Home > Andrew's Blogs > Exegetical Surprise for Matthew 15

Exegetical Surprise for Matthew 15

I know I’m giving away my exegetical surprise for Sunday but this makes me smile when I see what God did through Jesus via Matthew’s witting genius to teach his disciples, and then later on, those who would read the Gospel of Matthew.  I’m telling the story of the Canaanite Woman in Matthew 15, but only when you zoom out and see the big picture do you see the full impact of the text and Matthew’s literary style.  I think you call this a chiasm.

Feeding of the 5000: Jewish context, Healing, Bread Miracle, 12 baskets left over.

Peter on the water: Jewish man, asks for a miracle, cries out “Lord, save me”, has little faith, worships.

Pharisees hand-washing hypocrisy

Canaanite Woman: Gentile woman, asks for a miracle,  cries out “Lord, help me”, has great faith, worships.

Feeding of the 4000: Gentile context, Healing, Bread Miracle, 7 baskets left over.

Here is how it all connects:  Jesus is teaching his disciples that the Kingdom is not for Israel only but will expand to reach the Gentiles as well.  Matthew makes this clear by showing that there is plenty of the Bread of Life for Jews (12 baskets left over) and plenty of the Bread of Life for the Gentiles (7 baskets left over).  The feeding of the 5000 is contrasted by the feeding of the 4000, Peter’s lack of faith is contrasted by the Gentile Canaanite woman’s great faith.  Smack dab in the middle is condemnation to the blind guides who are not plants of God.  These blind guides were all upset about being ceremonial clean as a way to God.  Immediately following is Jesus hanging out with an unclean woman – – a Canaanite!  Jesus and the woman have an intense dialogue about bread and crumbs for the benefit of the Disciples.  Bread is everywhere in these passages and even continues into the next two passages where the disciples are warned to not be like the elite Pharisees and Sadducees.

I believe that Matthew is writing to churches that are predominantly Jewish and are probably struggling with Jewish eliteness (like the Pharisees) in their outreach and fellowship.  Peter (Acts 10 & 11) had to deal with the Jerusalem church and explain why he hung out with Cornelius and his gang, and if Peter and the “circumcised believers” were working through it, then the rest of the church was most likely working through the issue as well.

I’ll apply this all on Sunday . . . hopefully.

How do you think this hits home in your life?  Are there people groups or indiviuals whom you choose to avoid?

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