102. Jesus teaches about inner purity: Matthew 15:1-20, Mark 7:1-23
News was spreading throughout the land. The religious leaders came from Jerusalem to Gennesaret (#6 on the map) to interrogate this upstart named Jesus who violated the Jewish rabbinical traditions.
Mosaic traditions came from God through Moses. The hundreds of rabbinical laws were added over the centuries after the Jews' returned from Babylon. Jesus' disciples were breaking one of them by not properly washing.
Jesus replied to their challenge with a question to get at the motive of the religious leaders' hearts, but what does the fifth commandment to honor one's mother and father have to do with ceremonial washing? Everything!
The vow of Corban (literally means "offering") was a rabbinical tradition that required money be dedicated to God's temple, but it became a religiously acceptable way to neglect one's parents!
Jesus knew everything about the uncleanness of the hearts of these blind guides and turned their interrogation into an object lesson for the crowd. God is more concerned with the cleanness of your heart than external following of laws in order to appear clean on the outside.
Jesus quoted a prophecy from Isaiah that said this would be so (29:13).
The following event starts year three of Jesus' public ministry A.D. 29-30.
103. Jesus sends a demon out of a girl: Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30
Jesus withdrew to Tyre and Sidon (8 & 9 on the map) to get away from the pesky religious leaders and encountered a pagan Gentile woman from the Canaanites. The Canaanites were the original inhabitants of Palestine. They caused many men of Israel to stumble as they disobeyed God by marrying the idol worshiping Canaanites (Numbers 13:29). They were despised by the Israelites and referred to as "dogs." Matthew's Jewish audience would have understood what a persistent act of faith it was for this woman to approach a Jewish rabbi! Mark's Gentile audience would have been in wonder and thanksgiving!
The woman's faith was great because she understood that even Jesus' leftover "crumbs" had the power to deliver her daughter from demon possession! This story is significant in that even though Jesus' focus was the Jews, He also cared about Gentiles who exercised faith. You will remember that Jesus only commended Gentiles for their great faith, here and the story of the Roman officer's son (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10, Event #68).
104. Jesus heals many people: Matthew 15:29-31, Mark 7:31-37
Jesus went 20 miles north to Sidon on the coast and then southeast, avoiding Galilee, to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee called Decapolis (#10 on the map). Commentators believe this out of the way route was to guard His time with His disciples as He gave final teachings. This also explains why He gave orders not to tell anyone about the healing of the man.
The Mark account gives details about the deaf man who had trouble speaking. Jesus said, "Ephphatha!" Some commentators believe that this indicates that the man was not a Gentile because Aramaic was spoken by the Jews.
105. Jesus feeds 4,000: Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-10
This occurs in the predominantly Gentile region of Decapolis (#10 on the map). The inclusion of the Gentile world in God's plan of salvation is again reinforced at the feeding of the 4,000. The 5,000 were mostly Jews, but the 4,000 were located in a Gentile region of Palestine.
Today's "Gentiles" are the unreached people groups spread throughout the world. 30 percent of the world has never heard the Good News!
Maybe you can pray for the "Unreached People of the Day" for today!
Lord, I thank You that You have a plan for all! Help us to join You in the plan of seeing people from every nation, people, tongue, and tribe worshiping at Your throne! We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.