Faith that Delights the Lord

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Matthew 15:21-28
Full Text: Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

Healing | As we read on Friday, when Jesus came to announce the Year of Jubilee, he went throughout the region of Galilee, proclaiming the kingdom and healing “every disease and sickness” [1]. In Gennesaret, for example, those who merely touched “the fringe of his garment” were healed [2]. In the region of Tyre and Sidon, however, a Gentile woman begged him, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon”, and he ignored her [3]. He did not say a word.

Faith | Then he referred to his Jewish, not Gentile, mission: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” [4]. When she persisted, “Lord, help me” [5], he compared her to a dog: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” [6]. Gentiles expected such responses from Jews, who considered Gentiles to be “unclean” [7], but this was a surprising response from Jesus, who earlier had praised the Gentile centurion’s faith [8]. But she remained undaunted. She consented to the comparison and said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” [9], and Jesus was delighted, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” [10]. Her daughter was healed instantly.

Delight | Why was her faith great? First, it was based on so few privileges. She was raised in a pagan culture that had no heritage of God’s Word or blessing and no access to the Temple with its priesthood and sacrifices. Yet she believed. Second, it was humble. “Had she been a proud woman,” said Spurgeon, “she would have stood upon her dignity when she was called a dog; but humility came to her help, and she did not resent even the harsh word the Lord used” [11]. Finally, it was persistent. She had come to her last word and then Jesus gave her his best word. As Spurgeon said, “Our extremity is his opportunity” [12].

Prayer | Lord, We come before you today as this Gentile woman did two thousand years ago – with empty hands that are desperate for your help. When we are at our extremity, help our faith endure with humility and persistence. For we know that you long to bless those who seek you. As you have promised, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” [13]. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 9:35 NIV1984  |  [2] See Matthew 14:34-36. See also 9:20-22.  |  [3] Matthew 15:22 ESV  |  [4] 15:24; See also Matthew 10:5-6.  |  [5] Matthew 15:26 ESV  |  [6] Matthew 15:26 ESV  |  [7] Hence the reason this story follows Matthew’s account of Jesus’ “clean and unclean” discussion with the Pharisees. See Matthew 15:1-20.  |  [8] See Matthew 8:5-13.  |  [9] Matthew 15:27 ESV  |  [10] Matthew 15:28 ESV  | [11] Charles Spurgeon, The Perseverance of Faith. 30 October 1890. Since 843 Acres is limited to 400 words or less, I was not able to elaborate on some parts of this account with the Canaanite woman. I highly recommend this sermon for those of you longing for strength to persist in prayer and to seek God.  |  [12] Id.  |  [13] Jeremiah 29:13 NIV1984

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