Title: You have received the gift of faith in Christ!
Text: Matt. 15:21-28
28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
In 1853 when Hudson Taylor went to China, he made the voyage on a sailing vessel. As it neared the channel between the southern Malay Peninsula and the island of Sumatra, the missionary heard an urgent knock on his stateroom door. He opened it, and there stood the captain of the ship. "Mr. Taylor," he said, "we have no wind and a rapid current is carrying the ship toward some reefs and the situation is becoming dangerous. I understand that you believe in God, Mr. Taylor and I want you to pray for wind." "All right, Captain, I will … but you must set the sail." "Why that's ridiculous! There's not even the slightest breeze. Besides, the sailors will think I'm crazy." But finally, because of Taylor's insistence, the captain agreed. Forty- five minutes later he returned and found the missionary still on his knees. "You can stop praying now," said the captain. "We've got more wind than we know what to do with!"
St. Augustine reminds us:
Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
The very Good News is that:
You have received the gift of faith in Christ!
Last week we took a walk on the water with Jesus and Peter. If you remember, Peter had his eyes focused on Jesus and he asked Jesus to call him out of the boat so he could walk on the water to where Jesus was. Christ said “Come” and Peter walked on the water to Jesus but as the wind and the waves raged Peter lost focus … he took his eyes off of Christ and beginning to sink, cried “Lord save me!” Jesus took hold of Peter and when they both entered the boat and the wind and the waves ceased.
Today’s reading once again has Jesus looking for a place of rest. The people had been following Him relentlessly looking for maybe a free meal here and there, healing for their illnesses, and any manner of a miracle – but they were not terrible interested in the gospel message that had been being preached. Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? Many in our own day look for temporal blessings instead of eternal security. So Jesus withdrew from the populated area of the Sea of Galilee and went up north to the region of Tyre and Sidon in the district of Phoenicia.
22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
This woman knew about Jesus. Apparently His fame had spread beyond the region of Galilee. She also had been familiar with the books of the Jews and their coming Messiah, and by the working of the Holy Spirit came to believe that this Jesus was the one prophesied from long ago, calling him both “Lord” and “Son of David.” Her request is also a petition for the Lord’s mercy upon her situation. Her focus is upon Jesus.
To this the Lord remains quiet. We’re told that he didn’t even say a word, continuing on with His business as if he hadn’t heard a thing.
Martin Luther says: “Christ nowhere in all the gospels is painted as being so hard as here.”
And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”
The disciples didn’t want the bother, didn’t want the problem, telling Jesus to send her away. “She isn’t one of us.” You can almost hear them say. Once again the disciples fail to have or show compassion. Just as with the feeding of the 5000 they were content to send them away … until Jesus says, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” Matt. 14:16
Let’s look at what is dead faith. "It is that kind of faith which would lead a man to take a bottle of medicine from his medicine cabinet. Looking at the instructions on it, he says, 'I'm sure they're correct. I have all confidence in the source of the medicine. I know who wrote these directions. I believe everything about it. I know this will relieve my headache, if I just take it.' But then he takes the medicine bottle and puts it back on the shelf. He doesn't lose his headache. It continues on. Yet he can say I believe that medicine. I believe all about that medicine. But still he won't take it. That's dead faith.
James 2:20 - Dr. Harlan Roper, Tape on James, Dallas, Texas.
The disciples are an interesting lot. First they cry out in fear as they are tosses by the wind and the waves on the Sea of Galilee. They see a ghost which turns out to be Jesus. He calms their fears as he and Peter get into the boat and the sea is calmed. They all reply, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matt. 14:33b
Now, just as quickly, seeing someone else in distress, they want her sent away … they don’t want to be bothered.
The disciples are you … and they are me, if we are honest with ourselves. At times we don’t want to be bothered even though we have Jesus and His wonderful Good News and gift of faith. If there is a need, “Not me, I’ve done my time let someone else do it!” Or, we’re too quick to see all that we do ourselves and we want maybe others to recognize just how much we do and how hard we work for the church and for Christ. Both are wrong and both are sinful because you have Christ and His gift of faith which is to have you love others as Christ has loved you.
So Jesus says to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
To this Luther says: “Christ was a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, as Paul wrote in Rom. 15:8, 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, But when [Christ] came he found many Samaritans and Sadducees, as there are many, [skeptics] still today, but he was supposed to preach in that land [of the Jews], and afterward he preached to the whole world through the apostles. Christ was therefore sent to the Jews in person because they had the promise of his person. The Gentiles didn’t have the promise but they had mercy. Rom. 15:9, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
LW Vol.54. Pg. 451
To Jesus, this Canaanite woman replies: “Lord, help me.”
Here his words are stinging but true.
“It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”
It is implied that the Gentile woman and all her family and people were not God’s chosen people as were the Israelites, that they could be considered in the eyes of God only as dogs, while the Jews were His children. That’s a pretty stern judgment which the Lord gave, in which there surely appeared not a glimmer of hope for the distressed mother.
As Luther writes, there was not an absolute denial of her request; there was still room for an argument. And, besides, Christ had not compared her people and her family to the street-dogs, but to the house-dogs that live with their masters in the home.
Kretzmann Popular Commentary on the Bible NT Vol. 1 pg 84-85
If you have ever had a house dog you know that in many cases they live with their owners very well and receive many times … food from the table.
The woman does not lose faith or take her eyes off Jesus but simply replies, 27 … “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”
She says, yes sometimes even the dogs receive those crumbs, those blessings that she is looking for, because the dogs stay at the table. They are near the table and if your dogs are like my dogs … they don’t move … but sit waiting.
This woman would not be denied. She was keeping her eyes upon Jesus and knew by faith that He had the gift she needed, and the gift she wanted, both for herself and her daughter. To this Jesus says:
“O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
You too have received the gift of faith in Christ!
Luther in his Table Talk discussions says: That [Christ] didn’t speak to us, but about us, [We who are afar off.] He wished to test this woman’s faith, [just as our own faith is tested] and when she said, “Lord, it’s true, I don’t deserve it, and I know I didn’t have the promise,” he [Jesus] heard her prayer.
LW Vol. 54 pg. 451
“God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.”
Your prayers too are heard because you have faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ has had mercy upon you and has given you forgiveness of your sins. You are his child a member of his family grafted into the vine receiving all that is at His table.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!