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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.”

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