September 3, 2017: 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, putting our pride in our pocket is the hardest challenge we face. Submerging our ego and trusting in You with 100% of our hearts is a never-ending test. When we do so, we’re strong in Your love and at peace with the world and ourselves. But when we receive these blessings, almost immediately our pride resurfaces and tries to take credit for our well-being, thus eating away at our faith. Lord, today we ask You to strengthen our faith by cutting our pride down to size—smaller than the proverbial mustard seed. For only then will we be truly happy and eternally content. Amen


TEXT: Matthew 15: 21-28

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Ephesians 5: 22 is one of the most politically incorrect passages in the entire Bible. Here it is: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” When you hear that you knee-jerk. It sounds so sexist, so outmoded and very non-democratic. Many pastors today shy away from even raising this subject because they it will antagonize at least half their congregation. Of course, the folks who don’t like Ephesians 5:22 usually forget to read what comes directly before it in vs. 21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” So, both husbands and wives are expected by God to submit to each other voluntarily—all this out of love and allegiance to their Lord! Sounds pretty democratic to me!

But exactly what is “submission?” It is submerging your pride. It is lovingly thinking about and doing what’s best for your spouse first—before thinking: “What’s in it for me?” But, how is this possible considering the fact that our ego is part of our core being? How can you renounce your “me” and still trust another human enough not to use and abuse your care? Of course, the answer is: only through faith in Jesus Christ. For when we come to faith and we also renounce the way of pride thereby embracing God’s way—wherever it might lead. With those thoughts in mind, today let’s look closely at our text by pondering this truth:



At first blush this lesson breaks all Christian stereotypes. Here is a poor gentile woman whose daughter is demon-possessed. She’s heard about Christ. Perhaps she’s even seen a miracle or two. In any case, when she spies Him nearby she runs over to Him and pleads: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Now, we expect Jesus to immediately help her. That’s the stereotype we’ve all grown up with—Christ helps hurting people. But, it doesn’t occur. “Jesus did not answer her a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.'”

That’s quite a development! He ignores her, but she keeps asking, so much so that the embarrassed disciples lose their patience and want to get rid of her! And then, almost “piling on” Jesus says: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” What an ego-crushing answer. This woman is not a Jew. She comes from a pagan background. You’d think she would not get the point and walk away. But, no. “The woman came and knelt before Him. ‘Lord, help me!” she said.” It appears this woman has submerged her pride, doesn’t it? And the persistence of faith has taken hold of her. But to add insult to injury here comes another hopeless rebuff. “He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” If you were called a dog, or something worse, wouldn’t your anger flare? Wouldn’t you get on your high horse and complain? Wouldn’t your ego take over?

“Yes, Lord,’ she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.'” She doesn’t argue with Jesus or even disagree with Him! She freely admits that before Him she is no better than a dog. And by her persistence in honoring Christ by calling Him her “Lord” she also admits that she truly believes Him to be the Son of God and her Savior. “Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”


This a tale of tremendous faith. In it we see various characteristics of faith, too. One, she confesses Christ to be her Lord. That means He’s in charge, not her, and that’s perfectly fine with her. Moreover that Lordship is clearly expressed when she asks Him to expel a demon from her daughter. Only God has such power over demons. Two, she never doubts Him to do what is right. She may not understand why He’s so reticent and slow to respond. But, she truly believes He’ll do the right thing in the end, so no matter what her senses tell her she persists. And three, she willingly and totally submits to Christ, gladly throwing her pride aside out of love for both her daughter and her Savior. She’s even willing to be labeled as no better than an animal by God.

Let me ask you a question: How often has your pride surfaced here at God’s house? How often have you pushed your weight around to try to get your way on an issue? How often have you pursued a path of what’s best for me instead of what’s best for the whole body of Christ? How often have you disagreed with some clear statement of God in the Bible and thought nothing of it because “I know better and it really doesn’t apply to me!”? Pride and ego are antithetical to the Christian faith. And this woman proves it. But, she’s not the only one. The terrorist on the cross submerged his pride when he asked Jesus to remember Him when He entered paradise later that day. Nicodemus, the great teacher of Israel, submerged his pride when he went to Jesus at night and asked Him to instruct him in God’s ways because Nicodemus was so ignorant. St. Paul, no stranger to pride in his younger days as he rounded Christians up for prison or worse, submerged his pride when Christ appeared to him on that road to Damascus and said: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” None of these folks gave up their personalities. But all were made more complete and fulfilled by giving up their pride. That’s because love, God’s love in Christ, is the one thing that really fills that newly created void within!

Submission is not a dirty word for the believer. For it means getting rid of pride and gaining boundless love. That’s what God wants to happen in Christian marriage, in His Church, and in our everyday lives. This woman had come to understand that fact, and that is why she never gave up. Love moved her to continue pleading her cause. Love is also what moved Christ to never give up on us, either, when He willingly submitted to the cross to save our eternal souls. So, now you all know that “submission” is not a dirty word. It is synonymous with love. May God bless you just like this woman and never forget that fact until the day comes when you join her in heaven. Amen