What does Matthew 15:10 mean?
ESV: And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand:
NIV: Jesus called the crowd to him and said, 'Listen and understand.
NASB: After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, 'Hear and understand!
CSB: Summoning the crowd, he told them, "Listen and understand:
NLT: Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. 'Listen,' he said, 'and try to understand.
KJV: And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
Verse Commentary:
In the prior passage, Jesus concluded a harsh exchange with Pharisees who came from Jerusalem to challenge Him. Now He turns to address the larger crowd of people around Him. He seems to be preparing to answer the charge the Pharisees have made against His disciples in verse 2: Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't ritually wash their hands before they eat (Matthew 15:1–2). Christ's response to the religious leaders was to call out their hypocrisy, for adding to the commands of God, then treating those additions as if they were more important than God's own commands (Matthew 15:3–9).

Speaking to the crowd, Jesus begins with the words "hear and understand." The disciples will refer to what He says in the following verse as a parable (Matthew 15:11). That likely means they don't understand and assume Jesus is being purposefully obscure (Matthew 13:13). He's not: Jesus means for everyone to understand the meaning of this teaching.
Verse Context:
Matthew 15:10–20 describes Jesus' expanded answer to a challenge from the Pharisees. Their concern is not about washing hands for health, but to follow religious rituals. He says these Pharisees will be uprooted and that they are blind guides. When asked, Jesus tells the disciples it's not what goes into a person's mouth that defiles him; it's the words that come out that reveal the sin in his heart. The defilement is already there, including all kinds of sin. He tells them flatly that eating with unwashed hands does not spiritually defile anyone.
Chapter Summary:
Pharisees and scribes come from Jerusalem to challenge Jesus. They are offended that His disciples break the religious leaders' tradition about ritual handwashing before meals. Jesus turns that attack upside down, pointing out that His critics honor tradition above God's actual commands! He insists that nobody is defiled by what goes in the mouth—by the literal matter itself—but by the overflow of the spirit, such as the words that come out of the mouth. He and the disciples travel out of the country. Jesus casts a demon out of the daughter of a persistent Canaanite woman. They travel to the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus feeds thousands of people from a few loaves and fishes. These last two events set up the eventual spread of the gospel beyond the people of Israel.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 15 begins with a confrontation between some Pharisees and Jesus. They ask why His disciples break the traditional practice of ritual handwashing. Pointedly, Jesus asks why they allow the obvious intent of God's commandments to be broken through their traditions. Jesus and the disciples travel out of Israel, encountering a Canaanite woman. He praises her faith and casts a demon from her daughter. They travel to the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus heals more people and feeds thousands more from another few loaves and fishes. This sets up another confrontation with religious leaders, warnings about their teachings, and predictions of Jesus' death in the next chapter.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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