August 30, 2020: 13th Sunday of Pentecost

13th Sunday of Pentecost

August 30, 2020

Let us pray: Dear Savior, bestow on each of us the humble, persistent faith of the woman in our lesson.  Give us her fearlessness when it comes to asking for help—even against the attacks of Satan.  Shower us with Your grace and mercy at all times in every situation.  Amen


TEXT:  Matthew 15: 21-28

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

          “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God searches the heart.”  So says the Bible.  And it’s true, isn’t it?  Today our lesson shows us just how true.


          The Canaanites were ancient enemies of the Jews.  They were heathens in that they rejected the OT and its truths about Christ.  Here we have a Canaanite woman heard Christ was near and came out of meet Him.  She had a singular request: “My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.”  But before she says that, she addresses Him as: “Lord, Son of David.” Right there she showed that she had some knowledge of the OT and the promised Messiah.  For those are terms used to describe Him.  She also must have heard of the miracles and even some where He exorcised demons.—That’s why she asks for help. 

          What does this mean?  It means that she had been exposed to the Gospel.  It means that the Spirit was able to work on her heart through the Gospel and implant faith within.  For the miracles are Gospel.  They are living proof that Jesus came to fulfill all rightness with God.  The disciples seem to be oblivious to this, but not Christ, Who searches the heart.

          This woman loved her daughter, even amid demon-possession.  Her motherly love wouldn’t quit and wouldn’t take NO for an answer.  So, she goes to the One Person who could help.  This faith empowered her to step across ethnic lines and ask for a miracle.  Are you willing to do the same? Is prayer the first thing you do when some problem slams you?


          Christ did not answer her one word!  She was met with the “silent treatment.”  Also, the disciples were unhappy that she didn’t just leave but kept on asking for His help.  It was embarrassing.  “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

          Her prayer was one for help.  And although seemingly rebuffed, she keeps it up.  She is persistent.  Faith-based prayers always are.  Then, He seems to be even more aloof, saying in words she could hear: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  Obviously she’s not of Israel.  She was born to a heathen background.  Her “people” were enemies of Israel.  She knew all this, but still keeps trying.  Prayer never gives up.  So, she kneels before Him and begs: “Lord, help me!”  Would you have done this?  Have you done this? 

          “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  Did Jesus just call her a dog?  Dogs were not furry pets who were pampered and fawned on in those days.  Packs of wild dogs roamed the streets and were generally scorned.  This is a statement of derision—or so it seems.  On the surface it was meant to crush her.  But in reality, God’s reality, it is meant to test her and her faith.  And she passes with flying colors.  “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” 


          The  other night we had a friend over for supper.  The first time since covid began.  I made meatloaf, newly dug, roasted baby potatoes, fresh corn off-the-cob, and just picked that day broccoli.  It was delicious.  But I think that person would have been insulted had I dropped a few crumbs on the floor for them to eat!  However, this woman wasn’t insulted at all!  Her heart is humble, thankful, and she’ll accept even the smallest blessing from her Savior.

          We know that, as well, because of Jesus’ reply: “Woman, you have great faith!”  This from the Son of God Who reads hearts!  “Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” 

          Jesus exercised Godly power across the distance to her daughter and cast out that demon.  Why?  Because of  His grace, His forgiving love exhibited ultimately by His death for all on the cross and His subsequent resurrection from the tomb.  Christ commends her faith in this through His answer.  It shows us that vital truth that: “The prayer of a righteous person avails much.”  It also shows us that sometimes He delays or seemingly ignores our prayers to draw out our faith and uplift us even more. 

          How do you think this woman reacted for literally the rest of her life?  I think you know the answer.  She was thankful, grateful, told others, and her internal fears were replaced by fearlessness for the rest of her life.  Yes, even the crumb of faith, when centered on genuine rightness with God sustains life—even eternal life.  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

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