Matthew 15:1-20 Part 4

Jesus addresses this delegation from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem as “hypocrites”.  They had just applied their “upside down” precepts of men – their extra-biblical law – to the Son of God and His disciples, and Christ makes direct application of Isaiah chapter twenty-nine to them.  And that chapter of Isaiah addresses Israel’s leadership as hypocritical.  In dismissing God’s Word in favor of their own, they have said to their Creator – “You don’t even understand what you’ve made!”  Jesus said that Isaiah was prophesying to these men standing before Him among this crowd of people who had been led astray by them.

Just as I was preparing to write this sermon, I remember I picked up the latest edition of the Chalcedon Report; and in it was an article by John Lofton, who wrote as “our man in Washington” each month in that periodical.  John was one of my favorites.  He used great insight to expose Anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-law movements and trends and events from his perspective in Washington.  His somewhat comical and biting sarcasm about the things that were going on in the nation was refreshing, because he shamed and debased and humiliated – with head-on confrontation – those people and things that were openly ungodly.

In this edition (in which he didn’t go quite far enough) he heaped scorn and contempt upon the latest of the “miracle healing evangelists”.  John wrote that he was watching the Pat Robertson 700 Club, and the guest was Benny Hinn, who was then conducting crusades all across America in which there were great “signs” and “wonders” taking place.

Robertson shows a film clip of one of Hinn’s crusades during which, beginning with the front, people are falling down – slain in the spirit – by rows!  One row after another, beginning with the first one.  After the film clip Robertson asks him “What’s happening here?”  And Benny Hinn says that “People are hungry for the supernatural.  And I don’t even have to touch them.  All I have to do is blow my breath into the microphone!”

He told the story of when he was in Mexico.  A preacher said to him that he didn’t even have to pray – just give a little talk, and miracles break loose.  So he did – and miracles broke loose!  He says that never in America’s history has there ever been anything like this!  Everywhere he goes twelve to fifteen thousand people show up to witness the “signs and wonders”!

At that point during the show, Lofton wrote that Hinn then began to look at Robertson’s audience and said, “Just lift your hands and ask me.  We command disease to ‘go!’”  And he started naming diseases with which the audience was afflicted and which were right then being healed.  And Pat Robertson got into the act too, and said, “Don’t stop, Benny.  Praise the Lord!”  And while Benny Hinn’s 800 number was flashing across the screen they all had a great time with the “signs and wonders” from “the Lord”.

Lofton then stopped writing about his 700 Club experience and began to write about Benny Hinn’s new book called Good Morning, Holy Spirit, which had already sold a half million copies.  And after calling Hinn a heretic, he began to rip him apart on his Theology.  Apparently Hinn had had some kind of “profound spiritual experience” at a Katherine Kuhlman “faith camp”.  And, quoting from another book review in “Christianity Today”, Lofton says that Hinn’s teaching is a “Theological quagmire emanating from Biblical misinterpretation and extra-Biblical ‘revelation knowledge’”.

For example, Hinn says, concerning the Trinity, “If I can shock you – and maybe I should – there’s nine of them!”  Apparently he thinks that each person in God’s Triunity is also Triune!  Nine persons in the Trinity!  He claims that he has an entirely new picture of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Now, this is where Lofton didn’t go far enough.  He could have brought thunderclaps of odious verbiage down on this man’s head – like Jesus did to these Pharisees.  He could have sent him away publicly humiliated – like Jesus did to these Pharisees!  I wanted to read more public denunciation of this heretic!  But Lofton stopped the article.

Now, if the Church won’t censure and expose and excommunicate these people who are leading thousands of other people into false and cultic religion, then I’m even for the state doing it!  There’s this thoroughly humanistic idea in Reformed and Theonomic circles today that civil authority ought to stay out of anything having to do with false religion.  And it’s basis in saying that is that if the state gets involved in putting a stop to false religion, then it could spread to interfering with true religion!

But is that a Biblical position?  Is it true that we shouldn’t do what God commands because then we might do what God forbids?  Even if the state did overstep its bounds and interfere with Christian Churches, is that a reason for negating its responsibility to the public to shut down idolatry and religious hucksterism?

 The state of Israel was commanded by God to tear down all the idolatrous places of worship in Canaan when they took over the promised land.  And God continuously condemned the kings of Israel – the civil authorities – for allowing new pagan temples to be built!  There is Biblical precedent for the systematic eradication of that which would bring the wrath of God upon the nation!  And God lays that responsibility upon the heads of those who He’s given civil authority!

But national leaders, many times with the blessing of Church leaders, take it upon themselves to do just the opposite from what God commands!  They do what He says not to do, and they refuse to do what He expressly commands!  And it’s upside down!  And it is hypocritical for leaders, as we saw last Lord’s Day, to claim to be a moral and righteous nation and, at the same time, to follow after the precepts of men!

Those to whom much is given – much is required!  And God lays accountability to those to whom He’s given authority!  As we have seen with the nation of Israel, they – with the leadership in the forefront – were accountable to obey.  And since God sets up thrones and rulers and governments, He also takes them down!  Israel’s leaders didn’t see themselves as clay in the hands of the potter; they didn’t view themselves as creatures bound in covenant to submit to their Creator; they didn’t see themselves as responsible to remain what God made them!

I think we can say without any hesitation that when a potter molds a vase, or a flower pot and puts it in the kiln to bake – and then displays it on the shelf for sale – that he has a right to expect that the pot will submit to him and continue being a pot!  How he molded the pot, and where he set it on display brings the potter satisfaction and glory with respect to his handiwork!  But if the pot somehow decided to display itself as a treasure chest filled with its own treasure, and in its own house, and for its own glory – how would the potter react to that?

That’s exactly how Isaiah describes the nation of Israel in chapter twenty-nine of his prophecy – as subverting the design of God; and saying to God, “You don’t understand what You’ve made!  We have our own design and precepts in mind.”  And Jesus calls the leadership of that nation “hypocrites”, for they claim to be following after God, pretending to do so, but they’re not!  And they actually believe their own pretense!  And these, like Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson, were those who were teaching, and leading the people into idolatry and hypocrisy!

And just as thousands are showing up to participate in Benny Hinn’s “signs and wonders”, the nation of Israel was blindly and faithfully following the Pharisees in their extra-Biblical, outward show of religion!  And our nation is blindly following George Bush and his administration.

And, then, with the condemnation of the Pharisees as “hypocrites”, and making application to them of Isaiah chapter twenty-nine, Jesus seems to dismiss them from His purview and turns His attention to the crowds again.  Verse ten.  These are the ones who have been scattered and blinded and deafened by these hypocrites; and they are the ones for whose benefits the Pharisees made the accusations against Jesus and His disciples in the first place!  And it is before this same crowd that Jesus has openly confronted the Pharisees and shames them, and debases them and humiliates them.  He has called public attention to the fact that they are pretenders; and that they are ungodly law-breakers.

And as Jesus turns to the crowds, He publicly corrects the Pharisee’s sacramental and ceremonial rites of cleansing by saying this: 


“Hear and understand.  It is not that which enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds from the mouth – this defiles the man.”


Now, as we’ve seen before, the Pharisees have added a religious sacrament to God’s Law.  They claimed that the baptism of the hands cleansed them – so that the food that they touched and ate wouldn’t contaminate them with the world around them.  And, therefore, they remained ceremonially clean.  This idea developed through Rabbinical teaching that the chosen people of God were fundamentally clean.  It’s the world – the creationaround them which is unclean!  And, so, by coming in contact with that world, they contaminated their hands.  And by handling their food they could then eat and become contaminated inside!  The person – the man – could become profane, or defiled, or common with the rest of the world!  It would be anthropological contamination from the outside!

But Jesus corrects this un-Biblical and ungodly notion publicly.  “It’s not”, He says, “that which enters the mouth that makes the man profane, but what comes out of the mouth”!

Now please understand that Jesus is not saying that the spewing out of evil things from the mouth is what defiles the man!  Although the speaking of evil is, in itself, sinful, He is not calling attention here to the process of speaking!  He is focusing on the evil itself!  The evil is that which proceeds from the mouth.  And it defiles, or profanes, or makes common.

So the defilement isn’t physical, outward, or ceremonial, or cultic; it is a defilement which makes man inherently incapable of fellowship with God!  And, as Isaiah said, Israel had turned everything upside down!  It wasn’t that which entered into the mouth that defiled the man, but that which was in the man himself and came out of his mouth as an intrinsic and spontaneous effect!  In other words, what one is is what comes out, not what one puts in!  A lion roars because lions roar!  A dog barks because dogs bark!  That’s what they do, and not because of something they eat!  Barks come from their mouths because they’re dogs!  And what comes out of man’s mouth, comes out because that’s what he is!  And what he is is defilement.  What he is is that which is incapable of communion with God.  We’ll hear some more about that when we come to verse fifteen and beyond, since the apostles don’t seem to understand it either.  And Jesus has to explain it to them.

But after saying that to the crowds, the disciples, here in verse twelve, gathered around Jesus.  And they asked Him “Do you know…” (are you aware) “that when the Pharisees heard the Word they were entrapped?”  There’s one of our old favorite words again – skandalizo.  The common versions have… “offended” as a translation.  The word, as you may remember, means to catch-in-a-snare-with-a-stick.  And it’s also used with reference to being crushed against a rock – and the Rock that is signified is Christ!  Surely these Pharisees were deeply offended at being trapped and exposed as heretics by the direct application of the condemnatory Word of God.  And they were openly and publicly crushed as they attempted to judge the Son of God by the precepts of men!  They were snared and crushed by Him!

So let’s not get the idea that Jesus’ disciples were concerned with the “feelings” of these hypocrites.  That’s what’s wrong with the word “offended”.  The disciples were not filled with sorrow about stepping on the “sensitivities” of those who wished to condemn God’s Messiah with their own law!  More than likely the Pharisees were sent into a rage – like any wild animal would do when it’s trapped!  And that’s what the disciples came to tell Jesus.  Their entrapment probably sent them into bitter resentment and anger and threats upon Jesus’ life!  And that is another step toward Jesus’ crucifixion, now less than a year away.

But it is God’s Law which leaves men laid bare and without excuse – killing them so that they die the death of exposure; exposure to what they really are.  This delegation from the Sanhedrin had suffered the most awful humiliation – having this Man, before a huge crowd of people, apply God’s prophecy to them in a most judgmental manner – proving them to be the hypocrites God condemned in Isaiah.  And then having their own teaching and example opposed and negated.

But there are always two reactions to God’s Holy Law being directly applied to man’s sin.  One of two, I should say.  There is either repentance or aggravated antagonism!  Poverty of spirit, or prideful resentment!  And if there is deep pain and sorrow at having been at enmity, fundamentally, with the righteousness of God, then the answer to that inherent defilement can be sought at the cross of Christ.  There is forgiveness.  But, in this case, there was only the howling and screaming and gnashing of teeth as the hellish demons were ensnared again in their attempt to snatch away the Kingdom.

And, then, in verses thirteen and fourteen, Jesus gives His disciples two Biblical images of these Pharisees – in parabolic form.  And the first one is this:  “Every plant that My Heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted out.”

Now, just see if you recognize this:


“The Kingdom of the Heavens is likened to a man sowing good seed in his field; but while the men slept, his adversary came and did over-sow zizanium throughout the wheat and went away.  But when the crop sprouted and bore fruit, then the zizanium was also made apparent.  And having come forward, the slaves of the housemaster said to him, ‘Lord, did you not sow good seed in your field?  How then does it have zizanium?’  And he affirmed to them ‘A hostile man did this.’  And the slaves say to him, ‘Do you wish us to go and gather them?’  But he said, ‘No, lest, as the zizanium are being gathered you should uproot the wheat with them.  Let them both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the harvesters, ‘Gather first the zizanium and bind them in cords in order to burn them; but gather the wheat into my storehouse.’:


That’s, of course, the parable of the zizanium in the field, in chapter thirteen.  And when Jesus, here in chapter fifteen, says, “Every plant that My Heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted out…” He’s referring to that zizanium that was over-sowed in the field!  This nation and its leadership have been sowed in this field by the enemy.  And it has grown up in the wheat, which in now the remnant of the one hundred forty-four thousand lost sheep of the house of Israel!

Jesus says in the parable that His Heavenly Father did not plant these Pharisees – the enemy did.  And they are known by the fact that they have replaced God’s Law with their own; and, pretending to worship Him, they establish extra-Biblical sacraments, and honor Him by outward prescriptions; and they teach others to do the same!  And as ravenous wolves they have driven the sheep into prison darkness, blinding and deafening them, leaving them scattered and bruised.  They hypocritically seek the face of God by the precepts of men, but, secretly, the Potter has not made them – they seek their own glory in their own house!  And, lastly, they have denied their own inherent evil by creating a ritual cleaning of the outside world!

In fact, everything they are and do shows them to be zizanium which was over-sowed in God’s Garden – Israel!

You might think, from reading this – “the plants that God did not plant” – that Jesus was speaking of election and reprobation.  Of course, that’s the underlying Theological presupposition.  But Jesus is specifically connecting these Pharisees to the Garden of God which has been over-sowed by the enemy.  God, parabolically, did not do that planting.  And, therefore, they shall be rooted out at the harvest, bound, and burned.

Then, in verse fourteen here, Jesus says, “Send them away.” – dismiss them.  My Father didn’t plant them, so send them away.  There is nothing so terrible as abandonment by Christ.  But here they are, arrayed in hostile oppostion to Christ; they are creatures in personal competition with God their Creator; they see the facts upside down; God reveals things the way He made them, but they interpret them just the reverse; they are upside down.  They are aliens – unconnected and outside the order of things.

And Jesus here calls them “blind”.  Their view of things begins with themselves.  They don’t see things in reality – but in the reverse.  That which is perceptible and perspicuous and evident – because God made it and explained it – is translated or interpreted to be the opposite!  And this is a self-willed and obdurate blindness, which is fixed and final!  They deliberately choose to be blind, and then call their blindness sight!  Alien to the planting of the Sower, their precepts and teachings are the reverse of what is true!

And they are blind guides!  They are the ones who have been leading and teaching Israel for centuries!  That word “guides” is the same word that was used to describe the activity of the pillar of fire and the Shekinah Cloud that led God’s people in the Sinai!  And it’s the same word used to describe the Paraclete Who will be sent by Christ to guide His people into the truth!

But the nation has become blind – and the guides are blind!  And Jesus says that blind are leading blind!  And both will fall into a pit, which is symbolic of going down into the abyss where they belong – for there is no other place to go for those with reversed and upside-down perspectives.  “Send them away – they don’t belong to My Father.”  They’re blind, so let them lead the blind into that place where they belong.  Soon enough they will be uprooted.

So, too, will be the case with Benny Hinn, and Pat Robertson, and Jim Bakker, and Robert Tilton, and Jimmy Swaggert, and Robert Schuler, and Oral Roberts, and Norman Peale and Katheryn Kuhlman, and all else who give lip-service to God, but their hearts are far from Him.  Rejecting His Word and adding their own precepts, they all prove themselves to be blind leading blind.  Hypocrites – teaching others to violate the Commandments of God and revoking His Covenant.  They are ravenous wolves – blind guides.

Today’s ritual cleansing seems to be “being a participant in signs and wonders and miraculous things”.  But, you see, the miracles of our Lord were signs of the evil leadership in Israel who had left the sheep scattered and bruised and lost and blind and deaf….  Jesus healed them because He is the Good Shepherd – soothing their wounds, giving them sight, freeing them from the prison of darkness, restoring their hearing, setting a table before them and causing them to walk in green pastures – rather than in the wilderness.

And He gathers them all in – every last one.  And He even gives His life for them, sacrificing Himself to the ravenous wolves that they might have safety and restoration of their souls.  And the sheep know Him.  And they trust Him that He will not, as the blind guides did, lead them astray.