September 6-8, 2014
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 15:21-28
“FAITH THAT DELIGHTS!”
(Or “THE JOY OF BEING GOD’S DOG!”)
Matthew 15:21-28 (NIV 1984) “Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." 24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." 25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. 26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." 27 "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." 28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
Her day began much like every other day, at least since the time the demon had entered her daughter. She was tired. It’s hard to sleep well when you’re always scared about what’s going to happen next. Her heart ached at what her daughter was going through. The demon would make her daughter hurt herself. She would act like an animal. Try to hold her down? Impossible when the demon was at work. Then her daughter had superhuman strength. The filthy things her sweet girl would say. What was going on these days? The older women of the village said it wasn’t always like this. A case of demon possession used to be rare if it even really happened at all. Now it seemed like every village had a case. It was as if the gates of Hell had opened and poured forth its hordes on the land and was going to war against something or someone. Something was different about these times. Some of her Jewish friends said it was because the Messiah had come.
Messiah! Oh how nice that would be. Thanks to her loving Jewish neighbors she had come to believe in the LORD, the God who saves. Oh He was so much better than the idols her parents had told her to worship. Mean ugly looking things carved by the craftsmen in town. You always had to do something for them in the hopes they’d give you good crops and live births. Some in town had whispered that her daughter’s demon possession was because she had forsaken the Baals. But what she had heard about Messiah was different and pulled at her heart. He loved and cared about His people. When He came He would make things right, they said. Could it really be true that the Messiah was here? There had been others who claimed to be Messiah but they were fakes. They just wanted to fight the Romans. The one they called Jesus was different. He talked about forgiveness of sins and acceptance by God. He said God was filled with mercy and loved His people. He had done miracles too. It’s true! He healed the paralyzed and blind. People were still talking about the food He had provided. Some said it was a trick but everyone there said for sure that he had just 5 loaves and bread and two small fish and there was enough for everyone with leftovers too. And demons. They said He had power over the demons. He told them to leave and they left. Would He heal her daughter? Some of the Jews in town had made it quite clear that when Messiah came He would only be for the Jews and no one else. But she had to try. What’s a mama to do when her child is hurting?
One day the news came, excitement hit her town. Jesus was coming. He had crossed the Sea of Galilee and landed on the western shore. Word was the people there had brought their sick and Jesus had healed them all. Then some of the Jewish religious leaders had questioned Him and he was leaving that area and heading her way. This was her chance. No, her daughter’s chance. She had to try. There He was! "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." Surely He would help! But the only answer was silence. Jesus didn’t say anything. Well, if at first you don’t succeed… So she called again and again. The men following Jesus weren’t very nice. You know what they said to Jesus? "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." How would they feel if their daughter was suffering, foaming at the mouth, spouting filth, throwing herself off buildings and into fires. Jesus did answer them but not what she wanted to hear. "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." Still she had to try. "Lord, help me!" This time He did respond. "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Now that didn’t sound very nice but it gave her just the opening she was looking for. "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” And then Jesus’s face lit up and he said, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
Brothers and sisters, John told us at the end of His Gospel, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Not all miracles were recorded, not all healings of demon possession. So why this one? Yes, it shows us Jesus’ complete power over Satan and every evil. Yes, it shows us that Jesus is for every race, not just the Jews like the other readings also showed. What stands out here is this woman’s faith. While Jesus often had to address His disciples as ones of little faith, there are only two people that Jesus praised for great faith and this woman is one of them. This is written so we too will believe in Jesus and have great faith. You know, all she did was take Jesus at His word. Normally you call a woman a dog and she’s not going to take it so well but this woman gladly claimed dogship because it meant being Jesus’ dog. It is a commonly accepted practice that what falls from the table on to the floor is the domain of the dogs, even if it’s just crumbs. But when it’s a crumb from God great things happen. So this woman took Jesus at His word that she was a dog and she claimed what belonged to the dogs. She took Jesus at His word. That’s the kind of faith that delights our Lord and brings a smile to His face.
And you and I can do this too. We can bring a smile to Jesus’ face when we take Him at His word. When you take your needs to Jesus remember Whom you are talking to. He is the Messiah, the Son of God. He does have all power. And He is filled with mercy. You can go to Him with your problems too and take Him at His word. No, this doesn’t mean you can tell Jesus what to do and He has to do it if you believe enough. He is not your dog to tell what to do. But we can be His dogs and get the powerful crumbs that fall from His table. Read those Gospels and find the words of Jesus that you can hold on to. Like “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” I know we have some weary and burdened people. Some of us are weary of dealing with a family problem or marriage issues. Some are weary with the burden of debt and not enough money issues. Some of us are struggling with sins that are kind of addictive and the good we want to do we don’t do. Some of us are tired of the guilt hiding in our hearts. Some of us are weary and burdened because in His wisdom God has allowed us to battle cancer or care for an aged parent. Go to Jesus. Cling to Him. He has not promised to end every sin struggle or heal every disease or make every problem disappear. But what did He promise? Rest. We are God’s dogs so we get that. He has to give us rest because He said so and He loves it, it delights Him, when we hold Him to that. There are so many more. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” Jesus said to those worried about the needs of today, “and all these things will be added to you as well.” “This is my blood for the forgiveness of sins.” We can hold Him to that. When we or our loved ones are staring death in the face, we can remember the words of Jesus, “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.” That’s even better than a crumb from our Master’s table. And we can hold Him to that. And that kind of faith is delightful to our Lord. Oh the joy of being one of God’s dogs. Amen.