Matthew 15:1, 2
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
Though the address of these visitors is put in the form of a question, it is not really an inquiry, it is a reproach. Therefore it was properly met, not by an explanation, but by another question, which brought to others' view, if not to their own, their bad mind and intent. These Pharisees could see clearly enough what they thought was a "mote" in the eye of Jesus. They must be made to feel the "beam" that was in their own eye. Who were these men, and what right had they to reproach Jesus? The Sanhedrin at Jerusalem regarded itself as the supreme ecclesiastical authority in the land, whose approval every teacher should secure, and whose inquiries every would be teacher must look for. Both John Baptist and Jesus acted in perfect independence of this central authority. Both were subject to its official inquiries. Of John we are told (John 1:19), "The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?" John answered their inquiries in a very patient fashion. Jesus was sterner in his dealings with them, and denied their right, or their fitness, to make any such inquiries, which were but veiled reproaches.
I. AUTHORITY MAY GIVE A RIGHT TO REPROACH. The natural authority of the parent; and the social authority of the master and the king. But the authority must be rightly grounded. It must not rest on mere self-assertion, and it must be duly recognized and accepted. What authority could such a council as the Sanhedrin have over one who was a Prophet, a heaven sent Messenger? By all Israelite principles, he had the authority, and they should have heeded him.
II. SUPERIORITY MAY GIVE A RIGHT TO REPROACH. Superior knowledge; superior character. The competent man may reproach us, the saintly man may reproach us. Then had these visitors from Jerusalem either of these forms of right to reproach? Were they superiors of Christ in the knowledge of Divine things? Were they superiors of Christ in holy living? This at least may at once be tested. If they were really holy they would be jealous of God's honour and God's claims. That they were only sham holy, our Lord made clear enough by his searching question to them. They cared for forms and ceremonies, they cared little or nothing for truth, or righteousness, or charity. They would reproach another; they should have reproached themselves.
III. LOVE MAY GIVE A RIGHT TO REPROACH. No man rightly reproaches unless he loves. No man well receives reproach save from those whom he is sure are full of love to him. The vital wrong in the reproach of the text is this - there is no love in it. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,