This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.
Jesus is coming against Satan’s work in this chapter, all the way through. First, He calls out the Pharisees and scribes on their religion of tradition and legalism. They have a religious spirit (see comments below). Then, He frees a young girl who is not even present with Him but is afflicted by a demons. Then, He heals a man who is deaf and unable to speak.
He does not do these wonderful works in Jerusalem, but in non-Jewish cities. The mother of the child with the demon is not Jewish. The man who is deaf and mute lives in a non-Jewish region and is likely not Jewish.
Verses 1-5 — Before He does these miraculous things, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and scribes. Their tradition says you have to wash your hands not just with water and soap, but also do a ritualistic washing with special water. They do the same with pots and cups and pitchers. You’re not pure, or the object is not pure, unless you do both.
Think of it — they are confronting Jesus, who is performing all kinds of miracles that can only be done by God, about a bunch of rituals. They have a religious spirit which is demonic in nature. In John 8:44, He flat-out tells them that the devil is their father. They are truly blind guides of the blind (Matthew 15:14), because they don’t recognize their Messiah, their Christ, even with the evidence all His “God works!”
So they come right out and ask Him. They accuse His disciples of eating with impure hands.
Verses 6-13 — His answer? He says the prophet Isaiah was right! They are hypocrites, telling people to follow tradition, while they dishonor God the Son who stands before them. They go through the motions of honoring God with their religious observances and rules. They say honorable things about God.
But their hearts are far from God, or they would recognize Jesus as God the Son. So their worship of God is outward only — their hearts aren’t in it. They are not worshiping God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
The highest commandment of God is to love Him. They neglect this highest command by not loving God the Son.
And they teach their rules and regulations as if they came from God, holding to those traditions, but they do not love God.
They go so far as to say, “Sorry, Mother and Father. I can’t help you financially. All of my money is dedicated to God.” By doing so, they dishonor their mothers and fathers. And they teach others to do the same. They make the Word of God null and void by overriding it with their man-made rules and regulations. And they do many things like that, Jesus tells them.
Their hearts are far from God.
Important point: Christianity is a religion of the heart, not i-dotting and t-crossing.
Verse 14-16 Jesus then calls the crowd to Himself. He will teach them. Listen and understand. When Jesus speaks, you can’t just hear it; you have to understand it, comprehend it, and become wise from what He says.
If you ask Him, He will help you understand it. How do I know that?
When I was on my journey to being healed by Jesus of MS, I asked the Lord to make His Word real in my heart, and He did. Later, when I was filled with His Holy Spirit, the whole Word of God became understandable, and I began to connect the dots (like that old childhood puzzle) until my view became much clearer and wider. It’s an ongoing process, even now.
None of these outward rules and regulations matter to God. What you wear, ritualistic washing, or food does not make you pure or impure. God looks at your heart. Impurity resides in the heart. Your heart is either pure or impure. If it is pure, purity will come out of you. If it is impure, impurity will come out of you, and you will be completely impure because of the contents of your heart.
Important point: Again, Christianity has to do with the heart, not outward rules and regulations. God’s purpose and goal and will is that your heart be purified by the Heart-Changer, when He fills you with His Holy Spirit. Then you obey Him from a heart that is filled with His love, and people notice that you have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). His Holy Spirit’s fingerprints are all over your heart. It is visible to everyone. Then you are Jesus Christ’s witness where you live and everywhere you go.
So if anyone has ears to hear and heed, let him hear.
Verses 16-23 — Jesus’ disciples aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit yet, so they don’t understand. He marvels at their inability to comprehend such a basic truth. So He teaches them privately. What issues forth from the heart either makes someone impure or pure. Christianity is a heart religion. God wants your heart — all of it — so He can make it pure and take out everything that isn’t like Jesus.
If you eat something, it is digested and excreted. So food neither makes you pure or impure, because digestion has nothing to do with your heart. Jesus comes against the Jewish laws about food, because they have turned those laws into a measuring stick for how good you are.
It is out of the heart that evil proceeds: evil thoughts, the desire to have sex before marriage, thefts, murders, adulteries, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. That’s what makes a person impure, and they will remain that way until they ask the Heart-Changer to remove all of that.
Verses 24-26 — Jesus travels to Tyre. But He can’t escape notice. News traveled quickly, even with no Internet, Facebook or CNN. The Healer and Deliverer is here! What good news! And if you are His disciple, He will use you even now to heal and deliver.
Syrophoenicians are especially hated by Jews (but not hated by Jesus), because they are non-Jewish and have been, through the centuries, the enemies of Israel.
How brave, how desperate this woman is, then! An enemy of Israel, a Gentile dog, comes and falls at His feet. That’s proskuneo — she worships Him. Unlike the blind Pharisees and scribes, she clearly understands that she is coming before God the Son.
She refuses to go away. She asks him to cast a demon out of her daughter, who is not even on the scene. That’s desperation. Are you desperate? God loves people who come to Him with desperate hearts, people who are willing to crouch low before Him, honoring Him and agreeing with Him that He is God and they are not.
Verses 27-30 — Now she will have to go toe-to-toe with Jesus. He tells her He was sent to Israel — God’s original children — first. So they are God’s children. Will the woman rob them of their food from Him?
She persists. Her faith is amazing. She knows that if He says so, her daughter will be set free from the demon. So she says, “Give me a crumb. All I need is a crumb.”
She answered well. All she needs is a crumb. Jesus says it’s done. And she believes Him and goes home and finds her daughter delivered, long-distance.
All you need is a crumb from His table. I’m living and well today because I persisted in asking for a crumb.
And distance means nothing in the spiritual realm. Jesus, and those who are filled with His Spirit, are able to heal from afar. Glory to God!
Verses 31-37 — Traveling from there, Jesus goes back to the Decapolis, where He sent the man delivered of 2,000 demons in Chapter 5. When the people hear He has arrived, they bring the deaf and mute man to Him and plead with Jesus to lay His hand on him to heal him.
Jesus doesn’t always heal by the same method. Sometimes He says, “Get up!” Sometimes He touches. Sometimes He makes mud and puts it in the eye sockets of someone who was born without eyes (see John 9). Sometimes someone touches His clothing and healing power flows from Him to heal them.
This time, He takes the man away from the crowd, away from all distractions — not for Jesus’ sake, but for the man’s. Jesus worked in crowds all the time.
Jesus puts His fingers in the mans’ ears. Then He spits on His hands and puts His spit-covered finger on the man’s tongue. Then He looks to heaven, sighs deeply, and commands, “Be opened!”
And the man instantly hears and speaks. Word gets around, even though Jesus told everyone not to speak of what He had done.
What made the crowd superabundantly, exceedingly astonished beyond measure? A demon caused the man to be deaf and mute. When Jewish exorcists drove out a demon from a person, the demon had to first say its name. This demon made this man mute, so the demon couldn’t speak the demon’s name through the man’s mouth. The demon did that on purpose, knowing that Jewish exorcists would therefore not be able to deliver the man. But that didn’t make any difference to Jesus; He was able to cast out demons regardless of whether they could say their names, or had made their victims mute. The man’s ears and mouth HAD to be opened when He spoke, “Be opened!.” The crowd had never seen anyone who could cast out a demon without having it speak its name through the mouth of its victim.
Important point: When He speaks, it must be done. No demon can disobey His command. No sickness is too great. No heart is too dark that the Heart-Changer can’t change it, instantly. Do you believe Him?