Summary: Here is a great story, full of drama, of desperation, of the bringing down of the walls of racism and pride.
Passage: Matthew 15:21-28
Intro: It’s a gripping story. Has all the elements of great drama.
1. personal desperation, great need
2. controversy, argument, decision
3. it is an intensely personal story, teaching great principles that have powerful application.
4. Jesus is at a ministry crossroads here
5. let’s set the stage, and then see how the drama plays out
I. A Background of Sharp Contrast
1. in vv1-20, Jesus had a sharp disagreement with the religious leaders
2. hand-washing, a “rule of man” that Jesus rejected.
3. told those listening, “don’t follow these blind guides”
4. “strategic withdrawal” in v21, 4th time in Matthew. But first time out of Israel in ministry.
PP Map of Tyre, Sidon, 40-50 miles from Galillee
5. v22 is striking, “a Canaanite woman”
6. Matthews use of this word dredges up all the pictures of a people under God’s judgment.
7. sharp contrast with the Jews Jesus had just left.
PP Jews: chosen by God, recipients of great revelation, blind to God’s revelation, unaware of their need, smug in their hard-earned relationship with God. Canaanite woman: heritage of sin and judgment, small revelation, rejected by Jews (and God?) aware of need, in need of grace and mercy.
8. but what really separates her is her statement of “Son of David, have mercy on me!” v22
9. these Jewish leaders would never make a statement full of such Messianic overtones, such personal need. They were the greatest!!
10. don’t miss this contrast!!
11. Jesus has walked away from one and walked 50 miles toward the other, at God’s leading.
12. and this mother had a big problem; a daughter who was demon-possessed.
II. A Question of Motivation
1. first response by Jesus was silence
2. why? I’m not sure. Test? See what disciples would do?
3. disciples response is also muddy v23
4. “just get rid of her”, or “do what she wants so she will go away and leave us alone.”
5. I vote for #2, because of Jesus’ response: a very sharply worded rejection, “ I was not sent except to…”
Il) healed the centurions servant, who may have been a Jew, but was at least a legal resident of Judea
6. heard by both disciples and this woman.
7. but the faith of this mother would not be denied v25
8. comes right up, kneels and begs for help. On what basis?
9. the character of God, and her desperate need.
10. there is nothing in her plea that indicates that she deserves it.
11. in fact, Jesus responds to her plea with one of the most difficult statements He has ever made.
12. “not right to give…” v26
13. first, word is “not good”
14. 2nd, “dogs” are little lap dogs, not mongrels in the street.
PP side-by-side, pampered pooch versus nasty street dog
15. 3rd, the picture is priority of feeding
Il) when I make my bacon and eggs, my dog waits patiently to lick the plate. And when Jan puts food down, he knows that the cats get the first crack.
16. this was the way God set it up, for the Gentiles to get what the Jews did not want.
III. Faith Requests Grace, and does not Demand it.
1. this woman might well have said, “Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m no dog”
2. but look at her response in v27
3. it is full of faith and humility
4. “Lord, you are right that I don’t deserve, cannot demand.”
5. but if you could give to me a little of your grace that I don’t deserve, but which I need, I would be grateful.
6. and why is she asking Jesus for this undeserved favor?
7. because she believes that it is consistent with the loving, merciful, gracious character of God.
8. let’s contrast this with a current controversy at work in our own state.
9. many of us have compassion for the needs of our neighbors from south of the border.
10. but the response to SB1070 has been quite revealing.
PP demonstrations against it. “We deserve to be here. We demand to be here, legally or otherwise.”
11. US has been quite gracious over the decades, and might continue to be so.
12. but the demanding of “rights” is blowing up in the faces of those making the demands.
13. you cannot demand grace! If you do, it is no longer grace.
14. this woman requested it from the gracious person she had faith in, and it impressed Jesus.
15. and we recognize what is always taught in Scripture; that faith overcomes nationality or race or birthright or all the other things that make us think we deserve something from God.
16. faith lets go of pride and throws itself on the character of God.