Summary: We see through this Mother: 1) The Setting for Great Faith, 2) The Qualities of Great Faith and 3) The Lord’s Response to Great Faith.
If you look throughout history to those who had the greatest influences, you most often find that they possessed mother’s of great faith. They had mothers who prayed for them and did whatever possible regardless of the obstacles.
Jesus told of only two people that had “great faith”. He said that a Roman Centurion who wanted his servant healed had “great faith” (Matt. 8:10). The only other person who was told this is the mother in our text today. This is a mother who had “great faith”.
Mother’s have so many pressures on them today that it can be difficult to prioritize what do to and how to do it. If we were to look at what God considers of greatest importance, it would be faith, and the picture here of the Canaanite woman exemplifies great faith. People may never know your name, like this woman here, but the impact of your faith may change everything.
In Matthew 15:21-28, we see through this Mother: 1) The Setting for Great Faith, 2) The Qualities of Great Faith and 3) The Lord’s Response to Great Faith.
1) The Setting for Great Faith: Matthew 15:21
Matthew 15:21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. (ESV)
Until this time Jesus had carried on most of His ministry in Galilee; but now He went away because of the rapidly mounting pressures that faced Him there.
He was under pressure first of all from the multitudes who followed Him from place to place and were convinced He was the long-predicted Messiah. They were right in recognizing that His miraculous powers marked Him as the true Messiah, but they were wrong about the kind of Messiah He had come to be. They expected Him to deliver them from the oppressive Romans and their Herodian lackeys and to usher in an unending period of political freedom and material prosperity. After His feeding of the five thousand, they even intended “to come and take Him by force, to make Him king” (John 6:15).
Second, Jesus was under the pressure of possible arrest and execution by Herod Antipas, who thought Jesus was John the Baptist come back from the dead (Matt. 14:2). The king’s jealous hatred of anyone who threatened his throne would have led him to murder Jesus just as coldly as he had John.
The greatest pressure, however, was from the Jewish religious leaders. The scribes and Pharisees of Galilee had already determined to destroy Jesus (12:14), and after He rebuked and embarrassed the delegation from Jerusalem by showing the ungodliness of their man-made traditions (15:1–9), the danger from the religious establishment escalated.
Quote: As Alfred Edersheim commented, Jesus “was saying distinctly un-Jewish things,” and even the enthusiasm of the multitudes cooled rapidly when He began to make clear what allegiance to Him demanded (John 6:60–66).
Besides His need for physical refreshment and time to be alone with the twelve, Jesus therefore had those additional reasons to find a place of temporary retreat. He had moved away by going across the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida Julias, only to be followed by a massive crowd whom He miraculously fed. And after crossing back over to the Plain of Gennesaret just south of Capernaum, He was immediately recognized and was again surrounded by the sick, crippled, and diseased who wanted healing.
Jesus therefore withdrew from the frenzy of Galilee and traveled northwest to the district of Tyre and Sidon, out of the land of Israel and beyond the jurisdiction of both Herod and the Jewish religious leaders.
The mention of Tyre and Sidon is not merely to document Jesus’ geographical location, but to conjure up images of some of Israel’s most hated enemies (see, e.g., Isa 23; Ezek 26–28; Joel 3:4 (Chouinard, Larry: Matthew. Joplin, Mo. : College Press, 1997 (The College Press NIV Commentary), S. Mt 15:21).
• The district of Tyre and Sidon was the Gentile territory of ancient Phoenicia, an area now in southern Lebanon, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Tyre was 35 miles from Galilee and Sidon was 60 (Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:55).
As far as we know, this was the only time during His public ministry that Jesus was outside Jewish territory, outside the boundaries of Palestine. (MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Mt 15:21)
• It is possible that He and the disciples spent most of their time in the foothills of the mountains, which would have been a refreshing change in climate from the hot and arid region of Galilee.
• More importantly, Jesus would gain time to be alone with the disciples and to further prepare them for His coming crucifixion and their apostolic ministry.