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Matthew 15:21-28

Let Faith Arise

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • August 18, 2019

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Let Faith Arise

Matthew 15:21-28

Illus. What is going on?

In Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus is pursued by a Canaanite woman, in the district of Tyre and Sidon, a region He had never before been. It was a place where Gentiles, or non-Jewish people lived. It was the first and only time Jesus would go to this particular region and upon His arrival, He is pursued by a woman in need.

On this woman’s heart was help for her daughter in need, and in her heart, she knew that in getting before Jesus, she was before the One her help would come from. There were dividing lines in place, yet she does not let the opportunity to receive from Jesus slip away, rather, she remains determined to let her faith arise despite the perceived response of her cry.

Read: Matthew 15:21-28

The scenario was a familiar one, many people in Israel had begun to pursue Jesus for healing, but the surroundings were quite different. This was a Gentile woman coming to Him, and He was in a Gentile country.

There were many reasons for her to stay away, many tensions that could get in the way but they did not stop her. With each passing statement, she went greater lengths in showing her destitution and awareness that there was no substitution for what Jesus could do in her life, He was her only hope.

In your life and mine there are things that get in the way as well. Reasons you might think it’s best to stay away, or to refrain from a full pursuit of Jesus. But I encourage you like this Gentile woman with the odds seemingly against her, to turn every obstacle into an opportunity to let your faith arise.

I. Don’t Allow Your Place to Prevent Your Pursuit

Matthew 15:21-22, Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”

  • The woman in need comes to Jesus after His arrival to the region of Tyre and Sidon, which was 30 to 50 miles from Galilee.
  • Her approach to Jesus was bold because in that day and culture, she already had a few strikes against her.
  • First, she was a Gentile, which was a non-Jewish person.
  • Additionally, she was a Canaanite, raised in a pagan culture been known for its wickedness. The Canaanites, were the most morally despised of Israel’s enemies in the Old Testament.
  • From Mark 7:25, we know that after hearing Jesus was at a house in the region of Tyre, this woman, whose daughter had an unclean spirit (demon) immediately came to where He was and fell at Jesus’ feet.
  • Whatever she had tried, whoever she had sought for help in the midst of her daughter’s demon possession had been unsuccessful.
  • In her desperation, hearing that Jesus was near, she came to where He was and cried out to Him.
  • There were social, political, racial, and positional tensions in place, she would be well aware of those.
  • While we don’t know when or what specifically she had heard, it is apparent that she knew enough to be stirred deeply, Jesus was the One she needed.
  • Though this Canaanite woman was from a different place, a place where Jesus had never been, a place where the sick and the lame hadn’t been healed, and the lepers hadn’t been cleansed, she did not let her place prevent her pursuit.
  • This morning there may be some things in your life as well. Perhaps some tensions that have kept you away, or left you wandering, wondering what turning to Jesus in the midst of your turmoil might turn out like…

Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Illus. My place in pursuit.

John 1:14, And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Upon knowing where Jesus was, she “began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David” (vs. 22).
  • By calling Him Son of David, she knew who Jesus was and displayed her acceptance of Him as the Jewish Messiah.
  • By saying “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David,” she understands that it is His mercy she needs.
  • In using this phrase, “have mercy,” she was using a phrase that was used throughout Jesus ministry by Jews who were in need.
  • From Mark 7:25 we know that she has fallen at His feet, and is crying aloud, “Have mercy...”
  • She had pushed past her “place” in pursuit of Jesus, she approached Him appropriately by referring to Him as “Son of David” just as the Jews in need had done.

Matthew 15:23, He did not answer her a word.

  1. Keep seeking the midst of silence
  • She cried out, but Jesus was silent.
  • The easiest assumption might be that it was because she was a Gentile, it is important to remember that Jesus had already healed a Centurions servant in Matthew 8:5-13.
  • Augustine said insightfully of this encounter, ‘The Word spoke not a word.’
  • If there is a situation where I would think Jesus would respond, this is it. A Gentile woman coming to Jesus, recognizing Him as Lord, falling at His feet, crying out helplessly for mercy in her situation and for her child.
  • Yet, the ‘word spoke not a word.’
  • This situation would become important for her faith, and similar situations are important for ours as well…In silence, Jesus was drawing her deeper.
  • Jesus did not turn this woman away, He did not rebuke her, He did not turn to her and say no way, or go away.
  • Nor was Jesus being difficult, rather, He was drawing her to deeper faith. You might wonder the same in your life, why no answer?
  • It is important to realize that silence in the midst of seeking, is not the same as “no.”
  • Why don’t I have an answer? Why is my situation remaining the same?
  • It could be that the Lord wants to do something much deeper.
  • We can often come to our own conclusions, or the conclusion of another, but often those conclusions only add to confusion.

Matthew 15:23, [They] implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”

  • The disciples thought it best to send her away, they were off-put, “this woman keeps shouting at us…send her on her way!”
  • Truth is, she was crying out to Jesus. In the midst of it, she would have to fight to ensure that His voice was the only one she waited for.
  • When you seek Him in the midst of silence, it is important to remain faithful to that pursuit, even if others are discouraging you.
  • Another example in Scripture is of a blind man named Bartimaeus, who was sitting alongside the road when he heard Jesus was coming and cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Mark 10:48, Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

  • There also may be voices speaking into your need as well, to stop the silence, by offering an out based on their observation, but, it is important to keep seeking the Lord in the silence.

Psalm 62:5, My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.

  • Here David tells himself to “be still,” to wait in silence, and so often that is what we need to do also.
  • Sometimes in the silence, in the waiting, in the worry, we are looking for the next thing to do.
  • But David tells his soul to wait for God only. That is the ground upon which hope is found.
  • People may give a speech about your situation, but I encourage you to wait for the Lord only.

Luke 11:5-10

Illus. I tried to reach you.

  1. Be resolved in reliance
  • Hearing Jesus’ response to His disciples, seems to pose a greater degree of difficulty to her dilemma.

Matthew 15:24, He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

  • Jesus’ mission was first to “His own” (John 1:11), but ultimately to as many as received Him (John 1:12).

1 John 2:2, He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

  • Limitations of time held His ministry on earth almost exclusively within the bounds of Israel; it was then left to the Holy Spirit working in His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19)
  • While true, Jesus had already ministered to Gentiles on previous occasions, specifically the Roman Centurion (Mt. 8:5-13).
  • It seems here that everything was against her, but she did not give up. Jesus knew she wouldn’t.
  • He was not out to be difficult, but rather to draw out an understanding from her that was not only helpful in her situation, but to you and me and the generations to come.
  • It wasn’t about her history, rather the beautiful mystery of salvation by grace through faith.
  • There was nothing she could offer, there was no way that she could fix her situation, or force her way…Yet despite all of that, she knew that Jesus was her only hope.

Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • She did not argue the truth of Jesus’ words. There was nothing she had or was that would make her worthy of His help, she knew that, and bowed down before Him, praying a simple, yet powerful prayer.

Vs. 25, “Lord, help me!”

  • In difficulty, we sometimes hear how someone else got through, what they did, what they prayed…and think that must be the ticket.
  • Rather than rely on a routine, she remains resolved in her reliance.

Matthew 15:26-28, And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.”

  • In speaking of children and dogs, Jesus was expressing a symbolic narrative.
  • In referring to children, He is referring to the children of Israel (the Jews); in speaking of bread, He is referring to Himself, the Bread of Life. In speaking of dogs, He is referring to the Gentiles.
  • The Jews commonly called themselves children, and the Gentiles dogs.
  • Interestingly, there are two Greek words used to depict “dog”: The first refers to a mangy, vicious dogs that ran in a pack and lived off garbage and the carcasses of dead animals.
  • The other, as referred to here, was a household pet…Literally, a little puppy, one that is a part of the family.
  • Jesus is reiterating to her what He had said to the disciples… “I have come first and foremost to the house of Israel.”
  • In hearing His response, she doesn’t argue, she understands what He is saying, yet her response is filled with faith…
  • “Though the puppy dogs don’t get the best bread, they still get the crumbs from the master’s table….and for me, anything from your table is enough.”
  • I can picture Jesus’ face and He is faced with this woman of faith. It was what He was after all along, for her faith to arise.
  • “O woman (a term of respect), your faith is great it shall be done to you as you wish.”

Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 

Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. 

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