequent rejection of Israel, gives rise to instruction that goes thus much farther; and which, searching the heart of man, and judging man according to that which proceeds from it, proves the heart to be a spring of all iniquity; and thus makes it evident that all true morality has its basis in the conviction and confession of sin. For, without this, the heart is always false and flatters itself in vain. Thus also Jesus goes to the root of everything, and comes out of the special and temporary relations of the Jewish nation, to enter on the true morality which belongs to all ages. The disciples did not observe the traditions of the elders; about these the Lord did not concern Himself. He avails Himself of the accusation, to lay it upon the conscience of their accusers, that the judgment occasioned by the rejection of the Son of God was authorised also on the ground of those relationships that already existed between God and Israel. They made the commandment of God of none effect through their traditions; and that in a most important point, and one even on which all earthly blessings depended for the children of Israel. By their own ordinances also Jesus exposes the consummate hypocrisy, the selfishness and avarice, of those who pretended to guide the people, and to form their heart to morality and to the worship of Jehovah. Isaiah had already pronounced their judgment.
Afterwards He shews the multitude that it was a question of what man was, of what proceeded from his heart, from within him; and points out the sad streams that flow from that corrupt spring. But it was the simple truth with respect to the heart of man, as known by God, which scandalised the self-righteous men of the world, which was unintelligible even to the disciples. Nothing so simple as the truth when it is known; nothing so difficult, so obscure, when a judgment is to be formed respecting it by the heart of man, who does not possess the truth; for he judges after his own thoughts, and the truth is not in them. In short, Israel, and specially religious Israel, and true morality are set in contrast: man is set in his proper responsibility, and in his real colours before God.
Jesus searches the heart; but, acting in grace, He acts according to the heart of God, and manifests it by coming out, both for the one and for the other, of the conventional terms of God's relationship with Israel. A divine Person, God, may walk in the covenant He has given, but cannot be confined to it. And the unfaithfulness of His people to it is the occasion of the revelation of Him passing out beyond that place. And note, here, the effect of traditional religion in blinding moral judgment. What clearer or plainer than that what came out of the mouth and heart defiled a man, not what he ate? But the disciples through the vile influence of Pharisaic teaching, putting outside forms for inward purity, could not understand it.
Christ now leaves the borders of Israel, and His disputes with the learned men of Jerusalem, to visit those places which were farthest off from Jewish privileges. He departs into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, the cities which He had Himself used as examples of that which was farthest from repentance; see chapter 11, where He classes them with Sodom and Gomorrah as more hardened than they. A woman comes out of these countries. She was one of the accursed race, according to the principles that distinguished Israel. She was a Canaanite. She comes to beg the interposition of Jesus on behalf of her daughter, who was possessed by a devil.
In begging this favour, she addresses Jesus by the title, which faith knew to be His connection with the Jews-"Son of David." This gives rise to a full development of the Lord's position, and, at the same time, of the conditions under which man might hope to share the effect of His goodness, yea, to the revelation of God Himself.
As the Son of David, He has nothing to do with a Canaanite. He makes her no answer. The disciples desired to get rid of her by granting her request, in order to have done with her importunity. The Lord answers them, that He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This was indeed the truth. Whatever may have been the counsels of God manifested on occasion of His rejection (see Isaiah 49), He was the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to fulfil His promises made to the fathers.
The woman, in more simple and direct language, the more natural expression of her feelings, begs for the merciful interposition of Him in whose power she trusted. The Lord answers her, that it is not meet to take the children's bread and give it to dogs. We see here His true position, as come to Israel; the promises were for the children of the kingdom. The Son of David was the minister of these promises. Could He as such blot out the distinction of the people of God?
But that faith which derives strength from necessity, and which finds no resource but in the Lord Himself, accepts the humiliation of its position, and deems that with Him there is bread for the hunger of those who have no right to it. It perseveres, too, because there is a felt want, and faith in the power of Him who is come in grace.
What had the Lord done by His apparent harshness? He had brought the poor woman to the expression, to the sense, of her real place before God, that is to say, to the truth as to herself. But, then, was it the truth to say that God was less good than she believed, less rich in mercy towards the destitute, whose only hope and trust was in that mercy? This would have been to deny the character and the nature of God, of which He was the expression, the truth, and the witness, on earth; it would have been to deny Himself, and the object of His mission. He could not say, "God has not a crumb for such." He answers, in fulness of heart, "O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt." God comes out of the narrow limits of His covenant with the Jews, to act in His sovereign goodness according to His own nature. He comes out to be God in goodness, and not merely Jehovah in Israel.
But this goodness is exercised towards one who is brought, in the presence of that goodness, to know that she has no right to it. To this point the seeming harshness of the Lord had been leading her. She received all from grace, while in herself unworthy of all. It is thus, and thus only, that every soul obtains blessing. It is not merely the sense of need-the woman had that from the beginning, it was that which brought her there. It is not sufficient merely to own that the Lord Jesus can meet that need-the woman came with that acknowledgment; we must be in the presence of the only source of blessing, and be brought to feel that, although we are there, we have no right to avail ourselves of it. And this is a terrible position. When it comes to this, all is grace. God can then act according to His own goodness, and He answers every desire which the heart can form for its happiness.
Thus we see Christ here as a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to fulfil the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles also might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written. At the same time this last truth makes manifest the real condition of man, and the full and perfect grace of God. On this He acts, while still faithful to His promises; and the wisdom of God is displayed in a manner that calls forth our admiration.
We see how much the introduction, in this place, of the story of the Syro-Phenician woman develops and illustrates this part of our Gospel. The beginning of the chapter shews forth the moral condition of the Jews, the falseness of Pharisaic and sacerdotal religiousness; brings out the real state of man as man, what the heart of man was the source of; and then reveals the heart of God as manifested in Jesus. His dealings with this woman display the faithfulness of God to His promises; and the blessing finally granted exhibits the full grace of God, in connection with the manifestation of the real condition of man, acknowledged by conscience-grace rising above the curse which lay upon the object of this grace-rising above everything to make itself a way to the need which faith presented to it.
The Lord now departs thence and goes into Galilee, the place where He was in connection with the despised remnant of the Jews. It was neither Zion, nor the temple, nor Jerusalem, but the poor of the flock, where the people were sitting in gross darkness (Isa. 8, 9). Thither His compassions follow this poor remnant, and are again exercised in their behalf. He renews the evidences, not only of His tender mercies, but of His presence who satisfied the poor of His people with bread. Here however it is not in the administrative power which He could bestow on His disciples, but according to His own perfection and acting from Himself. He provides for the remnant of His people. Accordingly it is the fulness of seven baskets of fragments that is gathered up. He departs also without anything else taking place.
We have seen eternal morality, and truth in the inward parts, substituted for the hypocrisy of forms, man's use of legal religion and man's heart shewn to be a source of evil and nought else, God's heart fully revealed that rises above all dispensation to shew full grace in Christ. Thus dispensations are set aside though fully owned, and man and God fully shewn out in doing so. It is a wonderful chapter as to what is everlasting in truth as to God, and as to what the revelation of God shews man to be. And this, note, gives occasion to the revelation of the assembly in the next chapter, which is not a dispensation but founded on what Christ is, Son of the living God. In chapter 12 Christ was dispensationally rejected, and the kingdom of heaven substituted in chapter 13. Here man is set aside and what he had made of law, and God acts in His own grace above all dispensations. Then come the assembly and the kingdom in glory.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Matthew》
Jesus discourses about human traditions. (1-9) He warns against things which really defile. (10-20) He heals the daughter of a Syrophenician woman. (21-28) Jesus heals the sick, and miraculously feeds four thousand. (29-39)
Commentary on Matthew 15:1-9
(Read Matthew 15:1-9)
Additions to God's laws reflect upon his wisdom, as if he had left out something which was needed, and which man could supply; in one way or other they always lead men to disobey God. How thankful ought we to be for the written word of God! Never let us think that the religion of the Bible can be improved by any human addition, either in doctrine or practice. Our blessed Lord spoke of their traditions as inventions of their own, and pointed out one instance in which this was very clear, that of their transgressing the fifth commandment. When a parent's wants called for assistance, they pleaded, that they had devoted to the temple all they could spare, even though they did not part with it, and therefore their parents must expect nothing from them. This was making the command of God of no effect. The doom of hypocrites is put in a little compass; "In vain do they worship me." It will neither please God, nor profit themselves; they trust in vanity, and vanity will be their recompence.
Commentary on Matthew 15:10-20
(Read Matthew 15:10-20)
Christ shows that the defilement they ought to fear, was not from what entered their mouths as food, but from what came out of their mouths, which showed the wickedness of their hearts. Nothing will last in the soul but the regenerating graces of the Holy Spirit; and nothing should be admitted into the church but what is from above; therefore, whoever is offended by a plain, seasonable declaration of the truth, we should not be troubled at it. The disciples ask to be better taught as to this matter. Where a weak head doubts concerning any word of Christ, an upright heart and a willing mind seek for instruction. It is the heart that is desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17:9, for there is no sin in word or deed, which was not first in the heart. They all come out of the man, and are fruits of that wickedness which is in the heart, and is wrought there. When Christ teaches, he will show men the deceitfulness and wickedness of their own hearts; he will teach them to humble themselves, and to seek to be cleansed in the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.
Commentary on Matthew 15:21-28
(Read Matthew 15:21-28)
The dark corners of the country, the most remote, shall share Christ's influences; afterwards the ends of the earth shall see his salvation. The distress and trouble of her family brought a woman to Christ; and though it is need that drives us to Christ, yet we shall not therefore be driven from him. She did not limit Christ to any particular instance of mercy, but mercy, mercy, is what she begged for: she pleads not merit, but depends upon mercy. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and to be earnest in prayer for them, especially for their souls. Have you a son, a daughter, grievously vexed with a proud devil, an unclean devil, a malicious devil, led captive by him at his will? this is a case more deplorable than that of bodily possession, and you must bring them by faith and prayer to Christ, who alone is able to heal them. Many methods of Christ's providence, especially of his grace, in dealing with his people, which are dark and perplexing, may be explained by this story, which teaches that there may be love in Christ's heart while there are frowns in his face; and it encourages us, though he seems ready to slay us, yet to trust in him. Those whom Christ intends most to honour, he humbles to feel their own unworthiness. A proud, unhumbled heart would not have borne this; but she turned it into an argument to support her request. The state of this woman is an emblem of the state of a sinner, deeply conscious of the misery of his soul. The least of Christ is precious to a believer, even the very crumbs of the Bread of life. Of all graces, faith honours Christ most; therefore of all graces Christ honours faith most. He cured her daughter. He spake, and it was done. From hence let such as seek help from the Lord, and receive no gracious answer, learn to turn even their unworthiness and discouragements into pleas for mercy.
Commentary on Matthew 15:29-39
(Read Matthew 15:29-39)
Whatever our case is, the only way to find ease and relief, is to lay it at Christ's feet, to submit it to him, and refer it to his disposal. Those who would have spiritual healing from Christ, must be ruled as he pleases. See what work sin has made; what various diseases human bodies are subject to. Here were such diseases as fancy could neither guess the cause nor the cure of, yet these were subject to the command of Christ. The spiritual cures that Christ works are wonderful. When blind souls are made to see by faith, the dumb to speak in prayer, the maimed and the lame to walk in holy obedience, it is to be wondered at. His power was also shown to the multitude, in the plentiful provision he made for them: the manner is much the same as before. All did eat, and were filled. Those whom Christ feeds, he fills. With Christ there is bread enough, and to spare; supplies of grace for more than seek it, and for those that seek for more. Christ sent away the people. Though he had fed them twice, they must not look for miracles to find their daily bread. Let them go home to their callings and their own tables. Lord, increase our faith, and pardon our unbelief, teaching us to live upon thy fulness and bounty, for all things pertaining to this life, and that which is to come.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Matthew》
 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
The elders — The chief doctors or, teachers among the Jews.
 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
They wash not their hands when they eat bread — Food in general is termed bread in Hebrew; so that to eat bread is the same as to make a meal.
 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest have been profited by me — That is, I have given, or at least, purpose to give to the treasury of the temple, what you might otherwise have had from me.
 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying — That is, the description which Isaiah gave of your fathers, is exactly applicable to you. The words therefore which were a description of them, are a prophecy with regard to you.
 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Their heart is far from me — And without this all outward worship is mere mockery of God. Isaiah 29:13.
 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Teaching the commandments of men — As equal with, nay, superior to, those of God. What can be a more heinous sin?
 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Every plant — That is, every doctrine.
 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Let them alone — If they are indeed blind leaders of the blind; let them alone: concern not yourselves about them: a plain direction how to behave with regard to all such. Luke 6:39.
 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
Are ye also yet without understanding — How fair and candid are the sacred historians? Never concealing or excusing their own blemishes.
 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
First evil thoughts — then murders - and the rest.
Railings — The Greek word includes all reviling, backbiting, and evil speaking.
 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
 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.
A woman of Canaan — Canaan was also called Syrophenicia, as lying between Syria properly so called, and Phenicia, by the sea side.
Cried to him — From afar, Thou Son of David - So she had some knowledge of the promised Messiah.
 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
He answered her not a word — He sometimes tries our faith in like manner.
 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
I am not sent — Not primarily; not yet.
 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
Then came she — Into the house where he now was.
 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.
Thy faith — Thy reliance on the power and goodness of God.
 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
The sea of Galilee — The Jews gave the name of seas to all large lakes. This was a hundred furlongs long, and forty broad. It was called also, the sea of Tiberias. It lay on the borders of Galilee, and the city of Tiberias stood on its western shore. It was likewise styled the lake of Gennesareth: perhaps a corruption of Cinnereth, the name by which it was anciently called, Numbers 34:11; Mark 7:31.
 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.
They continue with me now three days — It was now the third day since they came. Mark 8:1.
 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.
He gave thanks, or blessed the food — That is, he praised God for it, and prayed for a blessing upon it.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Matthew》
Chapter 15. Men's Traditions
Honor Me with Their Lips
Far Away from Me Are Their Hearts
I. Point out the Source of Defilement
II. Begging of the Canaanite Woman
III. Feed Four Thousand
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Danger With Traditions (15:1-9)
1. As Jesus went about preaching and teaching, He often ran afoul of
the religious leaders over the matter of keeping traditions...
a. E.g., plucking heads of grain on the Sabbath - Mt 12:1-8
b. E.g., healing on the Sabbath - Mt 12:9-14
c. E.g., eating with unwashed hands - Mt 15:1-9
2. In Mt 15:1-9, Jesus describes the danger of traditions at length...
a. How keeping them can make void the very commands of God
b. How keeping them can make our worship vain before God
3. Traditions are very important in some religions...
a. In the Roman Catholic church, tradition is place on par with
1) "It is an article of faith from a decree of the
Council that Tradition is a source of theological teaching
distinct from Scripture, and that it is infallible. It is
therefore to be received with the same internal assent of
Scripture, for it is the word of God." - Catholic Dictionary,
2) "Do you have to believe in Tradition? Yes, because it is the
Word of God and has equal authority with the Bible."
- Catholic Catechism For Adults, p. 11
b. Just about every Protestant church has its own traditions
1) It is often the accepted traditions that distinguish between
2) To be a member of a particular denomination, one must accept
4. In this study, we will address the following questions...
a. What are traditions?
b. Are traditions always wrong?
c. If not, when does a tradition become sinful?
[Let's begin with...]
I. THE MEANING OF TRADITION
A. THE WORD ITSELF...
1. The Greek word is "paradosis", which means "giving over" or
2. It refers to teaching that is handed down either by word
(orally) or in writing
B. AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE JEWS...
1. It was often applied to the oral teachings of the elders
(distinguished elders from Moses on down)
2. These traditions were often divided into three classes...
a. Some oral laws supposedly given by Moses in addition to the
b. Decisions of various judges which became precedents in
c. Interpretations of highly respected rabbis which were held
in reverence along with the OT scriptures
-- Article on "Tradition", ISBE
3. Prior to his conversion, Paul was a staunch supporter of
Jewish tradition - Ga 1:13-14
C. AS UNDERSTOOD BY ROMAN AND GREEK CATHOLICS...
1. Their views appear to be parallel to that of the Jews
2. What they consider "Tradition" is what they believe to be the
a. Of Jesus or the apostles, persevered orally rather than
b. Of various councils which have left various decrees
c. Of various church leaders (such as the pope) considered to
be inspired with later revelations from God
3. Of course, one is expected to take their word for it that
these "traditions" were truly from God and have been
D. AS FOUND IN THE SCRIPTURES...
1. The word "tradition" as such is not found in the Old Testament
2. It is found thirteen times in New Testament
a. Three times it refers to "apostolic teaching"
1) That which had been delivered by the apostles - 1 Co
2) Whether by word (in person) or epistle - 2 Th 2:15
3) Which Christians were expected to keep - 2 Th 3:6
b. Ten times it refers to "the tradition of the elders" or
"the traditions of men"
1) As in our text and parallel passages - Mt 15:2-6; Mk 7:
2) Of which Paul warned the Colossians - Co 2:8
3) From which Jewish Christians had been delivered
(including Paul) - 1 Pe 1:18; Ga 1:14
3. Jesus did not feel bound to abide by "the traditions of the
a. Some traditions He had no problem keeping
1) Such as going to a wedding feast - Jn 2:1-2
2) Or attending the Feast Of Dedication - Jn 10:22-23
b. But He just as easily had no problem with violating other
1) Plucking grain or healing on the Sabbath
2) Eating with unwashed hands
c. Evidently Jesus did not subscribe to the view of
"traditions" handed down orally
1) He never appealed to the traditions of the elders
2) He either appealed to the authority of the written Word
(the Law of Moses), or to His own authority as the Son
[Not all "traditions" are wrong. When they are teachings inspired of
God, given and "written" by men approved of God, they are to be heeded.
But when they are doctrines or interpretations handed down by
uninspired men, then like the traditions of the Jews they are suspect.
As we return to our text (Mt 15:1-9), Jesus points out...]
II. THE DANGER OF TRADITIONS OF MEN
A. THEY CAN MAKE VOID THE WORD OF GOD...
1. Jesus gave the example of honoring one's parents - Mt 15:3-6
a. The tradition of the elders taught giving to the temple
freed one from giving to his or her parents
b. Thus rendering the command of God of no effect
2. There are traditions of men today with similar affect
a. Such as the practice of sprinkling for baptism, a tradition
b. When one keeps the tradition of sprinkling, they make the
command of God to be baptized (immersed) of no effect!
3. Through keeping such traditions, one is actually rejecting the
command of God! - cf. Mk 7:8-9
B. THEY CAN LEAD TO VAIN WORSHIP...
1. When traditions of men are taught on the same level as the
commands of God, it leads to vain worship - Mt 15:9
2. Such worship may appear to be impressive, but it in actually
a. First, because God did not command it
b. Second, because it does not accomplish the good we really
need - cf. Co 2:20-23
C. THEY CAN LEAD TO HYPOCRITICAL WORSHIP...
1. Traditions of men tend toward ritualism (just look at the
rituals found in many religions that have no scriptural basis)
2. Such ritualism is often done repeatedly, with little thought
as to its origin and purpose
3. It is easy to go through such rituals, with the heart and mind
on other things
4. Worship without the heart (or mind) of man is hypocritical
worship! - Mt 15:7-8
1. What are traditions?
a. They are simply teachings that have been handed down
b. In the case of inspired men (like the apostles) given in person
or through their writings, such traditions are good and to be
2. In the case of oral transmissions, given through a chain of
uninspired men, traditions are at best suspect...
a. Jesus did not hold the "traditions" orally transmitted through
the Jews on par with God's written word
b. Neither should we hold "traditions" orally transmitted through
Christians on par with God's written word
3. At worst, traditions of men can be vain and deadly...
a. When their observance leads one to not keep a command of God
b. When they are taught as doctrine, on par with God's word
c. When they lead to ritualism, done without engaging the heart and
mind of man
From Jesus' words, let us be aware of "The Danger With Traditions", and
make sure that our faith and practice is based upon the written Word of
God, not the interpretations and teachings of uninspired men!
Blind Leaders Of The Blind (15:12-14)
1. Who can you trust regarding religious matters today?
a. Many people trust their preacher, priest, or pastor
b. They assume that "a man of God" must be trustworthy
2. Yet the Bible does not always speak highly of religious leaders...
a. Paul warned about "savage wolves" not sparing the flock of God
- Ac 20:29-30
b. Peter wrote of "false teachers" bringing in destructive heresies
- 2 Pe 2:1-2
-- Such men would knowingly destroy the people of God
3. Not all those who mislead do so knowingly...
a. Jesus told His disciples about "blind leaders of the blind"
- Mt 15:12-14
b. Being "blind" themselves, they may not be aware of how they
4. The end result is still the same, however...
a. Those misled still "fall into the ditch" and are destroyed - Mt
15:14; Isa 9:16
b. Whether led by a "false teacher", or by a "blind leader"
5. That we ourselves might not blindly follow a blind leader...
a. What are some of the characteristics of a blind leader?
b. How can we be sure not to be misled by a blind leader?
-- These are the questions we hope to answer in this study
[While Peter had much to say about false teachers (cf. 2 Pe 2), Jesus
had much to say about blind leaders...]
I. CHARACTERISTICS OF A BLIND LEADER
A. HOLDING TO THE TRADITIONS OF MEN...
1. This was the case of the Pharisees in Mt 15
2. They were willing to put their traditions above God's word
- Mt 15:3,6,9
3. Blind leaders today will do the same
a. Teaching as doctrine their traditions
b. Not knowing that what they teach comes from man, not God
B. MAKING DISTINCTIONS WHERE GOD HAS MADE NONE...
1. This was the case of the Pharisees in Mt 23, where they are
called "blind" five times
2. They made fine distinctions between the types of oaths one
could swear - Mt 23:16-22
3. Blind leaders will often do the same today
a. Making fine distinctions so that one need not keep God's
b. Saying some commands of God are essential to salvation, and
C. LEAVING COMMANDS OF GOD UNDONE...
1. Again, the Pharisees were guilty of this, for which they were
called "blind guides"
2. They left undone the "weightier" matters of God's law - Mt 23:
a. They stressed tithing, but neglected justice, mercy, faith
b. Thus they would strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel
3. Blind leaders today often do the same, but in reverse...
a. They are quick to stress the "weightier" matters, and leave
what they consider the "lighter" things undone
b. But Jesus said we should do both, leaving neither undone!
D. FOCUSING ONLY ON THE OUTER MAN...
1. The "blind Pharisee" worked only on the outside - Mt 23:25-28
a. Concerned with keeping the traditions of ritual cleansing
b. Willing to put up with extortion, self-indulgence,
hypocrisy and lawlessness
2. Today, blind leaders are happy with the appearance of
a. Big buildings, large crowds
b. Accepting people into the church without challenging them
to true repentance
E. OTHER CHARACTERISTICS...
1. From this passage (Mt 23) in which Jesus assails the
Pharisees, we glean some other characteristics of those who
were blind leaders
2. Summarizing these quickly...
a. They say and do not, binding heavy burdens on others - Mt
b. They do their works to be seen of men - Mt 23:5
c. They love the attention and special treatment by others
- Mt 23:6-7
d. They wear religious titles, though Jesus condemned it - Mt
e. They fail to truly show the way to the kingdom of heaven
- Mt 23:13
f. They use their religion to make money and impress others
- Mt 23:14
g. They don't make people better, they make them worse! - Mt
h. They honor the men of God who went before them, but are
more like those who persecuted the people of God - Mt 23:
[Sadly, this sounds like many religious leaders today, especially some
on TV! If we are not careful, we can easily be led astray by them.
This leads to our next point...]
II. HOW NOT TO BE MISLED BY BLIND LEADERS
A. LISTEN TO THEM CAREFULLY...
1. We need to have the same attitude as the Bereans - Ac 17:11
a. When Paul came to town, they "received the word with all
b. This describes how they listened to Paul - paying close
attention to the things he was teaching
2. We must first give all teachers a fair and careful hearing
a. Seek to understand exactly what they are saying
b. It requires that we be good listeners
-- Many are misled because they have never learned to listen
carefully to what is being taught them! (How well do you
B. SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES DAILY...
1. This was another noble quality of the Bereans - Ac 17:11
a. Having listened carefully, they then went home and compared
what Paul said to the Scriptures
b. They did not simply accept whatever Paul said
2. Unfortunately, many today are Biblically illiterate...
a. They do not follow along in their Bibles when someone is
teaching or preaching
b. They do not read their Bibles daily
-- Failure to do these things leaves one in a blind condition,
unable to discern what is the word of God, or some teaching
and tradition of man!
1. What will be the end of blind leaders, and those who follow them?
a. Like plants, they will be "uprooted" by the Heavenly Father - Mt
b. Together they will both "fall into a ditch" - Mt 15:14
c. Though very religious, thinking that they serve the Lord, Jesus
will tell them: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who
practice lawlessness!" - cf. Mt 7:21-23
2. Who are to blame, if people are misled by blind leaders?
a. The blind leader will be held accountable, but not totally
a. If people are blind, it is only because they have closed their
own eyes - Mt 13:15
May the example of the Bereans remind us of what is necessary not to be
misled by blind leaders, and may we so see and hear that what Jesus
said will be true of us:
"But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they
hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous
men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear
what you hear, and did not hear it." (Mt 13:16-17)