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Matthew 15:1-20

Matters of the Heart

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • February 3, 2019

The Bible gives us powerful insights into what makes us tick, meaning our hearts. While we might deceive others or even fool ourselves when it comes to our passions and motives, God is not deceived or fooled. God, in His infinite love, speaks to our hearts so that He may fix our hearts. As we will discover, He alone can address the Matters of the Heart.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Matters of the Heart

Matthew 15:1-20


1.The Bible gives us powerful insights into what makes us tick, meaning our hearts.

Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?

2.While we might deceive others or even fool ourselves when it comes to our passions and motives, God is not deceived or fooled.

Jeremiahs 17:10, I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways,
according to the results of his deeds.

3.In Matthew 15, Jesus confronted His interrogators, the religious elite, the establishment. True to form, the establishment focused on one’s outward conformity to man-made rituals.

4.But Jesus revealed the real issue; their hearts, and by way of application, our hearts too.

5.God, in His infinite love, speaks to our hearts so that He may fix our hearts. As we will discover, He alone can address the Matters of the Heart.

Matthew 15:1-20


1.After feeding the 5,000, actually 10 to 15,000 when women and children are counted, we’re told that Jesus’ fame began to spread throughout all Israel and beyond.

2.Matthew 15:1 tells us that a delegation of scribes and Pharisees was sent from Jerusalem to check out Jesus.

3.To be clear, they did not come to celebrate His popularity, rather they were concerned about His growing fame because people spoke of Him as a great prophet and some talked about making Him king.

4. Their goal was to find a flaw in His life or ministry so that they may “knock Him down a few notches”, or better yet accuse Him of being a heretic so that the crowds may think less of Him.

5.Then they get their chance! Armed with their accusation, they sprung their question on Jesus. They had discovered that His disciples were not washing their hands according to the “tradition” of the elders before they ate bread. It was probably a good thing those Jewish leaders weren’t around when Jesus fed the crowd of 15,000 in a remote location!

6.Can you just imagine that scene? Jesus feeding the great multitude with only five barely loaves and two fish while the scribes and Pharisees were taking down the names of those who failed to wash their hands according to the tradition of the elders.

Transition – The scribes and Pharisees demanded an answer from Jesus, and an answer is what they got, only it was not the answer they expected. Jesus was on offense!

I.God Means What He Says

  • Matthew 15:1-20 is really about answering the question, “How shall we live our lives?”
  • What will guide us and the way we live? Many people are guided by their own set of rules and principles they came up with all on their own. They are guided by whatever they think is right, which may change according to the situation and usually is bent in their own favor.
  • At that time, the Jewish leaders were guided by what is referred to here as the “tradition of the elders”. (2)
  • The history goes back to when Moses received the Law of God at Mount Sinai. Their tradition stated that Moses also passed oral traditions not written down.
  • These oral traditions of the elders were later written into what is now called the Mishnah and Midrash.
  • A commentary on the Mishnah was later written which is called the Gemara and that was put together in what is called the Talmud.
  • The Talmud was made up of 22 volumes of 563 books, 65 pages of which actually dealt with the issue of washing your hands!
  • Here’s the problem, they believed the authority of the oral traditions was greater than the Word of God!
  • Rabbi Eliezer, who lived during the time of Jesus, said, “If anyone expounds the scripture in opposition to the tradition, they would have no place in the world to come.”
  • The Mishnah reads, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis, than to contradict Scripture itself.” 

A. God’s Word is the highest authority

1.Jesus put His finger exactly on the problem when He said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (3)

2.There is nothing even close to that which is declared in the Word of God.

APPL – We believe in “Sola Scriptura”, meaning “in Scripture alone”! If tradition runs contrary to God’s Word, then the tradition is faulty, not God’s Word.

3.The problem is the Jewish leaders were heaping great burdens on to the people, which was contrary to what God wants.

Proverbs 30:5-6, Every word of God is tested… Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

Matthew 11:28-30, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

4.God gave His Word to us and sent it with His purpose which is higher than any of ours.

Isaiah 55:8-11, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

B.Don’t invalidate God’s Word with traditions

1.Jesus then brought them a perfect example of what they were doing wrong in verses 4-6.

2.“Honor your father and your mother” is the fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments. In fact, it’s the first commandment that comes with a promise.

Ephesians 6:2-3, Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

3.Of course, parents want to lay up an inheritance for their children; that’s in the Bible too. But it also states that children should take care of their parents when they are older. This is part of honoring them.

ILLUS – Malina wants to buy our home when she gets older!

4.But the “tradition of the elders” stated that a person could withhold from helping their parents by declaring their estate was “Corban”, which means “given to God” (Mark 7:11). Jesus said this was just plain wrong!

II. Righteousness Begins in the Heart

The whole issue of Corban was merely a loophole! The person never intended to help their parents and used the “tradition of the elders” as an escape clause! In the name of God, they justified depriving their parents of much needed help!

ILLUS – There is a loophole in golf

Jesus said the whole problem was found in their hearts. They were hypocrites, actors, people who wore a mask in a vain attempt to cover their real identities and motives.

This is a great lesson for us as well.

A.We become what we love

1.Jesus then declared that their hypocrisy was predicted over 700 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 29:13, Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…

2.God doesn’t want our traditions. He wants our hearts!

3.Why is the Lord so concerned about the heart? Because He knows that’s the only way to transform our lives.

APPL – Love is transforming and is prophetic of our future because we are becoming what we love.

ILLUS – A. W. Tozer wrote a masterful statement about the transforming power of love.

4.Someone once asked Jesus which was the greatest of all commandments and His response makes the point…

Mark 12:30, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

B. Watch over your heart with all diligence

Proverbs 4:23, Watch over your heart with all diligence,
for from it flow the springs of life.

1.That’s why Jesus called the multitude to Himself and said, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” (11)

2.In other words, we are not defiled by what we eat or how we eat it. Food never directly touches the heart.

3.Rather, it’s what comes out of our mouths that matters. In other words, it’s how you live your life for that’s what comes out of your heart.

Luke 6:45, The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

APPL – We need to pour the Word of God into our hearts.

Psalm 119:11, Your Word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.

APPL – Then take captive every thought that rises up against the knowledge of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5, We are destroying… every lofting thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

APPL – Then out of the overflow of our hearts, the content and tone of our words are changed.

Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

APPL – You see, the only way to truly fulfill the Scriptures is by being gracious in the heart, to think gracious thoughts, and then you will become a gracious person.

C. Sometimes being offended is a good thing

1.Verse 12 is classic. The disciples came to Jesus and said, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

2.Sometimes the only way we change is when God gets our attention, shakes up our world, and throws a bit of cold water in our face.

ILLUS – My dad confronting me about not going to church.

Galatians 3:1-3, You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

3.Jesus replied, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.” (13)

4.Notice the word “uprooted”.

APPL – If you just take the tops off weeds, they will soon grow back. Jesus wants to get to the root of that which needs to change in our lives.

  • That means that He needs to change our heart for we are transformed from the inside out.
  • Some say, “I’ll come to the Lord as soon as I get my act together.”
  • But there is a reason why their act is not together already!
  • Only God can change the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why He promised to give us new hearts when we come to faith in His Son, Jesus.

Ezekiel 36:26, Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.


APPL – New hearts change everything.

  • We believe from the heart (Romans 10:9-10)
  • We love from the heart (Matthew 22:37)
  • We sing from the heart (Colossians 3:16)
  • We obey from the heart (Romans 6:27)
  • We give from the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  • And that’s why David prayed from the heart… 

Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

APPL – What’s the condition of your heart? Will you permit the Lord to remove your heart of stone and give you a new heart? Will you let Him transform your life?

Matthew 15:1-20    NASB

1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." 3 And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?For God said, 'honor your father and mother,' and, 'he who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.'But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,"he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8'this people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far away from me.
'but in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'"
10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, "Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."
12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?" 13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
15 Peter said to Him, "Explain the parable to us." 16 Jesus said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also?17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."

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