This morning on my commute into work, I was extremely blessed by a sermon on the following text:
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28 ESV)
I’ve included the text of the message, but you can listen to it here.
She was desperate. She had no one to turn to. Her daughter was deeply oppressed by some sort of demon. No description of the symptoms, but the woman is at the end of her hope. Jesus is all she has left. She heard He was coming into her region, the district of Tyre and Sidon, the far north coast county named after the great grandson of Noah. Canaanite territory. The Canaanites were the inhabitants of the land before the Israelites came. They were the people the Israelites were to supposed to have driven from the land but didn’t. Needless to say, Israelites didn’t have much to do with Canaanites. The rabbis even called them “dogs,” which was about as low as it got. Filthy, garbage picking scavengers. A respectable Israelite wouldn’t even talk to a Canaanite if one came up to them on the street.
This Canaanite woman comes up to Jesus. Strike one. Canaanites don’t come up to Israelites unless a fight is about to break out. She’s a woman. Strike two. Women don’t approach men much less rabbis. She cries out to Him. Strike three. Women are not to address men in public. But Jesus is her last resort. She knows who she is; she knows who Jesus is. She’s a Canaanite; He’s an Israelite. So she does her best Israelite imitation: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.”
“Son of David” is Israelite talk; messiah talk. “Son of David” is what the Israelites were looking for in a messiah. Perhaps Jesus wouldn’t notice who she was. Perhaps He wouldn’t care. Perhaps He’d be sympathetic and compassionate. “My daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
What would you have expected Jesus to do? Most of us would have expected Jesus to heal that woman’s daughter. He’d done that for others, including non-Israelites. But Jesus didn’t say a word to her. Didn’t even acknowledge her presence. Turned a hard, stony gaze away from her. And so she turned to his band of disciples. Maybe they had some influence. You know, if you can’t get to Jesus Continue reading