v1-11 - The Establishment (Pharisees and other religious leaders) was keen on making sure that Israel remained a 'godly' country.
They had devised an intricate system of rules and customs designed to keep a person from ever coming close to breaking an actual commandment of God.
They were upset because Jesus' disciples were not keeping one of those rules by ceremonially washing their hands before eating.
Jesus calls them out on their hypocrisy.
They had developed a very advantageous rule that stated that any money 'devoted to God (v5)' didn't need to be used to care for their elderly parents.
In this way, a family could qualify for charity even though they had money.
As soon as the elderly parents had died, this money could then be 'undevoted' to God and used however they say fit.
Essentially, this 'godly' rule they had was a very effective tax shelter.
Jesus' point is that true Godliness comes out of a person, and can't be put into a person by means of following man made rules and traditions.
v12-20 - The disciples are perplexed by all of this, because all of their lives they had seen the Establishment as the models of successful 'godly' living.
But Jesus has harsh words for those who seek to make their own definition of righteousness the norm for the rest of society.
He compares them to weeds in His Father's garden who will be uprooted.
Jesus goes even further in v14:
They are blind guides.
If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
I'm sure you would never follow a blind leader on a hike around the Grand Canyon, right?
But think of the many influences you're bombarded with each day in the various medias that constantly surround us.
These influencers may not be overtly evil, and may even seem good and godly, but if they're not being led by God's Word, they'll lead you off a cliff.
v21-39 - The first verse of this passage sets the context for the rest of it: After once again being rejected by the Jewish Establishment, Jesus left Israel and went up into Gentile country.
There Jesus is amazed by the faith of the Canaanite woman (read last year's Dig Deeper post for more on the seemingly harsh words Jesus uses).
Jesus also has compassion on these Gentile people (v32), and feeds thousands of them in the same way He fed the Jewish people yesterday in chapter 14.
Matthew records these Gentiles as doing something the Jewish establishment is supposed to be doing but never does: "They praised the God of Israel (v31)."
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL— When Jesus fed the four thousand, how many loaves of bread did He begin with, and how many basketfuls of leftovers were there? (See verses 34–37.)
Review what Jesus says in verses 17–20 about what makes a person “unclean.” If this is what makes us unclean, what is it that makes us clean?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The great God of Israel who has now called all people to Him.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Honor God with both your lips and your hearts, and do not follow the teachings of men (v8-9 / Isaiah 29:13).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: