Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Matthew Ch.15 / 28 Ch.s


* 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)

#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.

#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, #Jer
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.

#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.

#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.