Matthew 15:21-28 – Following Christ Hinges On Your Answer to One Question

Posted: January 9, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 15:21-28 (Part 3)
Jesus Sends a Demon Out of a Girl

Yesterday, we talked about Jesus’ testing of this woman to see how badly she wanted to be part of God’s people. Jesus even went as far as referring to her and the people from which she was descended as dogs. Dogs was a term the Jews commonly applied to non-Jewish pagan cultures because they considered them no more worthy than dogs to receive God’s blessings. Pretty strong words.

It kind of reminds me of being a football player back in high school. The coaches would treat us like crap, make condescending remarks about our football abilities and about our manhood. They did these things to make us tough and to see how badly we wanted to play football. They wanted to see whether or not when we got in the heat of battle in football games whether we had what it takes to reach down to your inner guts and push on through pain, push on when defeat seemed a certainty, push on because there is honor in playing your hardest all the time no matter what the score on the scoreboard says. They wanted to see how much we loved the game. They wanted to see if we were willing to submit our egos to the good of the team. They wanted to see if we were willing to submit to their leadership and push our needs to the side. I always tell my wife that “football is life” and when done right it can teach you a lot about the things I just said. I think that was the kind of test that Jesus was putting this woman through as we discussed yesterday. How bad do ya want it? We all know of times that we have had to humble ourselves to accomplish something we want. Let us read how this mother reacts to Jesus’ comment as we revisit and re-read Matthew 15:21-28:

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Jesus used the term of derision that the Jews used for non-Jewish pagan cultures when He responded to her request for help. Jesus’ response seems kind of harsh and hard to us with our “everybody get along” 21st politically correct attitudes. But, let’s consider that Jesus is not degrading this woman but seeing how far she was willing to go to receive God’s blessing. Her response is amazing.
She did not care if Jesus called her a dog. She was willing to accept that if that was what it took to get healing for her daughter. How much do you love your child or children? Many of us parents out there can relate to this. We are often wiling to do whatever it takes to make sure our kids are provided for. If it means working a second job working shoveling slop in a pig sty, we will do that. This mother is the same. Call me a dog just please heal my daughter. It goes beyond just being willing to be called anything to get something for her child, she first had to believe that Jesus had the power to make it happen. So, what we see here is first faith that Jesus is who He says He is and second her willingness to subject herself to all humbling to access the Master.

The story of the Canaanite woman is a picture of how to overcome all things that we have or presently lack and poses a great faith. Because this woman was a Canaanite, “of the Syrophoenician race” (Mark 7:26), she was probably a worshiper of Astarte and other pagan deities that were popular in that region. The fact that she came to Jesus, a Jewish teacher and healer, indicates she was disillusioned with the idolatry and immoral debauchery that characterized her religion. In turning to Jesus, she turned from the way of Satan and sin to the way of God, and that is the essence of repentance. She had faith that this Jesus guy was the real deal, that He was the earthly representation of whomever the God of the universe might be. She was willing to humble herself and go after it. She most likely had heard of the Messiah’s great power and great goodness; and she treated Him with both dignity and expectancy. Although she did not yet understand the full meaning of Christ’s lordship or messiahship, she came with a sense of awe and wonder. To be a person of great faith does not mean that we have figured out everything there is to know about God. It means that we know and have a relationship with Him. It means that we have faith in Him like a child in their parent. We may not understand everything we need to know at first but we have faith that Jesus is the changer of lives, that Jesus is the Healer, that Jesus is who He says He is – the Son of God.

Sure, as we mature in Christ, we want to learn more and we should learn more about our faith and how it works and how it all comes together into a cohesive theology. But really it is quite a simple religion, Christianity is. Do you have the faith to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God in the flesh, God came down from heaven to live among us? That is the simple test of our faith. Do you believe that or not? You can skip to learning as much as you can about our faith and its theology but you have to answer this one simple question? Do you believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God? That is it. Everything else is really meaningless if we cannot answer that question in the affirmative. When we can humble ourselves to believe that He is the Son of God, that He is not just one of many choices that we can make, then, we have faith.

When we see Jesus as just another option or one of the multiple highways to heaven, then, we are in control still. We are own gods in a sense. However, when we see Jesus as God Himself, it means that the coin is flipped. There is no other way to heaven than through Jesus. He said it Himself. There is no other way. We must submit ourselves to Him. No longer am I the one controlling how and what I believe if Jesus is the only way, if Jesus is God. We must humbly come before Him and say Lord, please help me for I am a sinner not worthy of the scraps from your table, but I believe you are God in the flesh and I believe that you can heal me and redeem me for you are the only one with the power to do so. That’s all we have to know with certainty when we get to Jesus’ feet on the day of our salvation. We must know and accept that He is the only way, that He is God in the flesh. That is the faith that is necessary just as the Canaanite woman had. She didn’t know or understand it all but she did believe that Jesus was the only one who could help her and she humbled herself before Him as a result.

What is your position on this Jesus Christ? Do you believe that He is one of the many ways to heaven? Do you believe that you are in control of what you choose to believe and take pieces of all the great religions of the world so that it all fits perfectly with your lifestyle? Do you believe that if you just do more good than bad that you will get to heaven? And we all down to the 7,000,000,000th human on earth believe in the afterlife that has rewards for good people and punishment for bad people. God has wired us that way. But how do we get to the place for good people? Have you ever considered that only one drop of kool-aid concentrate when sprayed into a glass of water changes the content and color of the water permanently? That is the way sin is for us with our first sin. We are changed from perfection to imperfection immediately. If we are to be in the presence of God in eternity we must have the same perfection that He has to exist there with Him. Thus, our first sin disqualifies us immediately from existing in heaven with Him in eternity not to mention the lifetime of sins of thought and deed that we commit. All those who are disqualified then are condemned to an eternity in Hell, separated from God.

What we believe as Christ followers is that Jesus, as God in the flesh, broke into human history and came to live the sinless and perfect life and then offer Himself as a sacrifice to God for all the sins of each one of us. Because God said that this was why He came to earth in the flesh as Jesus, it means that He, Jesus, took the punishment for sin that we deserved and that we are made clean through our belief in Jesus Christ as the one and only way that we can be reconciled, made clean of our sin stains, before God. No other belief will get you there. No doing more good than bad. No worshiping anything else. Just one way. It is believing that Jesus is the Son of God. Man, that takes some humility to say that we are not in control and that in Jesus is our only hope.

That’s the faith of the Canaanite woman. She was willing to humble herself before the Lord and say You are the One. You are the only one who can help me. She did not understand being a Christ follower that day and what all the theology means or how it all fits neatly and tightly together. But she did believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was the only way. That’s the great faith that begins our journey as Christ followers. We are not Christ followers without this faith. It all starts there. It all begins there. Our life is changed by that very moment. That is the crux of our faith. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That’s really it. It’s that simple. Without THAT, you are not a Christ follower. What do you believe today? Where do you stand on this Jesus thing? He waits for your humbling answer. Are you willing to humble yourself before the Messiah?
Amen and Amen.

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