Summary: Many people come to Jesus for different reasons. From Matt.15:21-39 we can see that these individuals and the crowd come to Jesus with Persistence, with Preference and with Possessions.
There are many people who come to Jesus for different reasons. We can see at least one principle from each of them from Matthew 15:21-39. They come to Jesus with:
All of them have something in common – a need is brought to Jesus, and Jesus meets the need.
"The key to gaining something from God is coming to Jesus."
1. Persistence (Matt. 15:21-28)
Most preachers have pointed out her persistence. She does not have the right to come to Jesus as Son of David. She is not one of the children of Israel, but she calls out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy! My daughter is tormented with demons.”
The phonecians had their own healing arts and traditions about how to bring healing to somebody. They also had some strange demonic practices. We do not really know the history. But she comes to Jesus and seeks mercy. And Jesus is silent.
There are four ways in which she is rebuffed:
1. Jesus ignored her -- And when that did not work, she kept crying out. It was this obnoxious calling out – she keeps crying out.
2. Jesus denied her racial/spiritual qualifications -- His first response and statement to her is a rejection. He says, “I was not sent except to the children of Israel.”
In His first coming, until His death and resurrection, He came to fulfill the prophecies that were given to the Jews concerning the Messiah. So His first statement to her is rejection. “I came for the people of Israel. You are obviously not an Israelite”. Basically He says, “I am not here for you, but for someone else.”
3. The disciples wanted her sent away -- They say, “Lord, send her away – if You are not going to heal her daughter, just get rid of her. Tell her to leave.” Now Jesus does not do what they ask Him to do.
4. Jesus related her to a dog in comparison to the place of the Jews -- As she kept begging Him, Jesus says, “It is not right to take the food from the children and give it to the dogs.” Ouch!
You might have heard this passage many times and read through this, without thinking what it must have been to be this woman. From our perspective Jesus is doing all the wrong things.
He never read the book, “How to win friends and influence people.” He is doing everything wrong. If somebody comes to me and they say, “I need an answer from God.” And I say, “Go away.” And they keep saying, “I need an answer from God.” And I say, “We are not here for you. Go away. Get lost!” And they keep persisting. And I say, “Hey, this is the church. And what we got for the church is not to take it and give it to a dog like you!” What would you think of me if I did that? Can you even imagine me acting like that? But Jesus did! I believe He had a purpose in doing that. He was teaching the disciples a lesson, in the beautiful attitude and faith of this woman. And He knew that He could bring that illustration to His disciples. He was playing the role of a typical Jew, a typical Jew who hated peopled from other races, a bigot.
But we see in her response something very extraordinary! Would you respond in a way she responded? She says, “Lord, but even the dogs get to lick up the crumbs that fall from the master’s table!” In other words, she says, "Lord , You are so good and powerful! What I need is such a small thing for You, it is like a crumb falling from the table. It is nothing for You to take care of my daughter.”
Did Jesus’ disciples have that kind of faith? No in the later instance, where people need food, they do not respond with that kind of faith, even though Jesus had done something similar before. So Jesus responds to her, “Great is your faith!” Such persistence!
A pastor in the US says it like this:
“She came in humility, knowing Jesus did not owe her anything. When Jesus called her a
dog, she did not argue.” In a sense, we are all dogs, not deserving bread from the
Master’s table. But maybe we don’t need bread from Someone of such wealth and
resources. All we need is crumbs.
John Kapteyn said,
“Faith is not proven true by answered prayer but by unanswered prayer that does not
make us waver or give up on God.”
So, she did not seek Jesus with a sense that He owed her something. She sought out His mercy, His grace, even His leftovers.