Great is Your Faith Back to all sermons
Date: May 10, 2013
Speaker: Pastor Chris Bruce
Scripture: Matthew 15:21–15:28
Synopsis: This week, being Mother's Day in some countries around the world, we look at a mother often overlooked in God's word yet her story is repeated in two different gospels: firstly in Matthew 15:21-28 and again in Mark 7:24-30. This mother gives us an example how we as parents should seek after Jesus, being willing to go on their knees and beg and plead before the God of All to see change in their children's lives. Can we come to a place where Jesus looks at us and says, "Great is Your Faith!"?
Introduction: As you might have realised, today is a youth service, and usually at a Youth Service I like to talk about a young person in the Bible, and remind the church the youth are not the church of tomorrow but are an active part of the ministry taking place in the global church today. This week however I am reminded that Sunday is Mother’s Day in South Africa and a number of other countries, and I’d like to take a closer look at a mother in the Bible that has no name mentioned. Her story is told twice, firstly in Matthew 15:21-28 and again in Mark 7:24-30.
Matthew 15:21-28: 21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 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.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 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.
Mark 7:24-30: 24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
1. Jesus was tired:
An interesting story repeated in 2 Gospels, one with an audience to Jewish people and one with an audience of Gentiles. When we look at the context of this passage, Jesus has had a very busy time, Looking back at the last three chapters we see from 13:1-52, Jesus was teaching parables, then He went to Nazareth, his home town where his message was rejected. Chapter 14, He hears about his cousin John, his Prophet has been killed, and so again he teaches to 5000 plus crowds, doing a miracle of feeding them, trying to find some alone time, he walks on water to catch up to his disciples, but as soon as they hit land at Gennesaret, He is recognised and heals all who touch his garment, Moving on to Chapter 15, the first 20 verses, we see the Pharisees and the Scribes arguing with Him, verse 21 says, “And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.“, but Mark says it clearer in verse 24, “And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.” Jesus needed a break. He was tired, He had been giving and giving, He was most likely grieving over John, and just trying to hide away.
I’m sure there are people in this congregation who could tell me exactly what Jesus was feeling at this point. Teachers I know are waiting for the next 2 months to be over, Summer is coming and I am going to relax. Not everyone gets time off but many people are ready for some time away, some time to breathe. Jesus had reached that point, He did not want anyone to know where He was, his mission was to the Jews first and so He came away, away from them, away to the coast, Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician Seaports, away to relax, recuperate, and while He is trying to be anonymous, this mother comes to Him. Imagine you were in the same position, how would you respond?
2. The Mother:
This woman, a Syrophoenician. According to the Bible Dictionary she was an inhabitant of Phoenicia, which in NT times was part of the Roman province of Cilicia and Syria. The parallel verse in Matt. 15:22 calls the woman a Canaanite, using the ancient name by which these people were known. The name that the Jews knew were their enemies, the ones they were supposed to have destroyed totally. It comes as no surprise to the disciples that Jesus ignores her. Verse 23 says, “But he did not answer her a word.” Nor should He have, firstly she was a woman, secondly a Gentile, and worse than just a Gentile, a Canaanite. But she was more than these three things. She was a mother, whose daughter was oppressed by a demon or an unclean spirit. She most likely had tried other methods many even the religious priests of your own country, but on hearing Jesus was in town, on hearing the miracles he had done. She went and was begging for His help, not just once or twice, but for so long that the disciples had had just about enough. Verse 23, “And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”” This reminds me of two other verses, The Parable in Luke 11:5-13, maybe Jesus made this parable thinking about this woman, In that parable a neighbour needs bread and by persistently knocking, receives it, the other verse is James 5:16, the second part, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” She kept asking and asking and asking, eventually Jesus answers her.
Before we go to the answer, lets look at how this applies to mothers around us. Yes, its true, my mother would ask tell me the same things over and over again, she would say If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times. But that is not the persistence I’m talking about. For my life, I became a follower of Jesus when I was 20, my mother was praying for my salvation for many years. She consistently believed God had a plan for me. When I got married, my mother told me she had been praying for my wife before I even knew Ronali. I am sure many mothers here have the same conviction and are spending the same amount of time if not more before God, on their children’s behalf, maybe praying about salvation, maybe about grades and future college options, maybe even about the response to the bully at school. There is a set of books, entitled “The Power of a praying …” by Stormie Omartian, while I may not agree on everything in those books, I do believe God’s Word, I also believe the love of a parent makes prayers become effective and fervent, and so I believe James 5:16, especially when a parent prays for their children. There may be barriers and obstacles, maybe anger, rebelliousness, communication issues, but like this un-named woman, she found a way through the obstacles and persistently called out to Jesus. This is what mothers do, and children, whether young or old should remember this and give back.
3. The Answer:
The Story continues with Jesus answering her, with a statement in verse 24-26:
“”I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered,“It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”” In Mark we see a little more leeway, verse 27, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”
He was opening a door after having told his disciples when He send them out only to go the Jews in Matt 10, His mission was not to the gentiles that task was for after the resurrection.
This mother instead of being offended at being called a dog, sees an opportunity to receive from Jesus a crumb of the bread offered to the Jews, and in so doing receives a commendation that not even the disciples received, in verse 28, “Great is your faith” and her child was delivered, and like the Centurion, without asking Jesus to come with her, she believes and is proven correct.
But she would never have received that commendation had she been proud and indignant, instead when Jesus gives His statement she says, “Yes Lord!” How often are we willing to go through trials or tribulations, even slander and say, “Not my will, but Your’s”, “Yes Lord!’ Then the response from Jesus, don’t we all want to hear that but not go through the process to prove that, to have great faith proved means going through something requiring great faith. I think becoming a steward of God’s Gift, our children, is one of those opportunities.
Our children are still very young, but already we see the need to trust God for their security, their health, and their very lives.
I continuous pray for both Justeen and Zoë that they would grow in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man. It does take faith, because there is only so much we can do, and as they grow older, their spheres of being influenced becomes greater and greater.
Parents are called to go through the difficulties and when they do they are to beg, plead, intercede to God on their children’s behalf.
Jesus’ answer to this woman, I think would be similar to many Mothers here, who have said, “Yes Lord.” To those who have said, my child may be going through something right now, but I choose to pray, to have faith, to believe Your Word. Jesus would answer, “Great is your Faith”
What are you asking God for regarding your children? Are you able to wait, to go through the trial, sometime that trial may last only a moment like in this woman’s case, but elsewhere we read about woman like Hannah, who waited and waited for years.
Continue saying, “Yes Lord”
I think being a mother is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding times of your lives. I’m going to ask if all the mothers in the church could stand, and if they could be prayed for by other church members, just for a few moments before I close in prayer.