The Jews of Jesus’ day were greatly influenced by scribal traditions including an elaborate system of cleansing rituals that were not in the Bible. Some who came in contact with the Lord’s disciples were offended that the friends of Jesus did not keep customary rules.
When Jesus was questioned about these supposed faults, He cited Isaiah 29:13. The religious leaders were preferring the “tradition of men” to the “commandment of God.”
In contrast to those who thought of themselves as free from defilement, Jesus was approached by a desperate Gentile woman who “fell down at His feet.” Her daughter “had an unclean spirit” and needed the help that only the Redeemer could bring.
At first the Messiah refused her entreaties noting that she was outside of Israel. Instead of being offended the woman renewed her plea. She was willing to give up all outward dignity in order to receive mercy from the Savior. Even a “crumb” from the table of true Israel would be enough for her daughter to be released from oppression. Jesus’ reaction? “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”
Jesus was able to open up the ears of the deaf and to bring forth clear speech from lips that had been mute. Christ was the ruler over a new world, but many who had positions of spiritual authority in Israel could not hear the truth of His words or speak forth the praise that He richly deserved.
In the decades that would follow, the church would be increasingly comprised of those who had once been outcasts to the covenant of grace. They would believe the Word of the Lord and would sing songs of joy to the One who died for their transgressions and rose for their justification.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great Lawgiver of Israel, Your people have twisted together their own traditions and Your perfect Law, treating the mixture as somehow divine. Forgive us, for we would reject Your commandments and establish our own customs as the pathway of righteousness. Help us to see our real duty and the corruption of our wicked hearts. From within the souls of men come evil thoughts, words, and actions. Through these habits of sin we have been utterly defiled. Cleanse us, O God! Have mercy also on our sons and daughters. Grant us a crumb from Your table, and deliver us from the doctrines and moral directives of demons. Give to us holy speech, and open our mouths in praise to You. You do all things well.