Matthew 15:1-20 Part 2

At the appointed time, the Lord Jesus Christ – the Son of God – the second Person of the Triune Godhead – God the Word, became flesh.  And He was manifested to the nation which had been set apart as God’s people.  That nation, because of its own sin, had become the harlot of the world – demon-infested, co-mingled with the surrounding world order and led by blind guides.

And having misinterpreted, mishandled, misappropriated and added to God’s Word for their own benefit, they did not know God’s Anointed One when He came.  As Isaiah prophesied, they despised Him and rejected Him.

Having already crossed over the sea to the Gentile nations three times, He explicitly exhibited the cutting off and the leaving behind of this people who had before entered into a covenant of obedience.  But Israel had completely abandoned that covenant, and they were now to receive the fullness of the sanctions promised by God.  But the masses of unclean, pagan, Gentile humanity were now to be included in the covenant.  The nation which God had called “heaven and earth” would be destroyed (which it was in 70 AD), and the new Kingdom would be inclusive of all nations and peoples of the earth!

During the exposition of fourteen chapters of this Gospel we have seen the unbelief and rejection and animosity of Israel’s religious and civil leadership (and its people); and, on the three occasions of “crossing over” the sea we have witnessed the Christ as He did three things:

1)    He sent the demons into the abyss,

2)    He provided the image of His Body being the Bread of Life to the nations of the world, and

3)    He was manifested as Prophet, Priest and King Who brings a complete restorative process to the wilderness of lawless chaos and death.


But as we began chapter fifteen last Lord’s Day, the closer we come to the crucifixion of God’s Messiah, the more virulent the antagonism in Israel!  Large numbers of those who had been following Him because of his miracles abandoned Him when He preached the meaning of His Body being the eternal satisfaction for the hunger of man!

And then a prestigious delegation from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem shows up in Galilee to discredit Him among those who remained His followers.  They set out to prove that He was a law-breaker and a fake – and was worthy only of disdain and even death!  You see, Israel was in a very precarious position.  It was morally and theologically bankrupt; and politically its situation was tenuous and chaotic.

As far as its moral and theological bankruptcy was concerned, instead of God’s Holy Law being obeyed and honored with joy and gladness as the inspired revelations of His perfections – and with gratitude for His covenant mercies, a system of commentaries and expansions of the law was developed through the generations and collected in the Talmud and Midrashim.  So, rather than the Law of God prophesying The Christ, Who was the fullness of that Law, the law of Israel became the precepts of men!

And as far as Israel’s chaotic political situation was concerned, internal strife had split the nation into warring groups; terror and murder and fighting had escalated into uncontrollable proportions; and the delicate balance between Israel and Rome was at the breaking point.  Any large splinter group could tilt that balance too far and cause the armies of the world’s rulers to teach this tiny nation a lesson!

So God’s Anointed One had come, at the appointed time; and at a point in history of aggravated moral degeneracy and rebellion against God – and also at a time of violent political and social strife.

And the arrival of the Sanhedrin delegation at Capernaum was for the purpose of putting an end to the influence of this new “pseudo-prophet” up in Galilee, and returning the people’s allegiance to the “real” leaders of Israel – the Pharisees and the Scribal “doctors of law”.

And their intent was to discredit Jesus before the crowds, showing them that this Man was a lawbreaker and a fake and another wild-eyed religious “fringy” similar to other break-away fanatics who had lately arisen!  And at their first contact with Jesus - in the middle of a huge crowd of people – they got right to the point, as verse two in our text indicates, and as we saw last Lord’s Day.

They accused Jesus of teaching His disciples not to observe the doctrine of the elders, which was found in the Halacha – specifically the requirements regarding the purifying washings before eating!  This was one of the more than six hundred additional laws, not found anywhere in God’s Law, which bound the consciences of Jewish people to an outward pretext of piety!  And this was one of those issues which especially set the Pharisees apart as “super-religious”, because they scrupulously adhered to (at least in public) the minute specifics of these man-made laws!

So one of the real issues here, behind the spoken question of the Pharisees, was that Jesus was undermining the public piety and the influence of the Pharisees!  You remember that the Pharisees wore long, flowing tassels on their mantles in order to set them apart from the general population; they loved to pray in public; they loved to stand on the busy street corners in order to be adored in public; they wore long faces of suffering in order to let others know they were fasting; and they made great display of tithing and gift-giving at the temple and to the poor on the streets!  Man-made law and self-exultation go hand-in-hand; and the Pharisees were experts at condemning others by comparison to themselves!

So the precepts of men – found in the Halacha – was the basis for judging the Word of God made flesh, the second Person of the Triune God-head, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, prophesied by the Law and the prophets.  Here was the fullness of that Word which was given to Moses at Sinai, and He was being judged by man-made law!

And not only was the Halacha made His judge, but, now, we’ll see that the men who used the Halacha used it that way against Him, constantly involved themselves in perversions of their own law for their own benefits – and taught Israel to do the same!

And that’s how Jesus Christ, the Son of God – the Law-Giver – responds to them in verses three through six:  by accusing them of violating the Holy Law of God!  They accuse Him and His disciples of violating the traditional teachings of men; and He accuses them of violating the Law of God!

Now, before we come to the violated Commandment itself, let me say something about the words that were used here, because they are especially interesting.  The Greek word which I’ve translated “violate” (verse three) is a rare word in the New Testament, being used only three or four times.  But those few occasions provide us with sufficient information to know that the word has to do with the depth of sin and guilt.

For example, in the first chapter of Acts, verse twenty-five, Luke records what looks to be a simple, declarative sentence:  a new apostle was to be chosen to replace Judas, who, by withdrawing, fell!  The “withdrawing” of Judas is this same word that I’ve translated “violate” here in our text.  It’s full meaning is that, by the instigation of Satan, Judas violated, or transgressed, his purpose; and he “went beyond” he purpose to be in opposition!  And that transgression resulted in guilt!

The only further example of this word, other than in our text, is found in Second John, verse nine, where the apostle John’s subject is those who don’t abide in the doctrine of Christ.  The context is deceivers and antichrists who “go beyond” the teaching of Christ, and, thereby, have no fellowship with God!  The “going beyond” Christ’s doctrine is deception involving transgression and guilt!

Now, if we bring that back to verse three of our text, we see that Jesus accuses the Pharisees of “going beyond” the Commandment of God, thereby transgressing or violating that Commandment and involving themselves in guilt.  And it’s clear in the sanctions of this Commandment that death is to result from that guilt!

Now.  If you look quickly at verse six, you’ll see that Jesus uses another word – instead of violate.  He says, “… you revoked (or annulled) the WORD of God by your teaching.”  This is also a rare word.  The apostle Paul uses it one time in describing the irrevocable nature of God’s promise to Abraham with regard to his seed being all the nations of the world!  In other words, that promise cannot be brought to none effect!

So what Jesus says, here in verse six of our text, is that the Pharisees have revoked the Word, or the Covenant, of God – they have brought it to none effect – annulled!  As you can see, there is abject finality in Jesus’ words.  The leadership of Israel has gone beyond the very Commandment of God, and they have brought the Covenant of God to none effect!  The Covenant that God made with His people Israel is revoked and is culminated!

Our minds are immediately brought back to chapter twenty-eight of Deuteronomy where Moses sets the conditions for Israel for continuation in God’s Covenant.  And those conditions were obedience to God’s Words.  And if they violated or revoked God’s Word, then the sanctions were abandonment from the Covenant!  The finality of Moses’ words there are reflected in the finality of Jesus’ words here in our text.]  Isn’t this what faithing, as well covenant theology, “Federal vision”, etc….. is all about????

Now let’s go to the text and read Jesus’ perfect example of the Pharisees’ violation and revocation of God’s Covenant.  Verse three:


“…and you, why do you violate the Commandment of God by your teaching?  For God says, ‘honor the father and the mother,’ and, ‘the one reviling father or mother, let him die the death.’”  (or, surely he shall be put to death)  “but you declare ‘whoever says to father or to mother A Gift!, whatever from me you might have benefited,’ shall in no way honor his father; and you have revoked the Word of God by your teaching….”


Now, as you can see, Jesus quotes from a section of the Halacha on vows, whereby one could simply claim that he had made a vow to the temple, so whatever his parents needed wasn’t available to them!  So this man-made law, practiced, and taught to Israel by the Pharisees, violated the Law of God for parents to be honored; and, in fact, this man-made law and its practice is the source of reviling of parents; and Jesus uses it as a perfect example of “going beyond” the Law of God (thereby reaping the guilt of transgression), and revoking the Covenant of God!  And let’s remember that this is only one of six hundred twelve instances where the Halacha “goes beyond” the Law of God, violating His Law and revoking His Covenant.  These were the “teachings of the elders” to which the Pharisees referred when they accused Jesus and His disciples of not washing before eating – another law not found anywhere in the Law of Moses!

And before we leave that, I might make mention of something that was said last Lord’s Day, and that is that not only was the Halacha an addition to, and a perversion of, and a violation of God’s Law (revocation of the Covenant); but it was commonplace among the leadership and people of Israel to pervert the teachings of the Halacha!  And this formula that Jesus quotes, which was used to avoid meeting the needs of parents, is a good example of that.  When an obligation (parents’ needs, payment of debts, etc.) was brought to one’s attention, it was common to claim the temple vow after the fact!  In other words, the fact that a temple vow had not already been made didn’t stop the people from claiming it anyway – in order to avoid the obligation!  So the claim of a temple vow was a lie in many cases – and never paid!  Another example of outward conformity to regulation but being inwardly morally degenerate.

Now let’s see some things about the Commandment itself which Jesus uses as an example – the violating of which has revoked the Covenant of God, requiring the death penalty.  We’ve already seen the formula in the Halacha, which is used to avoid compliance with the Commandment.  Now let’s look at the Law of God – the violation of which brings death and abandonment.

And what I want to do first is to learn what this word “honor” means.  “Honor your father and your mother.”  And then maybe we can answer the question – “Why are father and mother used in this Decalogue Commandment from God, rather than some other authoritative figure in society?”

The word “honor” (tima in Greek) means to value; to respect; to regard; to recognize and give dignity or worth.  The Hebrew word, of course, appears in both revelations of the Law – Exodus twenty and Deuteronomy five.  It also appears, as in the text this morning, in every case in the Gospels where this Law is quoted.

But is also appears in the inspired letters of the New Testament on a number of occasions – all of which give us some insight into its meaning.  For example, the apostle Paul writes to Timothy (First Timothy chapter five, verse three) that widows are to be honored in the Church.  And, absent any visible support, that honor is to include financial support!

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he says that children are to honor their parents; and that honor includes obedience in the Lord.  In First Peter two, seventeen, the context of which is obedience to civil authorities, the apostle tells the Churches to pay all men the honor due to each.

In John chapter five it is said that Jesus has been clothed by His Father with honor and glory.  Jesus is the express image of His Father, and He discharges that office by submission and obedience; and that obedience involves active acknowledgement and fulfillment of the Divine will.  And those who honor Jesus will, in turn, be honored by the Father.  That is – they will share in His glory!

And, of course, we have these texts in the Gospels which say that the honor given isn’t to be just “lip” honor; or just words.  It is to be from the heart – from the center of man and what he is.  In other words, it is to be “real”, and not just outward words or “show”.

Now, where does this idea of giving respect and value and dignity – glory – and worth to others in their several positions come from?  It comes from the fact that God has established the authority!  The due “honor” is because God has instituted that authority.  It’s not the man (or woman) in the position.  And it’s not the “position” that has inherent worth.  And it’s not the situation which elicits our respect – but God!  He places the authority there; and it derives from Him!  And whether one exercises his authority in a Godly manner is not the issue!  The fact is that it is still honoring to God to honor His established authority because that authority derives from Him!

And here’s the answer to the question – “Why parents?”  Parents are especially chosen to represent the whole of God’s authority structure because they are the foundation of orderly society!  The honoring of parents is the honoring of the representative of God in the home – and the home is the very “ground” of societal order!  It is the most local – most immediate.  Therefore the “reviling” of parents is the very “apex” of contempt for God and all His structure of authority!  Society!

Listen to the Scriptures:


Exodus twenty-one, verse seventeen.  “He that reviles his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”


Leviticus twenty, verse nine:  For everyone who reviles his father or his mother shall be surely put to death; he hath reviled his father or his mother.  His blood shall be upon him.”


Deuteronomy twenty-seven, verse sixteen:  “Cursed is he who scorns – dishonors – his father or his mother.”        Cursed by God!!


So what does this word “reviling” mean?  “The one reviling father or mother, let him die the death!”  “Honor father and mother” – “The one reviling father or mother shall surely be put to death!”  Reviling is the exact opposite of honor, isn’t it?  And since “to honor” means to value, to respect, to regard, to give glory, dignity and worth, to obey and to provide financial support – then reviling parents means to devalue, to disrespect, to disregard, to de-dignify and de-worth, to disobey and to withhold support!  So, revile means to de-value one’s parent.

So, now the Pharisees, Israel’s religious leaders, had used man-made law to “vow away” obedience to God’s Holy Law – reviling God’s established dignity in the home, and de-glorifying God Himself Who gave that authority.  And it is a sin worthy of death!  So the charge made by Jesus is complete.  They’ve extended God’s Law and taught it to the nation; they’ve established their own man-made law; they’ve subverted and perverted their own law through covetousness; and they’ve revoked and brought to none effect the Covenant of God!  And the revoking of the Covenant brought a flood of judgment from God as He prosecuted the sanctions of His Covenant – resulting in the annihilation of the city of Jerusalem and the state of Israel by the Roman armies in 70 AD.

Now, before we finish I want to speak to your hearts for a minute – to press in a little with regard to this issue of honoring your parents, and other authority.

Who among the men and women and children of God are not disgusted at the murderers who are flourishing in our society?  The killing of unborn babies; the shooting and stabbing and maiming of others who are the image of God?  Sixth Commandment!

Who among God’s elect people would fail to shudder in horror at the awful sexual permissiveness and decline in morality in our country?  Seventh Commandment!

Who among the lovers of the Kingdom of God would not cry out against theft and robbery?  Eighth Commandment!

Who among the lovers of Christ Jesus are not appalled at the open idolatry of Satanic cults, and blasphemy in the Churches?  First Commandment!

But isn’t this fifth Commandment – “Honor your father and your mother” – in the same list of ten?  Is this fifth Commandment less a sin than these others?  God said, “give unto every one his due” – joyfully and gladly.  Our parents’ due is HONOR.  Don’t withhold from your parents what belongs to them – given by God!  Value.  Respect.  Dignity.  Glory.  Obedience.  Material support.  He established that authority.  Do not say to God, “But my parents aren’t….”  “But my mother doesn’t….”  “My parents do this to me….”  Don’t manipulate the Law of God!  That’s what the Pharisees did, and they were cut off from the Covenant for violating and revoking the Word of God!  We need to repent from the sin of reviling our parents!

Fill your thoughts and practices with Godliness.  And honor God, the Lord Jesus Christ by honoring your parents – and all of your other earthly authorities.  By doing so you honor Him.  “If you are risen in Him, seek those things which are above.”

Next Lord’s Day our Lord gets serious abut condemning these blind guides of Israel.