Summary: How do you approach God - tenaciously or tentatively? It can make a big different in how your prayers get answered.
Have you ever done something totally embarrassing in front of a very famous or powerful person? I remember when Ronald Regan was running for governor of California (I know I’m dating myself here). I was a young (very young) boy in a small town in northern California. Mr. Regan came by plane for a quick visit at the airport. I was there and joined the small crowd welcoming the candidate.
Everyone was getting autographs and I had just started collecting them so I had my autograph book and my pen at the ready. My chance came when Mr. Regan drew close so I reached out to be nice and hand him my pen to sign my book. Instead of giving him the pen, however, I ended up drawing a huge line all across his hand. I quickly slunk back into the crowd and I never got that autograph.
Today we’re going to look at a woman who does the outrageous – as a gentile she approaches Jesus and asks for healing for her daughter. But Jesus doesn’t just do it – He at first refuses. Now if it were us, asking the Messiah for something audacious when we knew we really had no right – once Jesus says "I’m not called to you folks" – I’d have slunk back into the crowd and faded away – embarrassed. But not this woman – and as we’ll see her tenacious faith is a lesson for us and shows the difference between Jesus as simply a sign maker and the Messiah.
21 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.
Principles of the Canaanite woman
Jesus was not insulting her, only telling her of His primary mission to give the Jews first options at accepting Him
The term "little dog" is not derogatory – the Jews would call gentiles "dogs" but that term is of wild dogs – this means a household pet
Jesus didn’t slight her, he challenged her to think deeply
She understood His parable – and took it a step further – the children are fed first, then the dogs, but often the children give little morsels at the table. She knows that the gentiles will receive the gospel later, but couldn’t she just have a little crumb now in the form of a miracle for her daughter?
The principals for us
Jesus knows our level of understanding and will often bring us just past our ability in order to stretch our faith
We need to go with what He’s telling us – follow His logic, even bounce things back to Him – that is His way of revealing us to ourselves, and Him to us
Maybe you feel unworthy to ask Jesus for anything – because of sin or weakness, maybe because of the enemy’s accusations or just how you feel about yourself. This woman shouldn’t have come to Jesus, but she did and she persisted. Even if you don’t feel worthy, come before the Lord and be persistent.
Look at Jesus’ authority – He didn’t visibly do anything, and the demon left the Canaanite woman’s daughter
Also look at the disciples attitude – dismissing this woman because she didn’t fit the preconception of who they were ministering to. We need to make sure that "churchiness" doesn’t stand in the way of someone accepting Jesus.
James says: "You have not because you ask not." Jesus in Luke 11:5-13 says:
5 Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ’Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
7 "Then the one inside answers, ’Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.