Text: Matthew 15: 21-28
Proposition: The love of a mother for her children will draw her to the feet of Jesus where her faith will be her greatest strength.
Introduction: This morning let’s look at a mother who went looking for Jesus only to be turned away by His disciples and at one point by Jesus Himself. It’s one of the most extraordinary encounters chronicled in the Bible, it is completely opposite of what we might expect, completely opposite of how Jesus related to all the others He helped. Though it looks like rejection, though it feels like ridicule, this encounter is all about a mother’s faith. Turn with me to Matthew 15:21-28.
I. Faith Is the Reason Why We Recognize Healing Opportunity.
Jesus and the disciples are 50 miles out of the way, they are over in the area of Tyre and Sidon up by the north coast, outside of the land of Israel. They never go there, the disciples must have been wondering what was up, perhaps a short rest by the sea before the next wave of demanding people, Jewish people, their people. Jesus would be relatively unknown in this area, the Canaanites weren’t looking for a Messiah, the Gentiles didn’t believe in prophecy or look to ancient texts as the source of their moral and spiritual code. Yet out here, in the middle of nowhere, a woman of Canaan hears of Jesus. Somehow, she has heard of who He is and what He has done and now she hears that He is right there in her area. She wouldn’t even have been looking if her daughter wasn’t so hurt, a young girl so demon possessed that it was killing her. It’s strange how sometimes the desperation of our situation awakens our faith and an awakened faith looks for opportunity where ever it can. I say it comes from faith because who looks for anything unless they have a hope of finding it, that’s faith and from faith comes the ability to recognize opportunity. For those without faith, opportunity can come and stand right in front of them and they can’t recognize it, especially the opportunity for healing. So the Canaanite woman by faith finds Jesus, follows after Him and then waiting for the right moment she cries out to Him.
II. Faith is the Reason Why We Risk Telling Others Our Troubles.
This lone woman calls out to a group of thirteen men, “Have mercy on me O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed.” Even today this is a risky thing, a woman calling out in public, asking for mercy from complete strangers, a group of men from another country. As awkward as you can feel that this is even in today’s culture, amplify that by 10, for women in the first century, especially a Canaanite woman to a group of Jewish men, then we begin to get the scope of the risk she took. See how she cried out, “Have mercy on me…”, ‘ME’. What it means is that the dilemma her daughter faced, she faced. The two are one, that’s the view from a mother’s heart and her faith was why she risked doing what she did. Faith will always invite us, prompt us, to take risks. This mother risked calling Jesus, ‘The Son of David’, it was using a very personal name for Jesus, one that was built on an understanding of Scripture. We don’t know if she knew all that this title meant but she knew that in some way it described the truth of who Jesus is. Perhaps if you were to hear a non-Christian whose child was deathly ill cry out, ‘Jesus, Risen Son of God, the Redeemer, have mercy on me!’, then we get a glimpse of the way faith pushed her to use the little truth she knew about Jesus and employ it in calling out to Him. Faith risks being personal, with others, with God.
III. Faith is the Reason Why We Don’t Give Up.
This Canaanite mother cries out to Jesus and He hears her, perhaps even looks right at her, and then… says nothing. It says, “He answered her not a word.” They continue to walk on and this mother, to use a rather common term, “She gets up in Jesus’ grill”. That is she makes a fuss, she continues to call out, she becomes annoying to the disciples. They come to Jesus and ask Him to send her away because she just won’t shut up. I can only imagine what Jesus does next. He stops, glances at the disciples and then looking this mother eye to eye, He says, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” First she is ignored then she is rejected because she is not of Israel. She is a lost sheep, just not a Jewish lost sheep. What does it take before you give up? Public rejection, racial slur, ridicule… there are an endless list of things that can make us want to throw in the towel. Here’s where we run into that ‘mother’ thing again, because mothers though they continually pray for patience seem to persevere, they don’t quit, not when it’s their kids that are at stake, not when it’s their family being hurt. Mother’s have this deep grit to persevere, to protect, to provide. Why do mothers have such a deep resolve, is it just the right thing to do, is it instinct, is it love? Is it possible that faith is where this deep resolve comes from because why would I persevere unless I believed it would make a difference. Faith, your faith in Jesus Christ, is the reserve from which you draw, when everything else that you’ve tried fails. It’s a faith that both surrenders to Jesus and secures itself, ties itself to His love.
IV.Faith is the Reason Why We Worship Jesus.
I’m not sure what this looked like but I can see her pushing past the disciples and in an instant falling down and being at the feet of Jesus, looking up into His face. It was a simple act of worship, nothing polished about it, just a blatant belief that Jesus could help her in ways that no one else could. He could overrule the spiritual power that governed that demon, He could rescue both her daughter and her. He could do what no man could do because He was more than just man, He is God. That’s why Matthew says, “she came and worshipped Him…”. Worship requires, even demands, faith. It’s like faith is the wood and worship is the fire, a holy fire. Worship it seems is not built around the good things that God has given me, for she has received nothing. Rather it is built around the good that is central to whom God is. She appeals in front of Jesus and all who are standing there, “Lord help me.” It’s just complete and utter dependence on Jesus. Perhaps that’s really what worship is all about, an utter dependence on Jesus. In a world of independence, the idea of utter dependence on Jesus is not of this world. To worship Jesus is not of this world and this mothers faith appeals for help not of this world and by this faith she worships.
V. Faith is the Reason Why We Can See a Banquet in the Bread Crumbs.
At the feet of Jesus she hears Him say, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Jesus speaks to her from the perspective of a mother, she herself would never take the food for her daughter and give it to the little house dog, no matter how nice a pet it was. The bread was for her daughter, therefore it was not good, it was negligent or even abusive to let the child go hungry in order to feed a pet. He speaks to her a simple truth that she would have to agree with. Yet locked up in the truth of that, was the unavoidable image of Jesus calling her a ‘little dog’. How easy it would have been to take offense, to say, ‘who do you think you are’, to call Him uncaring, offensive, abusive. Has God disappointed, refused you or even chastened you? Has Jesus ever corrected you in order to protect you? That’s really a picture of what is happening here isn’t it? Jesus chastens her, He corrects her request for help as being out of joint with what is good… “it’s not good to give the children’s bread to the little dogs.” Would you say that Jesus is in effect pushing her away? Certainly seems like it, yet we know the end of the story, we know this mothers faith enables her to see something most people would miss. She says, “Yes Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the master’s table.” What is it that she sees? She sees the banquet that is in the crumbs because they come from the Master’s table. The tiniest touch of the hand of Jesus, just a crumb, has within it the very bread of life. She also sees that the rebuke of Jesus is always just. Years later the writer of Hebrews said, “And have you forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, for whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives.” These are hard words to be sure, yet what they mean is that the Lord loves us to the point of causing pain in us. We do the same when we try to remove a sliver, set a broken bone or even take off a band-aid. We cause pain that has the ultimate purpose of restoration and healing, of correction that creates capability. What if your disappointment with God is a reaction to that very kind of pain He causes? What if we too begin to see the banquet of grace in crumbs of disappointment? This mother’s faith felt the disappointment but saw the Savior and saw His heart respond to her heart. “O woman great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” You also persevere because there is the presence of Jesus Christ by you, the truth of Jesus Christ in you, the hope of Jesus Christ for you. It is a Mother’s Day gift for you.