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Matthew  ◦   Chapter 15

1 Then some of the lawyers and theologians from church headquarters in Jerusalem came to challenge Jesus. They asked,2 "Why don't your disciples follow the rules the elders established and undergo ceremonial cleansing before they eat?"

3 Jesus, not being intimidated, replied: "Why do you break God's own design and law for the sake of your own man-made traditions?4 For God designed us to love, and said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'Anyone who curses their parents must be put to death.'5 Yet you teach people to tell their parents, 'Whatever resources I have are dedicated to the church, and therefore won't be available to help you.'6 They are instructed by you not to honor their parents with their resources, thus you nullify God's word and replace his design of love with your own selfish tradition.7 You are hypocrites! It is you Isaiah was describing when he said:

8 "'These people proclaim their love for me with their mouths, but their hearts are as far away from love for me and my methods as they can get.9 Their worship is useless, and their teachings are nothing but man-made rules.'"

10 Jesus turned to the crowd, called them to himself, and said: "Listen and understand what really matters:11 What goes in a person's mouth doesn't change their character, so it cannot make them 'unclean,' but what comes out of their mouth is an expression of their character and is what makes them 'unclean.'"

12 His disciples came to him later and said, "Don't you realize that you are upsetting the church leaders by saying such things?"

13 Jesus replied, "Understand this clearly: Every tree that was not planted by my Father will be pulled up by the roots.14 Don't worry about them. They are blind to the reality of my Father's kingdom, yet they try to guide others to it. But you know that when a blind person leads another blind person, they both fall into the same pit."

15 Peter said, "Will you explain this parable to us?"

16 Looking at them, Jesus answered, "Are you really so steeped in tradition that you don't understand?17 Don't you realize that what enters the body through the mouth goes into the stomach, passes through and then leaves the body?18 But what comes out of the mouth is an expression of what is in the heart — an expression of the character; and what is evil in the character makes a person 'unclean.'19 For evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual perversity, dishonesty, theft, deceit, gossip–they all come out of the heart.20 It is selfishness in the heart, manifested in words and deeds, that makes a person 'unclean;' but eating with hands not ceremonially washed doesn't have any impact on character and thus doesn't make one 'unclean.'"

21 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon.22 Suddenly, a Canaanite woman began crying out to him, calling: "Lord, Heir of David, have compassion on me! My daughter is being tormented by a demon!"

23 Jesus wanted to see how his disciples would respond, so he remained silent. His disciples said to him, "Send her away; she's being such a nuisance, crying out after us wherever we go."

24 Jesus looked at her and said, "I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel."

25 But she didn't lose heart; instead, she pressed forward, fell at his feet, and said, "Lord, please help me!"

26 He gently said, "It isn't proper to take the food off the table before the children have eaten and give it to their puppies."

27 "You're right, Lord," she pressed, "but even the puppies eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table before his children are fed properly."

28 Jesus smiled and said, "Young lady, your trust and determination are amazing. What you desire, you now have." And her daughter was healed at that very moment.

29 From there, Jesus went along the coast of the Sea of Galilee, then walked up a hillside and sat down.30 Large multitudes flocked to him, bringing their sick, paralyzed, blind, crippled, deaf, mute, and anyone else who was disabled, and presented them before Jesus. He healed every one of them.31 The people were overwhelmed with awe when they saw mutes speak, the paralyzed stand and walk, the blind see, and the sick made well. They shouted praises to the God of Israel.

32 Looking upon the crowds, Jesus called his disciples and said, "I am concerned for the people. They have been here three days and haven't eaten. It's a long journey home, and I don't want to send them away hungry; they might collapse from exhaustion."

33 His disciples, apparently forgetting to whom they were talking, said, "Where could we possibly get enough bread to feed this crowd? We're in the middle of nowhere!"

34 Jesus smiled and asked, "How many loaves do you have?" "We only have seven, and a few small fish," they replied.

35 Jesus directed the crowd to sit down on the ground,36 then took the seven loves and few fish, and after thanking his Father, broke them and gave the pieces to the disciples who passed them on to the people.37 Everyone ate until they were full. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of leftovers.38 Four thousand men, plus women and children, were fed.39 After they finished eating, Jesus dispersed the crowd, got into a boat, and went to the region of Magadan.