Matthew 15

2 Washing hands before eating is not prescribed in the Law of Moses, but was established by one of the Jewish ancestors that came after Moses. Traditions were very important to the Jews. They considered their ancestors greater than the following generations. If the head of a household declared a rule that was to be observed by all his descendents, they family was obligated to observe it. An example of this is found in Jer 35:1-19.

Traditions can be good, as is emphasized in Jer 35:19. However, even a good tradition can be bad if observation of it interferes with obedience to one of God's commands. Here, the legalistic Jews imply that a godly man would not eat without washing his hands first. To them, washing of the hands was a more important benchmark of godliness than faith. The Jews are also insinuating that Jesus can not be a credible teacher if He allows His disciples to violate the traditions of the elders.

3 Jesus gives a stinging reply. The leaders demanded that everyone rigorously obey the traditions while they neglected the commands of God. Some of their traditions directly violated God's commands.
4 The Ten Commandments contain this law with a positive promise (Exo 20:12). The command with the punishment is given in Exo 21:15. God considers respect for one's parents to be very important. The family is a small picture of our relationship with God. We are God's children and He is our Father. Thus, we are to be obedient to Him as we are expected to be obedient to our physical fathers.
5 God's command implies that the children should take care of their aging parents. Ideally, the parents would have saved up enough money for this, but often this did not happen. The children were then obligated to care for them and provide for their needs. The Jewish lawmakers had developed an interesting ruse to keep this money for themselves. They would simply declare that the money was devoted to God and could not be used to help their parents. Either they said this in pretense of observing one of the laws for tithes and offerings, or they felt that being in God's service meant that everything they did could be considered as the work of God. They would then do as they pleased with the money.
6 The tradition of donating money to your own "godly" work was in direct violation of the command of God to honor your parents.
7 Not only were some of the traditions hypocritical, it was also hypocritical to focus on rules that had no spiritual importance to the neglect of the commands that God uses to measure men by.
8 Traditions can look godly, and the strict adherence to them can make one feel or look holy. However, if the observer's heart is not following God, then obedience to the rules has not benefit. Perhaps the Jews would have seen their folly if they considered that an ungodly Gentile could wash his hands before every meal. Although he would be observing this "important" rule, the Jews would have readily admitted that obedience to the rule was not an indication of godly character in the heart. Ironically, the Jews were playing this exact role.
9 "Worshiping" God by obeying rules without faith and devotion to God is both futile and worthless. The Jews were not even obeying the commands of God. They were obeying the rules of men and had elevated their observance as if the rules were actually commands from God.
21 Jesus headed towards the Mediterranean Sea and into and area predominated by Gentiles.
22 The Canaanites and the Jews were bitter enemies. Even so, this woman had heard about Jesus and realized that He was the only for her daughter. She appeals to Him as the son of David, recognizing Him as both King and Messiah.
23 Why was Jesus silent? An initial thought might be prejudice, but we know that God is not bound by racial or gender boundaries. A better explanation is twofold. First would be to test the woman's faith and perseverance. Second would be to teach the disciples a lesson in compassion and cross-cultural ministry.
24 Israel was God's chosen people. God chose to reveal Himself to them both in word and incarnation. This does not mean that God would not work with Gentiles, but it does mean that God's most important works were to be revealed through Israel. Israel had strayed from God's purpose, and Jesus' work was focused on bringing them back. Once faith was established among the Jews, then it would spread outward (Acts 1:8).
25 This did not deter the woman. Instead, the woman demonstrated that she recognizes Jesus as God by worshiping Him. Certainly, God would help anyone who continued to ask in faith.
26 Jesus responds again with a discouraging and even insulting statement. He likens Israel to children while the Gentiles are labeled as dogs. Certainly, anyone would agree with the rational suggested by the illustration.
27 However, the woman persisted in faith. She was not offended at being likened to a dog. Undoubtedly, she recognized her own sinful condition as she came before God. Instead of being discouraged, she submits to the label that was given her and reasons that God would have compassion on her, even if she was undeserving.
28 Jesus commended the woman for her faith. Despite the delay, silence, and discouragement the woman persisted because she knew she had no other hope but Jesus. Jesus rewards her by granting her request.
29 Jesus apparently went out of His way for the opportunity to meet with that woman of faith. He then returned to Israel and continued to teach there.
30 Jesus' fame as a healer had spread, and people were willing to help their sick and crippled friends and family members in the wilderness or up mountains to see Him. Jesus had compassion on the people and rewarded their faith by healing those who were brought to Him.
31 The people were amazed despite their faith. Never before had such a man been seen with the authority to heal and teach the way He did. Everything Jesus did and said was designed to point people to God.