Here is the message that I gave at Turning Point: KooWeeRup. This is a message of hope that no matter what it is that you are going through Our God is more than enough for you.
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.
Let’s get a quick overview of the first 20 verses of this chapter and look at how this story sits in this chapter’s narrative.
At the start of chapter 15, some of the Pharisees and Scribes ask Jesus why He doesn’t require His disciples to follow the traditions of cleansing established by the Israelite elders.
Jesus is frustrated by the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees. Basically, Jesus calls these men hypocrites, stating ‘For the sake of tradition you have made the word of God void!’ He then quotes from the prophet Isaiah ‘This people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
The Pharisees were offended, and the disciples let Jesus know the men were offended. To which Jesus tells the disciples that these Pharisees and teachers of the law think they have sight, but they are blind. These Pharisees thought they knew it all. The thought Jesus should appreciate how they lived and who they were. But Jesus actually thought they didn’t know anything, and He didn’t appreciate what they were doing because they were leading people astray. They honoured God with their lips but not their hearts.
The greatest hindrance to the faith of the Pharisees was that they thought that they deserved peoples respect and the love of God. It’s not about deserving it, it’s not about our own righteousness. It’s about the grace and mercy of God. God loves us even though we don’t deserve it. Eph 2:8-9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Now we start to see something in contrast to this situation with the Pharisees. Jesus withdraws from the opposition of the Pharisees in Galilee and moves into the Gentile communities of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus and His disciples are now in pagan territory. While there, Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman (or Syrophoenician woman) who needs help.
By stating that she is Canaanite, the author is acknowledging her ancestry. She was a descendant from Israel’s ancient enemies. Let’s look at how this woman, who appears to be an enemy of God responds to Jesus.
The Woman Makes a Petition
News has spread far and wide about Jesus and the miracles he was performing. This woman would have been more familiar with the pagan god Eshmun, the pagan god of healing. But she goes to Jesus, declaring ‘Lord, son of David.’
Now, we need to understand that she is not acknowledging Jesus’ divinity. She is purely saying ‘You are a teacher from the line of David.’ But also trying to show some familiarity and knowledge of who He is.
What does Jesus do? He ignores her.
How many times, when we need help, do we give up when we feel like God is silent? We present our case or petition, we don’t here yes or no, but we give up.
We need to petition God, but not leave it there.
The Woman is Persistent
The woman keeps crying out. She keeps hassling Jesus and His disciples. It gets so bad that the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him to do whatever it takes to get rid of this woman. Jesus answers the disciples, within earshot of the women, saying that His focus at this point was to minister to the Jewish nation.
This does not put the women off. She now falls at the feet of Jesus. Her persistence drove her to her knees at the feet of Jesus.
If we give up and don’t persist, then we will probably never find ourselves at the feet of Jesus.
We make our petition known, but never persist long enough to get to His feet. When we get to His feet, it does two things. It shows humility and dependence, which gets the attention of Jesus. Do you need the attention of Jesus? Get to His feet.
The Woman touches the heart
Now the whole situation changes. The woman is now communicating directly to Jesus. ‘LORD help me!’ she cries.
Jesus now uses an interesting analogy. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Jews would insult gentile people by referring to them as dogs. The word kuon depicted a wild, homeless scavenger dog who fed off others. But that is not what Jesus says to this woman. He uses a much more affectionate term. Kynarion means little puppy or domestic dog. Jesus is saying “I am not against you, but I must tend to the children first.”
The response of the woman is so profound that it touches the heart of Jesus. ‘Can’t I even have some of the crumbs that fall from the table?’ We can only imagine how that response of faith warmed the heart of Jesus. Having dealt with these Pharisees and Scribes, seeing that they had all the knowledge yet having no faith and relationship with God. Now He comes into the land of pagans and he witnesses such faith. Look at the response of Jesus “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.”
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the business of our own lives and we start to think ‘God can’t possibly help me.’ The reality is that it only takes a crumb from God to change your situation.
We all have struggles, some physical, some emotional and some spiritual. It’s in these times that we need to petition, persist and speak to the heart of God. Because for you to receive healing for your situation, all you need is the crumb.
Maybe you feel like you’re struggling physically, emotionally or spiritually. Maybe you even feel like it is too much for God. Let me encourage you. You may not need God to lift every burden, just the heaviest ones. You may not need Him to move every mountain, just the highest ones. You don’t need God to give you the whole loaf, just a crumb.
Regardless of what you are facing in your life today, the answer will be found in Him! He can move your mountain; Meet your need; save your soul; forgive your sins; touch your loved ones; heal your body.
Bring it to Jesus who cares. 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you.
In faith, hope and love
Steve and Cass Abram