Summary: Jesus is a model of compassion
"The Compassion of Christ"
Matthew 15: 21-39
Intro: Last week as we looked at the first half of this chapter, we see Jesus showing little patience or kindness with the Pharisees. These were the religious hypocrites of the day. Today, as we go on, we will see the great heart of compassion our Lord had. in this half of the chapter we see many sincere pagans. When you think about some of the most kind, generous, faithful people you know, it’s often sad to say that it is not always your Christian friends that you think of. But it should be. We see in Jesus the model of a heart of compassion for everyone.
We see here several cases of miracles performed: but what is the amazing thing is that these were not performed for the Jews in Jerusalem, but for Gentiles, out of the country of Judea. Jesus is here in Tyre, Sidon, Decapolis. He is taking his ministry beyond the walls of his peers. If we are going to be sincere in our quest to follow Christ, we must take our ministry to others beyond the walls of this building!
I. The Canaanite Woman
A. The Request -
Jesus comes to the region of Tyre and Sidon. This is a Gentile region. These were wealthy trade cities. They had a history of idolatry. Their King once set himself up as God [Ezek. 28] Yet Jesus comes here to get away.
In the parallel passage in Mark 7 we see Jesus wants to be unnoticed in the house. He wants a day off. Did you ever have a time when as much as you tried, you just couldn’t get away from people making demands on you and your time? We see Jesus dealing with just such an interruption.
A Canaanite woman cries out for Jesus to heal her daughter of demon possession. Remember that the Canaanites were the nationalities that were in Israel during the wilderness wanderings. The Jews were to drive them from the land, but they left them there. They were idol worshippers who ended up leading the Jews astray. In Jesus’ day, they would have been just about the last peoples that the Jews would have expected Jesus to help.
This woman falls at Jesus feet, Mark tells us. She wouldn’t let him alone. She kept crying out. She is so persistent that even the disciples want Jesus to deal with her. She cries out to Jesus by the claim that he was the son of David: she acknowledges him to be Messiah, and as such recognizes his ability to bring healings.
B. The Response -
Jesus responded first by silence: he ignored her.
Next he shares his vision to the disciples: he was sent to minister to the Jews.
To the woman he shares his priorities: she is outside of his main mission for the time being.
[Jesus’ plan is for all to be saved; yet he starts with ministry to the Jew]
Finally she is given her answer, because of her great faith.
C. The Lessons -
*Don’t be easily sidetracked in doing the work of the Lord: focus on the priorities.
*Be willing to take the divine initiative: when God opens a door, follow through
*Russ Wagner challenged if God opens a door of opportunity, will you do your part?
*Don’t overlook the unlovely in seeking to do good.
Who do we seek to minister to? Those like us! Look for the homosexual, the drunkard, the homeless, those with AIDS: these are those we need to show the love of Christ to!
*Don’t follow the crowd and do the "convenient" thing - Jesus did not deal with her just to get rid of her: he took the time to interact with her on a very personal basis. It is easy to just "get rid of" people who have needs: to give five dollars just to get them off of your doorstep so you can get on with yor life.
*Jesus ministers to those who are not Sunday churchgoers: we need to get out of a "church family" mentality. While we gain support and encouragement from one another, our primary ministry is not to be to one another, but to a lost, dying world who needs to hear about God’s great love.
*Expect great things from God: believe that he has the power to work for you!
II. The Gentile Crowds
"praised the God of Israel" - these were Gentile crowds that followed Jesus: most likely on the East bank of the sea, near Decapolis.
-Jesus is there for three days of healings: he doesn’t seek just to spend token time; he takes all the time necessary to relate to them on a very personal level. He took the time to help.