Summary: Do you know someone who needs a miracle? Maybe - just maybe - that miracle is supposed to come through you...
The word “miracle” comes from the old Latin word miraculum, which means "something wonderful". A miracle is a extraordinary interposition of Divine intervention by God in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of nature is overruled, suspended, or modified.
Have you ever felt like you needed a miracle? A real one? Not just a change in circumstances because things were a bit uncomfortable, but a very real, God-in-the-midst-of-trial intervention because you or someone you knew was in desperate straights and there was no hope otherwise?
Our passage today takes us once again to a scene where Jesus is surrounded by people who are in that very place. Jesus has returned from the region of Tyre and Sidon and is now back close to His old neighborhood, the region of Galilee. Yet He is still in Gentile territory, with no mention of Him having stopped in Capernaum, Bethsaida or any of the other cities of the Jews in the region of Galilee.
We get this information from the parallel account in Mark 7:31-37. Mark tells us in 7:31: “Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis.”
Decapolis is a Greek word that means “ten cities”. The region of Decapolis was rather long and broad, extending from the south end of the Sea of Galilee toward the Dead Sea, almost top Jericho. Decapolis contained nine cities on the east side of the Jordan and only one on the west side. During Christ’s time, these cities were predominantly Gentile. That is why when Jesus was in the area before (Matthew 8:28-34), we saw that there were swine keepers in Gergesa, one of the ten cities of Decapolis.
Now, the only thing we know for sure that Jesus did in Tyre and Sidon was have that conversation with the Canaanite woman and deliver her daughter of a demon. Now, we can assume He spoke to others. Did He teach? Did He perform a miracle or two or hundreds more than this one? We just don’t know.
Why do you think that is, do you suppose? Why wouldn’t Matthew or Mark, the two gospel writers who record that event, not say anything more about their extended trip into Gentile territory with Jesus? It was a trip that would have taken several weeks on foot, which we know is how they traveled.
Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have been a part of those conversations that they must have had along the way? When I think about that, and in light of what our study entails today, it really causes me to wonder about these disciples of Jesus. How could they be so dense, so hard to get through to?
What Jesus has been doing among the Jews, He now does among the Gentiles. Look at their response to Him – “large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them (Matthew 15:30).”
Again, we see that there is something about Jesus that draws people to Him, especially people in need. People who are desperate, people who are at the end of their options, the end of their hope for relief or help or release – people who need a miracle because that is all that is left.
This, I think, is a reminder to us that God is not going to perform a miracle for us when we don’t really need one. Sure, His heart goes out to us; sure, He feels a deep compassion for us; sure, He has wonderful desires for us and our lives. But – and this is an important “but” – Jesus will not intervene when it isn’t necessary.
I opened our time together today by asking you if you’ve ever felt that you needed a very real miracle, a “God-in-the-midst-of-trial intervention because there was no hope otherwise.” That’s when Jesus intervenes and performs miracles – that’s when Jesus intervenes in our troubles and changes the outcome.
There is another condition that goes along with that one. We see it in the amazing response of these Gentiles that Jesus was healing and the folks that brought them to Him – “they glorified the God of Israel (verse 31).”
These were Gentiles! These were pagans, people who had multiple gods and who worshiped idols. These were unwashed, unclean, uncircumcised heathens who knew nothing of Yahweh. Yet, when they encountered Jesus, heard His teachings, received His miraculous intervention, “they glorified the God of Israel.” Not the God of pharisaic Israel, but the God of Israel as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
Receiving the miraculous intervention of God takes it being something that is an absolute necessity and it takes a heart prepared to offer God the glory – even if the person doesn’t know Him by name. If those two things are missing, no miracle.