Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL

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Great is Thy Faith

Matthew 15:21-28

 

 

Of all the verses in the Bible, I think v. 21 is close to the top of my list:

 

Matthew 15:21
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

 

Why?  You may ask.  Because itís the first time Jesus reaches out to a Gentile.  Now, how many here are Gentiles?  Check your license...call your mom, whatever you need to do!

 

It was prophesied that He would be rejected by His own, and would make this move, offering salvation to all of us, and arenít you glad He did?!

 

At first glance this is a difficult passage to understand, but if youíll do a little work for a few moments and really put your brain in gear I know youíll go away with a real blessing today.

 

Jesus answers this woman somewhat roughly, but He does that not to destroy her faith, but to develop it.  And her faith grew over the hours she pursued Him.  Her faith would not let go...it was a faith that wouldnít quit.

 

1.     The Agonizing Mother.

v. 22        Her child is demon possessed.  And no problem compares to a child problem.  Nothing grieves the heart of a parent like seeing their own child hurting.  When they hurt, you hurt.  Iíd rather be sick than see them sick.  And I hear from many whose children are away from God, and I canít imagine how much that must hurt.  You may not approve of what theyíre doing, and they may shame you at times, but they are still your kids and you canít stop loving them...itís a part of your very nature.

 

This mother is hurting to the core.  She is carrying the kind of burden you canít seem to get off your back.  You wake up and there it is.  You laugh at something funny, but then that burdensome feeling rebounds right back into your heart...it wonít go away!  But this woman did the right thing with her burden, she brought it to Jesus. 

 

It was out of her control, she wasnít able to fix it.  She might have said, ďitís out of my handsĒ, but no, she took the matter into her hands, placing them together in prayer, and cried out unto Jesus...and out of her hands flowed a prayer rooted in her heart and she did what she could for her little girl.

 

Iíve got a son with classic autism, and they say that makes him a special a special needs child...and another son at the other end of the spectrum with a high functioning disorder, a special need, and then thereís their sister, and you cannot be that gorgeous, that social, that verbal, and that spoiled without developing some special needs of your own!  Truly, all of your kids have special needs of their own, but I want you to know that no child is hopeless that has a praying mother / father.  Keep hoping for them, keep working on them, and most of all, keep on praying...itís not hopeless!

 

Ill.óa guy named John left home at 17 and joined the British Navy.  He became a drunk when he got out and got mixed up with pirates.  Before you know it he had become a slave trader who would sail to Africa.  They would gather up Africans and stick them in cages like animals and sell them as property.  But all the while his mother was praying for him.  She did her laundry on an old fashioned washboard with tears streaming down her face all the while praying, Oh God, save my John!

        Thru a series of circumstances the young man almost lost his life, and became a slave himself.  As a result of all of this he got saved, and John [Newton] wrote the words in our hymnal, Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound... [and all because of a praying mother]

 

The agonizing mother...

 

2.     The Amazing Master.

a.     His Silence.

v. 22-23a         No doubt some here have been crying out to God about something and it seems like Heís ignoring you.  Iíve prayed about some things and if I didnít know better Iíd think maybe God wasnít hearing me!  The heavens were silent!  But Godís delays are not Godís denials.  We live in a society where everything happens quickly, in an instant.  We want it now.  But our prayers are not just for the purpose of solving problems.  Godís ways are higher than that.  Thru the process Heís going to teach us some things about ourselves and about Him.  Heís going to stretch our faith at times, and letís be clear--it takes faith to still believe even when God seems silent.

 

23b          The disciples see Christís silence and turn the cold shoulder to her as well when she goes after them for help.

 

To understand Jesusí silence you have to look closely at the way she had approached Him...

v. 22        ďThou son of DavidĒ

Weíre in Gentile territory, and this is a Gentile woman.  She has never been to the temple or offered a sacrifice.  She is what you would call a pagan Gentile, and yet she approached Him on Jewish ground in addressing Him this way.  It was a Messianic term the Jews used for the One they were awaiting to come to them. 

 

The implication here is profound, because in essence Jesusí silence was saying, you donít have to approach me on Jewish ground.  You donít have to be a Jew to get to me.  Thatís a blessing to me because itís true for me and you as well!  ďThere is no difference!Ē  Every day a Jew awoke he thanked God for 3 things:  that he wasnít a slave, a woman, or a Gentile.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

She needed to realize that she didnít have to walk thru a Jewish door to get to Jesus.  And YOU need to realize you donít have to walk thru a Baptist door to get saved!  All you have to do is walk thru the sinnerís door and youíll find Jesus right there on the porch, w/ hand extended because Heís been waiting and knocking, hoping youíll come and let Him in!

 

        b.     His Statement.

v. 24        Remember back in Matthew 10 Jesus sent the disciples out and told them to only go to the Jews, but by chapter 28 weíll see Him sending them [and us] to go into all the world, to all nations.

 

Itís true, He came to the Jew first, but also to the Greek [Gentile].  Thereís a historical order to it all, and even the Apostle Paul, who wanted his countrymen saved so much he prayed that he could be damned to hell in their place, even he eventually accepted the fact that they had rejected, and he shook the dust off his feet and went to the Gentiles.

 

v. 25        Notice that she dropped the Jewish reference now.  She gets the point now, and is boldly approaching the Master for help, but Jesus isnít through stretching her.

 

v. 26        The Ďchildrení are the Jews, but hold on--Did He just call her a dog?  You say, that sounds rough [ruff!]  It was a word used of the Gentiles.  The original Greek word for Ďdogí usually used for the Gentiles means a scavenger, a stray, a mangy mutt that roamed the streets and alleys.  But Jesus here chooses a different word for Ďdog.í  He uses a diminutive form of the word that is a reference to a little pet house dog, a little puppy. 

 

Not only that, but I think something else was different.  You have to take the black ink off the flat white pages of your Bible and realize that anything that is said is in a certain voice inflection w/ certain body language and a certain countenance.  Based on the context here I believe that when Jesus said that to this woman He said it in such a way, w/ such a twinkle in His eye and such a smile on His face that she immediately caught what He was saying and understood where He was going with this.

 

The Gospel of Mark tells this same story and adds another interesting word.

Mark 7:27
But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

The word Ďfirstí implies there is a second.  Jesus has just cracked open a door of opportunity for her, and she rushes right in.

 

v. 27        She says, even the little house puppies catch the crumbs that fall to the floor.  She was willing to go anywhere, do anything, and humble herself as much as needed to get the help she was seeking.

 

Now, you may be seeking God in some area of your life, or for something important, and it may seem like God is silent, or like He isnít ready to answer your prayer, but are YOU ready?  Maybe youíre not ready for His answer until youíre willing to take any place and do anything that God wants you to do.  Maybe God is waiting for you to work without a net, to step out in faith, not just asking for your desired outcome, but asking for His will, even if itís something you never thought you could ever do!

 

She was willing to be referred to as one of the dogs, as long as she could make a new Ďbest friendí...and she was willing to accept crumbs, as long as itís from the Master.  And Iíd rather have the crumbs from Jesusí table than the delicacies from the devilís table!  But good newsówhen you come to Jesus you donít have to settle for crumbs...you are a child of the King and He pulls up a seat for you right beside Him, and all the bounty of His wonderful table are yours to enjoy!  But not until youíre willing to take whatever place God has set for you will you find Godís best for your life.

 

Herís was a faith that would not quit / let go.

 

Agonizing mother, Amazing Master...

 

3.     The Appealing Miracle.

v. 28        She was persistent in her plea, stubborn in her faith, and yielded in her heart, and the Lord granted her request.  Jesus said she had great faith.  What is great faith?  Itís a faith that lays hold on Christ and will not let go.

 

Great faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.  Jesus said to her, name it, and itís yours!

 

P.U.S.H. = Pray until something happens.  We need to get more pushy with our prayers!  She was a pushy woman!  My mom has been pushy ever since the day she pushed me out!  But thereís a real truth in the comparison between childbirth and prayer, because nothing is born without travail.  We must labor in prayer.

 

Ill.óThomas DeWitt Talmage was a contemporary of Spurgeon and Moody.  He preached 25 years at a Brooklyn Tabernacle to more than 5,000 people at a time.  His eloquence made him widely published, and Spurgeon said, ďnobody stirs my soul like TalmageĒ. 

        But you need to understand some background about Thomas.  His dadís name was David, and when he was just 18 he and his brother and sister were wild.  They loved to party.  But their invalid mother prayed for her 3 children every day.  She wouldnít quit praying.  One night David and his siblings were leaving the house for a party.  Their invalid mother called them to her bedroom.  She said I know what youíre planning to do, and I want you to know Iíll be praying for you the entire time.  They dismissed the comment, and when they got home at 2 AM they saw thru the cracked door she was there on her knees still, beside her bed.  They went on to bed.  A couple hours later the mother heard crying, and woke her husband who checked on the kids.  All of them were in different locations, the girl in her bedroom crying, David in the barn crying, the brother in a wagon shed, also crying.  All got saved in the wee hours of that morning.  David, who would one day father Thomas, went immediately to his girlfriendís house and told her how they had all got saved, and he led her to the Lord.  They later married and had Thomas.  She banded with 4 other ladies and they agreed to pray every Wednesday for all of their children until they all got saved, and that they did.  All got saved, some became missionaries, and Thomas became a great preacher who told this story of his invalid grandmother, with a faith that would not quit, and how she prayed that night at 10, then 11, to midnight, 1, 2, 3, 4 AM...until the mighty power of God fell on her household!

 

I donít know what you may be facing, but I sure know what you need...a faith that wonít let go!

 

 


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