Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Matthew 15:21-31 “great is your faith”


21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed."

23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us."

24 But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."

27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

29 Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there.

30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them.

31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

The Lord Jesus the Messiah of Israel, has passed beyond the borders of Israel, driven off by the hostility of the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem, those who should have been His subjects. The delegates of the priestly party from Jerusalem, who had come down to push control over Jesus and His movement had made it necessary for the Lord Jesus Christ to withdraw. He goes northward, towards the territory of Tyre and Sidon. The incident of the Syro-Phoenician woman becomes more striking –it was the area of the Gentile’s towards the coast on the Mediterranean Sea. Then, skirting Eastwards, the Lord circuits right around to the eastern side of the sea of Galilee, where in verses 29-31 He performs many miracles. You can see the contrast between the single cure of the woman’s demoniac daughter, obtained after so long imploring, and the spontaneous abundance of the cures wrought when Jesus again dealt with Jews on the eastern shore of the lake. This contrast is a demonstration of the parable the Lord told in verses 26,27 of the crumbs that fell from the table and the plentiful feast that was spread upon it for the children.

Did you notice the repeated phrase “But He answered”? “And answering He said..”

This phrase divides the section of scripture onto four pieces.

These messages and miracles that Matthew collects here follow the same theme, the theme of faith.

Last Sunday we saw the contrast between Peter’s faith and Peter’s doubts. Faith is the Assent of the mind and the consent of the heart and the affiance or trust of the person upon the Saviour. This morning we read of a woman who is told she has “great faith” And we get the opportunity to see how her great faith works itself out. She desires to trust her situation to the Lord Jesus. But there is a refusal here. Ands we see how her faith continues to persevere. Would you receive the Lord’s commendation?

1. Faith’s Duress…

a. The Silence Of The Saviour To This Sufferer.

This Sufferer was a Canaanite and therefore a descendant of Israel’s enemies, she has learned to call Him the Son of David, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!” She owns His kingship. She owns His Lordship. She owns that He is the Davidic Messiah. She owns what His own people, the Israelites disowned. She beseeches for that which He delights to give, identifying herself with her poor child’s suffering, and asking as for herself His mercy. As Chrysostom says: ‘It was a sight to stir pity to behold a woman calling aloud in such distress, and that woman a mother, and pleading for a daughter, and that daughter in such evil plight.’

A Christ silent to a sufferer’s cry is a paradox which contradicts the whole gospel story, and which, we may be very sure, no evangelist would have painted, if he had not been painting from

b. The Sermon of the Saviourhood To the Students

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us."

The disciples evidently meant, ‘ Lord grant her request’. The disciples seem, then, more merciful than the Lord Jesus is. But they were thinking more of themselves than they were of her.”, “for she cries out after us." “Lord we need a break. Please get rid of her quick. Do what she wants so we can have some piece. You know how irritating it is to have her squawking all day!”

Then the Lord explains the paradox of His silence. It puts emphasis on two things: His subordination to the divine will of the Father, and the restrictions imposed thereby on the scope of His beneficent working. He was obeying the divine will in confining His ministry to the Jewish people.

There must be this geographical and national limit to His life. To the Jews first. The Messiah who comes last as the fulfilment in the long series of the kings and prophets, can only be authenticated as the world’s Messiah, by first appearing to the Jews as the fulfiller of the promises made to the fathers.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

Acts 28:26 He said, Go to this people and say: ‘You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive. 27 For this people’s heart has grown callous, their  ears  are  hard  of  hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted—and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this saving work of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen!”

He knew that there was an order of development in the kingdom, and that at the stageof His appearing to Israel this was the surest way to attain the ultimate universality of the gospel going to all nations. This conviction locked His gracious lips against even this poor woman’s piteous cry. How grateful we should be that the gospel is not for the Jews only, but also for us Gentiles as well.

Ephesians 2: 11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” done by hand in the flesh. 12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.

Did He intend to help her? I think so. But only after He had made clear the historical role He was playing in bringing the gospel first to the Jews.

Romans 3: 1 So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2  Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the spoken words of God.

Romans 9 continues Paul’s argument 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The forefathers are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, blessed forever.  Amen.

The most important thing was not the healing of the child, funny enough, but the declaration of His Messiahship as the Saviour of the Jews, and then of the World. This was the important thing. The mazing thing for you and I is that we must remember to always focus on what is absolutely important. 1 Cor 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

2. Faith’s Determination…

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

a. The Persistence Of The Petitioner To The Prince.

Now she falls at His feet, and with ‘ beautiful shamelessness,’ as Chrysostom calls it, repeats her prayer, but this time with pathetic brevity, uttering but the one cry, ‘Lord, help me!’ The intenser the feeling, the fewer the words. Just before falling into unconciousness once as a consequence of my foot injury a few years ago, I remember as I passed out I reached out a hand a uttered the only two words I could find “Help me!” There was nothing else that could be said. There was nothing else that mattered. So here the woman now cries urgently, “Lord help me!” Heart-prayers are short prayers. She doesn’t invoke Him as the Son of David, (all that did was reinforce the issue that she wasn’t Jewish and not among the covenant people) nor does she tell her sorrow over again, but she flings herself in desperation on His pity, with the cry, wrung from her agony, as she sees the hope of help fading away. “Lord help me!”

That is one cry the Lord will not turn away from.

Luke 18: 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 10 “Two men went up to the • temple complex to pray, one a • Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

It was the same cry of Peter Matt 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."

The ‘bread’ is the blessing which He, as the sent of God, brings; the ‘children’ are the ‘ lost sheep of the house of Israel’; the ‘dogs’ are the Gentile world.

To her now He announces that the Jews were to be favoured with the blessings of the many miracles, and not the Gentiles. He wasn’t extending at that time the blessing of His Announced Messiahship to the Gentiles. First the Jews. The Lord Jesus uses a diminutive for ‘dogs,’ which shows that He is not thinking of the fierce, unclean animals, wild, starving dogs, but He is speaking of domestic pets, who live with the household, and are near the table. And undoubtedly the Lord uses this illustration to provoke her faith, to provoke her petitions, to get her to ask again:

27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

b. The Persistence Of The Petitioner To The Prince of Peace.

Out of His very words she weaves a plea. ‘Yes, Lord; I am one of the dogs; then I am not an alien, but belong to the household.’ As Luther says, ‘she catches Him in His own words.’ She does not ask a place at the table, nor anything taken from those who have a prior claim to a more abundant share in His mercies. A crumb is enough for her, which they will never miss. She acquiesces in the divine appointment which limits His mission to Israel; but she recognises that all nations belong to God’s household, and that she and her countrymen have a real, though for the time inferior, position in it. There may be a reference to the fact of His being there on Gentile soil, in her words, ‘Which fall from the children’s table.’ She does not want the bread to be thrown from the table to her. She is not asking Him to transfer His ministry to Gentiles; but here He is. A crumb has fallen, in His brief visit. May she not eat of that? In this answer faith, humility, perseverance, swift perception of His meaning, and hallowed ingenuity and boldness, are equally admirable.


John 6:60  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Even a DOG KNOWS THAT THE WORST THAT JESUS GIVES, IS STILL FAR BETTER THAN THE BEST YOU COULD EVER GET ON YOUR OWN One day, the crumbs of the gospel did indeed fall from the table of the Jews, and it fed poor, vile, sinful Gentile dogs with the Bread of Life. If Jesus could take care of our greatest need with a crumb, don’t you think He could certainly take care of any other need we have?

3. Faith’s Domination…

The Saviour’s citation 28 “O woman, great is thy faith:”

Only one other got such a citation: Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"

The Saviour’s Surrender

“be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

Spurgeon said, “The Lord of Glory surrendered to the faith of the woman. She kept asking until she received. She kept seeking until she found. She kept knocking until the door was opened

I recently read a story that told of a woman who went to a neighbor's produce stand to purchase grapes. She stood in line while the farmer waited on other customers. Each person seemed to get special attention and the line was long. When the woman finally got to the head of the line, the farmer greeted her with a warm smile of recognition. She ordered her grapes, but the farmer did not immediately fill the order. Instead, he took her produce basket and walked away.

Having to wait again, the woman began to fume, thinking about how the farmer had taken such care of the strangers in front of her, not wanting them to become impatient, but with her he took his time, because he knew his nearby neighbor would be reluctant to put up a fuss. Her smoldering anger was doused, however, by the farmer's explanation as he returned with the basket full of beautiful, perfectly ripened grapes. He said, "I know I kept you waiting. But I needed the time to get you the very best."

Jesus gave us a promise, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [9]Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? [10]Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? [11]If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7: 8-11)

John Newton the author of Amazing Grace, wrote; Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring. For His grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much!

But make sure that you ask for what is MOST important.

Last week I was asked to pray for someone with a persistence illness. Hey I am asked to pray for a lot of people each week. I explained to this person that in praying for the sick there is a biblical order.. its in James 5

13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

What is the most important thing that I can pray for for a person? Their physical health, or their spiritual health?

Clearly it is their spiritual health. He who brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The first thing to do is get right with God. Once you are right with God, then physical healing might not be such an important thing for you. You have had the greatest thing, salvation, and the secondary thing healing.. well.. its not so important any more.

This woman’s great faith is contrasted to the no or little faith of the Jews.

Jesus is again on the shores of the lake, after a tour through the Tyrian and Sidonian territory, and then eastwards and southwards, to its eastern bank. There He, as on several former occasions, seeks seclusion and repose in the hills, which is broken in upon by the crowds. The old excitement and rush of people begin again. And large numbers of sick, ‘lame, blind, dumb, maimed and many others,’ are brought. They are cast ‘down at His feet’ in hot haste, with small ceremony, and, as would appear, with little petitioning for His healing power. But the same grace, for which the Canaanitish woman had needed to plead so hard, now seems to flow almost unasked. She had, as it were, wrung a drop out; now it gushes abundantly. She had not got her ‘crumb’ without much pleading; these get the bread almost without asking. It is this contrast Matthew points: ‘they glorified the God of Israel,’

Sure they glorified the God of Israel. But did they know that the Son of David, the Messiah was there in their midst? Did they trust Him for whatever He would give from His hand for their salvation? Later we will find out that they didn’t. They may have had a lot of bread on the table for them, but the lady who took the crumbs got the better deal. She had the Saviour. Do you have the Saviour? You may have had many, many special blessings in your life, health, prosperity, comfort. Even a form of religion. But do you have the Saviour? That is the real question.

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