Mat 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
Mat 15:22 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.”
Mat 15:23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
Mat 15:24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Mat 15:25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
Mat 15:26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Mat 15:27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Mat 15:28 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.
We know we can never EARN God’s grace and favor, but that does not mean that it is always easy to receive it. To EARN something implies that the price you pay makes you DESERVE what good thing you receive. God’s blessings such as forgiveness, salvation and deliverance are SO GREAT and VALUABLE that no price we can pay makes us DESERVE them. And if we are proud enough to think that our sacrifices make us DESERVE God’s favor, then God will resist that pride and frustrate us.
However, it is also true that at times we must “pay a price” to receive God’s grace and favor. This is because Jesus does not give Himself out cheaply, to the casual and uncommitted. Many times when we come to Jesus for something, our commitment and our genuineness WILL BE TESTED. We may be tested through TROUBLE, HARDSHIP, DELAYS and by other means. We may feel that Jesus is ignoring us and favoring everyone BUT us. These are some of the barriers we must push through.
Consider for a moment this Syro-Phoenician woman. She recognises Jesus as the Messiah (“Son of David”, she cries out). She calls out to Him in distress – not for her own direct need, but for the need of her daughter. This woman has strong maternal love. Yet, what is the response of Jesus? “He answered her not a word” (v23).
Have you ever been in pain, and cried out to Jesus for help, and sensed no response coming from Jesus? It sometimes happens. What do you do then? Do you give up in disgust? Do you complain? These would be the normal reactions.
But this woman is special. She just keeps on crying out to Jesus.
Jesus will not manifest his glory cheaply, casually. Almost everyone is sick with something or other these days, and how much more in the days Jesus walked on earth. Many were healed by Jesus, but many remained unhealed, such as the man healed at the temple gate through Peter and John in Acts 3. I wonder how many times Jesus had passed him by without healing him.
The woman keeps on crying out to Jesus. Now it gets worse. The disciples are getting irritated by this woman. They don’t like the disturbance she is causing. They ask Jesus to send her away.
How would you be if you, as an outsider to the ministry of Jesus, came to a church seeking healing or deliverance, and the church staff just got sick of you and made it clear to you that you were an embarrassment to them, that they wished you would just get lost? Most of us would be offended. Most of us would have been discouraged. Not this woman.
I expect those disciples were at the limit of their mental and emotional resources, and badly in need of a break. I don’t condemn them. I probably would have joined in with them, in similar circumstances. Without the grace of God, I am just as unloving and selfish as the rest, probably more so.
Does Jesus step in at this stage to offer mercy and deliverance? Shockingly, no. He says, “I was not sent except to the Lost Sheep of the Tribe of Israel”. In other words, “Lady, this is not for you. You are not of God’s chosen people. I wasn’t sent to help you.” How many of us would give up if God Himself told us that He had not come to help us. Others maybe, you, no. Many of us would find it too hard to bear.
The woman then throws herself at Jesus’ feet, worships Him, and cries out, “Lord, help me!”. This is persistence. This is humility. This woman has not taken offense. Instead she worships the Lord. She cries out for help again.
Again, Jesus is not encouraging. He says, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Jesus could be interpreted as saying, “Woman, you are just a little dog. You don’t have the same value as a Jew. It isn’t right to give you what what belongs to God’s people – (NOTE: Jesus is saying that healing and deliverance belong to God’s people – they are our normal food!).
The woman still doesn’t give up. She basically says, “Lord, all I need is the scraps that were going to be lost anyway. Maybe I am just a little dog. But even little dogs get the scraps”.
Jesus is moved. He says, “Woman, GREAT is your faith.” What a compliment. I don’t think its ever recorded in the gospels that Jesus said that to any of his disciples. But he says it to this woman – ONLY after she perseveres through all the discouragement that seems to come from God Himself, as well as God’s servants. Jesus then says, “Let it be to you as you desire”. That word was enough for the daughter to be healed.
We need Jesus to speak in our lives a word of healing, a word of deliverance, a word of provision, a word of assurance. But it does not always come easily. It certainly does not come cheaply. To get that precious word of deliverance, we may need to press through MANY DISCOURAGING CIRCUMSTANCES. The Lord is watching to see if we have that kind of great faith that moves mountains and brings God’s blessings even when it seems that God does not want to do it now. May God help us to believe. Amen.