Summary: “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’. But He answered her not a word” Matthew 15:22-23.
Theme: God’s love for all people
Text: Gen. 45:1-15; Rom. 11:1-2, 29-32; Matt. 15:21-28
We live in a world full of activity and noise both at home and outside even at night. Modern society has to live with sound systems, radios, TV’s, DVD’s, CD players, videos and video games. We are kept busy with advertisements and offers of solutions to every problem that we have no time or very little time for God. We have become so accustomed to noise and activity that we find it difficult to appreciate silence. Silence, however, often serves to draw attention to something very important. When Joseph saw his brothers he did not immediately reveal his identity. He remained silent on this issue although he loved them and was overjoyed to see them. Joseph only revealed his identity and love for them after he heard how sorry they were of their actions and saw the change in their lives. They could now appreciate his love for them in a far greater way. It is so important to know when to be silent. The Word, Jesus Christ, knows when to be silent. There are times when we desperately call to the Lord, and like it happened to the Canaanite woman, we hear no answer. There is only silence. God is love and even His silence is to reveal His love for all people.
We should never doubt God’s love when He appears silent. We should rather seek to find out the meaning of His silence. In the case of the Canaanite woman we notice certain characteristics about the silence of Christ. Jesus did not remain silent because He was indifferent and did not care. How can we even think this of the One who came to die for the sin of the whole world? Some people would like to believe that Jesus was silent because He did not want to offend the Jews by interacting with a woman who was also a gentile. In fact she was no ordinary gentile. She was a Canaanite, an enemy of the Jews. But how can we even think this of Christ who has demonstrated His love for all mankind? Even His silence can only be a demonstration of His love for her because He is love. His silence was to create the right atmosphere for the miracle that would take place. Christ, who knows all things, knew the woman’s great love for her daughter and the level of her faith and ability to overcome discouragement and doubt “that the trial of her faith might be found unto praise and honour and glory” 1 Peter 1:6-7. The silence of God often creates an atmosphere of praise and worship. This enables us to focus on who God is and what He has done and creates the right conditions for Christ’s intervention. In the case of the Canaanite woman it not only deepened her faith but led to increased earnestness and fervency in her prayer and Christ honoured her persistence.
We need the right atmosphere when we expect certain things to happen. You cannot expect ice in a hot surrounding. Leave water in a container in your room for as long as you like and you will not get ice. But leave that container in the deep freezer and the water will turn to ice. If you need steam you can keep water in a container in your room for as long as you want you will not get any steam. Neither will you be able to get any steam when you place the container in the deep freezer. But when you place the container on the fire the water will generate steam. When we focus on Christ our response can only be praise and worship. Praise and worship will inevitably lead to increased faith and this creates the right atmosphere for miracles to take place. As believers we have all experienced God’s silence in our lives. Some of us have misinterpreted this to mean that God has not heard us and have sought help from other sources. They miss out on God’s blessings for their lives. When God is silent it should encourage us to praise and worship Him even more to create the right atmosphere for the manifestation of His power.
The silence of God does not only have a meaning it also teaches us to focus on the right priorities. When God is silent on a matter it is teaching us not to focus on unnecessary details. In the case of the Canaanite woman it was not because she was a woman or a Gentile. It was to teach a lesson that although Jesus came to bring salvation to God’s people there was also a place in God’s plan for the Gentiles. The love of God is for all people “For God so loved the world…” John 3:16. The silence of Christ was also to focus on God’s love and power. The Jews of the day looked down on the Gentiles with contempt and referred to them as dogs. Jesus by His words was not looking at the woman with contempt but declaring that she had no access to the children’s bread because she was not part of the family. But she responded with faith when she focused on the love and power of God and declared that even a crumb of bread that had fallen was enough to meet her need. God’s love and power were available to all people.