Summary: God’s silence is not a sign of rejection but a call to greater faith

Sermon: In His Silence Matt 15:21-28 August 18. 2002


I. Introduction

A. I am glad you are here this morning for I have a few things I want to say to you:

1. You have to listen

(a) A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two-tired.

(b) A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

(c) A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

(d) The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large

(e) Once you’ve seen one shopping centre you’ve seen a mall.

(f) When an actress saw her first strands of gray hair she thought she’d dye.

(g) Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

(h) Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of “defeet”.

2. I noticed a few of you smiling but I am not really sure really got what I just said so this time listen carefully, digest what I am saying (REPEAT some of the above slowly)

3. Americans are not considered to be very good listeners mostly because we are too busy talking ourselves. We want to makes sure the other person hears our point, understands what we are saying sometimes it takes something really dramatic to get our attention.

B. This mornings story is of the Canaanite women and her demon possessed daughter is dramatic alright and it gets our attention but at first glance we are left wondering is this the Jesus I know, the Jesus of love and compassion. "It is difficult to find a harsher and more unfeeling reply in the four Gospels than that which our Lord made to the Canaanite woman. In our present climate, if someone just overheard the first part of this Gospel reading, Jesus would be finished. (Richard McCullen)

C. But if we will listen to the story we might just learn a few things about God and ourselves.

II. VS 21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon

A. Jesus had been a very busy man. He had fed 5000 men and who knows how many women and children, he had healed the lame, the sick and the afflicted, he tried to rest but got little time alone, and he had rescued his disciples from a storm

B. Tyre and Sidon are 50 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It is a long walk and we are not sure why he goes there. It is the farthest north that he will travel and the only time in this gospel that he goes outside of Jewish/Samaritan territory except to escape Herod as a baby and to visit Gadara. Perhaps God leads him there just so we might enjoy the story of this remarkable, fait filled Canaanite woman.

III. VS 22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting.

A. Canaaites were bitter enemies of the Jews. They were a loose company of tribes with a checkered history with the Jews. Noah cursed his son who became the ancestor of Canaan to be a slave to his brother. After entering the Promised land the Israelites suffered the Lord’s greatest wrath for mingling with the barbaric pagan Canaanites, for adopting their customs, culture and idols. The last Old Testament prophesy concerning the Canaanites found in Zechariah was a damning exclusion of the Canaanites in the house of the Lord Almighty.

B. AND NOW WE find Jesus in the middle of these pagans, choosing to go to them, and this woman, this Canaanite is shouting at Jesus

1. in Greek the word means cry out, scream screech

2. this woman was demanding Jesus attention by the sheer volume and audacity of the words she yelled.

3. Have mercy on me Lord Son of David – She addresses Jesus as both Lord and the Son of David, words a Jew might use for the Messiah. Only once before has Jesus heard such words, even from his own disciples. Here was a Canaanite woman, an outsider, a non Jew, acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.

4. Her words contrast those of the Pharisees and scribes – the jews to whom Jesus was sent. She understood what they were to blind to see. The clarity of her vision contrasts with the disciples’ lack of vision to see Jesus as son of God. Her words and demeanor are ones of reverence and faith .

IV. VS 23 He did not answer her at all

A. It doesn’t make sense we have just had this tremendous expression of Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus just sits there, refusing to answer the woman.

1. Throughout the new testament we see Jesus always responding to cries for mercy, salvation and healing. His silence here is stunning awkward, disturbing.

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