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Matthew 15-16 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The Teaching of the Ancestors

15 About this time some Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses came from Jerusalem. They asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples obey what our ancestors taught us to do? They don’t even wash their hands[a] before they eat.”

Jesus answered:

Why do you disobey God and follow your own teaching? Didn’t God command you to respect your father and mother? Didn’t he tell you to put to death all who curse their parents? But you let people get by without helping their parents when they should. You let them say that what they have has been offered to God.[b] Is this any way to show respect to your parents? You ignore God’s commands in order to follow your own teaching. And you are nothing but show-offs! Isaiah the prophet was right when he wrote that God had said,

“All of you praise me
    with your words,
but you never really
    think about me.
It is useless for you
    to worship me,
when you teach rules
    made up by humans.”

What Really Makes People Unclean

10 Jesus called the crowd together and said, “Pay attention and try to understand what I mean. 11 The food that you put into your mouth doesn’t make you unclean and unfit to worship God. The bad words that come out of your mouth are what make you unclean.”

12 Then his disciples came over to him and asked, “Do you know that you insulted the Pharisees by what you said?”

13 Jesus answered, “Every plant that my Father in heaven did not plant will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Stay away from those Pharisees! They are like blind people leading other blind people, and all of them will fall into a ditch.”

15 Peter replied, “What did you mean when you talked about the things that make people unclean?”

16 Jesus then said:

Don’t any of you know what I am talking about by now? 17 Don’t you know that the food you put into your mouth goes into your stomach and then out of your body? 18 But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God. 19 Out of your heart come evil thoughts, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, vulgar deeds, stealing, telling lies, and insulting others. 20 These are what make you unclean. Eating without washing your hands will not make you unfit to worship God.

A Woman’s Faith

21 Jesus left and went to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. 22 Suddenly a Canaanite woman[c] from there came out shouting, “Lord and Son of David,[d] have pity on me! My daughter is full of demons.” 23 Jesus did not say a word. But the woman kept following along and shouting, so his disciples came up and asked him to send her away.

24 Jesus said, “I was sent only to the people of Israel! They are like a flock of lost sheep.”

25 The woman came closer. Then she knelt down and begged, “Please help me, Lord!”

26 Jesus replied, “It isn’t right to take food away from children and feed it to dogs.”[e]

27 “Lord, that’s true,” the woman said, “but even dogs get the crumbs that fall from their owner’s table.”

28 Jesus answered, “Dear woman, you really do have a lot of faith, and you will be given what you want.” At that moment her daughter was healed.

Jesus Heals Many People

29 From there, Jesus went along Lake Galilee. Then he climbed a hill and sat down. 30 Large crowds came and brought many people who were crippled or blind or lame or unable to talk. They placed them, and many others, in front of Jesus, and he healed them all. 31 Everyone was amazed at what they saw and heard. People who had never spoken could now speak. The lame were healed, the crippled could walk, and the blind were able to see. Everyone was praising the God of Israel.

Jesus Feeds Four Thousand

32 Jesus called his disciples together and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don’t have anything to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry. They might faint on their way home.”

33 His disciples said, “This place is like a desert. Where can we find enough food to feed such a crowd?”

34 Jesus asked them how much food they had. They replied, “Seven small loaves of bread[f] and a few little fish.”

35 After Jesus had told the people to sit down, 36 he took the seven loaves of bread and the fish and gave thanks. He then broke them and handed them to his disciples, who passed them around to the crowds.

37 Everyone ate all they wanted, and the leftovers filled seven large baskets.

38 There were four thousand men who ate, not counting the women and children.

39 After Jesus had sent the crowds away, he got into a boat and sailed across the lake. He came to shore near the town of Magadan.[g]

A Demand for a Sign from Heaven

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tried to test him by asking for a sign from heaven. He told them:

If the sky is red in the evening, you say the weather will be good. But if the sky is red and gloomy in the morning, you say it is going to rain. You can tell what the weather will be like by looking at the sky. But you don’t understand what is happening now.[h] You want a sign because you are evil and won’t believe! But the only sign you will be given is what happened to Jonah.[i]

Then Jesus left.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

The disciples had forgotten to bring any bread when they crossed the lake.[j] Jesus then warned them, “Watch out! Guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The disciples talked this over and said to each other, “He must be saying this because we didn’t bring along any bread.”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and said:

You surely don’t have much faith! Why are you talking about not having any bread? Don’t you understand? Have you forgotten about the five thousand people and all those baskets of leftovers from just five loaves of bread? 10 And what about the four thousand people and all those baskets of leftovers from only seven loaves of bread? 11 Don’t you know by now that I am not talking to you about bread? Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!

12 Finally, the disciples understood that Jesus wasn’t talking about the yeast used to make bread, but about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Who Is Jesus?

13 When Jesus and his disciples were near the town of Caesarea Philippi, he asked them, “What do people say about the Son of Man?”

14 The disciples answered, “Some people say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah[k] or Jeremiah or some other prophet.”

15 Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus told him:

Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! You didn’t discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven. 18 So I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth. But he will not allow anything that you don’t allow.

20 Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death

21 From then on, Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “I must go to Jerusalem. There the nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make me suffer terribly. I will be killed, but three days later I will rise to life.”

22 Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. He said, “God would never let this happen to you, Lord!”

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Satan, get away from me! You’re in my way because you think like everyone else and not like God.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 25 If you want to save your life,[l] you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. 26 What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?

27 The Son of Man will soon come in the glory of his Father and with his angels to reward all people for what they have done. 28 I promise you that some of those standing here will not die before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.

Footnotes:

  1. 15.2 wash their hands: The Jewish people had strict laws about washing their hands before eating, especially if they had been out in public.
  2. 15.5 has been offered to God: According to Jewish custom, when people said something was offered to God, it belonged to him and could not be used for anyone else, not even for their own parents.
  3. 15.22 Canaanite woman: This woman was not Jewish.
  4. 15.22 Son of David: See the note at 9.27.
  5. 15.26 feed it to dogs: The Jewish people sometimes referred to Gentiles as dogs.
  6. 15.34 small loaves of bread: See the note at 14.17.
  7. 15.39 Magadan: The location is unknown.
  8. 16.2,3 If the sky is red. . . what is happening now: The words of Jesus in verses 2 and 3 are not in some manuscripts.
  9. 16.4 what happened to Jonah: Jonah was in the stomach of a big fish for three days and nights (see 12.40).
  10. 16.5 crossed the lake: To the east side.
  11. 16.14 Elijah: Many of the Jewish people expected the prophet Elijah to come and prepare the way for the Messiah.
  12. 16.25 life: In verses 25 and 26 the same Greek word is translated “life,” “yourself,” and “soul.”

Matthew 15-16 New International Version (NIV)

That Which Defiles

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.[c]

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

The Demand for a Sign

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[e] A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[f] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[g] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[h] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[i] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[j] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 15:4 Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16
  2. Matthew 15:4 Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9
  3. Matthew 15:9 Isaiah 29:13
  4. Matthew 15:14 Some manuscripts blind guides of the blind
  5. Matthew 16:3 Some early manuscripts do not have When evening comes … of the times.
  6. Matthew 16:18 The Greek word for Peter means rock.
  7. Matthew 16:18 That is, the realm of the dead
  8. Matthew 16:19 Or will have been
  9. Matthew 16:19 Or will have been
  10. Matthew 16:25 The Greek word means either life or soul; also in verse 26.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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