Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
But He answered her not a word.
And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
But He answered and said, “ I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
But He answered and said, “ It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Matt 15:21-28
Yesterday we set the scene for this, the story of the Syro-Phonecean woman. The woman who came to Jesus for her daughter to be healed. The woman who Jesus plain ignored! WOW.
Imagine the scene today. It is the end of the church service. As the minister dismisses the congregation a woman comes to him asking for prayer. Instead of stopping to talk to her he just walks off to the back door to see the people out. She follows, asking him all the while for prayer. He completely blanks her, almost as if he doesn’t see her.
One of the ushers comes up and says to him, “Can’t you make her go away, she is driving the rest of us mad with her asking for prayer?” Finally the minister looks at the woman. “Look, I only pray for my regular congregation so go away!” She keeps begging. “But please! I need you to pray for my little girl, please.”
“I told you” he replies, “Prayers first for the congregation only, they pay me so they get me!” Quick as a flash she responds, “but even you have a moment’s downtime when someone could get a second of your time. That’s all I want…”
“Do you know what? You are right. I have heard you begging. I am declaring health for your daughter now. Go on! She will be healed when you get back to her,”
What minister would get away with this? I can read the local newspaper headlines now. ‘Minister blanks woman as she asks for prayer.’ ‘Knock knock knocking on heaven’s door – but it wouldn’t open.’ ‘Prayers for cash scandal as minister refused to pray for church visitor.’
Can you imagine the elders meeting? Is it true that you refused to pray for someone? In fact is it true that not only did you refuse to pray for them but you refused to speak to them all together?
This is exactly what Jesus did though, so why? Firstly, it isn’t that the woman simply wasn’t a Jew. What she was, would have been a pagan idol worshipper. The whole region was turned towards the ritualistic religion of idol worship. She wasn’t simply a non-Jew. She was an anti-Jew. The question begs to be asked, “where did the demon in her daughter come from?” Perhaps her own lifestyle?
For her to come to Jesus was like saying, “well I’ve done all I can in my strength. I have heard you are pretty good so come on then, show us what you’ve got.” You see she used the term, “Son of David” That was a really Jewish term. It didn’t mean anything to her.
She had heard how people spoke to Jesus so thought she would speak to Him that way too. There was no understanding or relationship in what she was saying. It would be like an atheist asking if I can pray for them by saying. “ I’ve heard it works sometimes. So go on, knock yourself out with it. Show me what your god can do if you’re up to it.” That is not going to be the most effective prayer is it!
The woman had an understanding that apparently Jesus could do these things but she wasn’t asking from faith. She could have left at that point. Many do. “Ignorant Christians. Won’t even pray for me. Fine! Tried it once and it didn’t work. Don’t talk to me about religion again!” But this lady persisted. Her daughter’s illness was greater than her personal agenda.
She cried out more and more. Life and death is in the power of the tongue. As she was proclaiming her desire for Jesus to act the power of her words started to have an effect. Faith comes by hearing. She could hear herself declaring Jesus as Lord. A faith started to build. She was calling things that were not as though they were. She was talking herself into the Kingdom.
It says that after the disciples had got involved that, “then she came and worshiped Him.” Then. Not at the start. She didn’t come in worship. She came to see Jesus perform and He wasn’t having any of it. But then she came to worship. Her heart softening, her expectation raising.
He throws another obstacle up. Not because He doesn’t want to heal her. Not because He wants to chase her away. Completely the opposite. He wants her to rise above it. The rich young ruler came to Jesus and said what do I need to do. Jesus gave him an answer and he said that he had done all that. So Jesus raised the bar. Sell your possessions. Get rid of your wealth. That was too much for the ruler and he walked away. Jesus loved him and let him go.
Here it is the same. Jesus sees the woman has softened. She is now here not to demand a miracle from some traveling sideshow. Now she is on her knees worshipping. Jesus wants to raise the bar, one more time, and up she reaches.
He must have smiled. His compassion must have just been tangible. Sometimes we talk about the presence of God. Well He was all over this in love, power and joy. “Great is your faith” He declares. “You have turned it around” He declares. “You are now looking to the kingdom of God in true worship not the kingdom of darkness and some false god. Your daughter is better” He tells her.
Jesus wasn’t interested in half conversions. He wasn’t interested in people coming to Him on their terms. It was all in, on your knees in worship or not at all. Jesus didn’t chase after people. People chased after Him. Perhaps in our lives today, we have got so self centred that we think that we are doing Jesus a favour by getting saved.
We come to Him in control. Like the rich young ruler we tick the boxes to show that we are doing alright. However, unlike Jesus, the church when we do this welcomes us in. We should be more like the woman here and Jesus’ response to her.
Do you want salvation, a miracle or healing? Then come to Jesus on His terms, in worship and in faith. Let’s stop this Jesus is big enough to accept us with this fault or that lifestyle choice. No He is not. Jesus will accept us 100% when we accept Him 100%. what He won’t do is share us with our ungodly lifestyles and expectations.
It is not OK to think, “oh well, I tried, but I am just a sinner so God will understand.” That is cheap grace. Yes God does love you. Yes, in Christ you are the righteousness of God. Yes, you are forgiven. Yes you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Yes, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. But no, it’s not right to think that because all this is the case you don’t have to go all in for Him.
You do. Loving, kind, compassionate, came-to-save-us-all Jesus, was ignoring that woman and would have let her walk on, unless she turned to Him completely in submission and worship and faith. What is your position before Him today?
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