September 03, 2017

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 56:1

                                      Isaiah 56:6-8

Gospel Lesson; Romans 11:13-15

                          Romans 11:28-32

Sermon Text; Matthew 15:21-28

The Word of God we focus on for today is taken from Matthew, chapter 15. These words are in our Savior, Jesus' name.

Jesus left that place and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. There a Canaanite woman from that territory came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! A demon is severely tormenting my daughter!”

But He did not answer her a word.

His disciples came and pleaded, “Send her away, because she keeps crying out after us.”

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

But she came and knelt in front of Him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

He answered her, “It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet the dogs also eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”

Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith is great! It will be done for you, just as you desire.”

And her daughter was healed at that very hour.

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


Our text for today begins by saying, “Jesus left that place...”. For the last number of weeks, we have been focused on Jesus' ministry, in northern Israel, around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is now leaving that place, and going farther north to Phoenicia, where two foreign towns were, Tyre and Sidon. They were unbelieving territories. It was Gentile territory. It is here that Jesus meets the needs of this Canaanite woman.

It is important for us to remember who salvation is for.

Salvation is more than just for the Jews.

Salvation is also for the Gentiles.

Consider our readings we heard earlier, from The Old Testament Lesson, and The Epistle Lesson, for today. Our Old Testament Lesson says,

“For my house will be called the house of prayer for

all peoples.”

That is Jews and Gentiles.

In our Epistle Lesson, the Apostle Paul says,

“I am speaking to you Gentiles”.

And so, salvation is for all, including this Canaanite woman who comes to Jesus. Now, we shouldn't be surprised by this, because earlier in the gospel of Matthew, it told us that word about Jesus had spread even to Syria, which is north of Tyre and Sidon! This woman had heard about who Jesus was, and she wanted to come to Him for help.

Before we get into our text for today, I want us to be reminded of what it is scripture says about how it is Jesus answers prayer. Scripture shares with us four ways Jesus answers prayer.

-He can answer, “Yes” to our prayer.

-He can answer, “No” to our prayer.

-He can ask us to be patient in our life of prayer.

-Or, He may give us something better than what we asked for.

It seems in our text for today, Jesus was answering, “No” to this Canaanite woman. But, as we hear the whole text, consider how it was Jesus answered her prayer.

At the beginning of our text, it says this Canaanite woman came, and she was “crying out”. The Greek verb here is an imperfect verb. That just means it is this continual action. She is keeping on crying out. She is crying out. She is crying out. She is crying out, continually to Jesus.

In the 1870's, there was a man who coined a poem that went like this, and this phrase is now stuck in our English vocabulary. Here is what he said in his poem.

I hate to be a kicker.

I always longed for peace.

But the wheel that squeaks the loudest

is the one that gets the...


That is where we get in our language: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” or “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

What was this Canaanite woman? She was “the squeaky wheel”. She was the one who was continuing to come after Jesus. She wasn't stopping.

A long time ago, (and this was back when Holy Cross was on Milwaukee Street), I was in the Narthex visiting with a parishioner from Holy Cross. My kids were young, and they were trying to get my attention. You know how kids do that. “Hey, Dad.” “Hey, Dad.” Hey, Dad!”

Well, I wasn't paying attention to them. I was continuing my conversation with this parishioner. But, they were continuing to come to me. And so, they changed what they were saying. Instead of saying, “Hey, Dad”, they said, “Hey, Pastor”. These are my kids! They couldn't get my attention, by saying ‘Hey, Dad’ so they continued on, and they changed what they said. “Hey, Pastor!” J

Well, this Canaanite woman was not going to be rebuffed. She kept coming to Jesus. She kept crying out to Him.

What did Jesus do? Our text says, “But He did not answer her a word.” It seemed like He was saying, “No” to her prayer.

But, she kept crying out. She was continuous.

Now, here is where the disciples go to Jesus and say, “Jesus, she is annoying. She is just a bother. Just send her away!”

Jesus didn't respond to her, but Jesus said this to the disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” With His response, it seemed like He was saying, “No” a second time to her prayer. “I only came for the lost sheep of Israel.”

But, she continued on, once again. She fell at her knees, and simply said to Jesus, “Lord, help me.”

Earlier she had asked for mercy from Jesus. She said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.” She was calling Jesus, “Lord, the Master Teacher”. She was recognizing He was the fulfillment of The Old Testament Messiah. He was the Son of David. Now, in her continuous action before Him, she fell on her knees and said, “Lord help me.”

In our English, it is translated as 'knelt', but the Greek word here actually means 'worship'. So, she was 'kneeling in worship', before Jesus to the One who could help her.

What was her need? Her need wasn't for herself. Her need for another person. It was her daughter who was possessed by a demon.

Now, if you have a child who has a cold, you can give them cold medicine. If your child is not feeling well, you can comfort them. You can give them soup. You can even take them to the doctor, if you need to. But, what do you do if your child is demon possessed? There was nothing she could do. She went to the only person who could help her. She went to Jesus. Falling on her knees in worship she said, “Lord help me.”

It seems like Jesus, in His answer, rebuffs her a third time, when He says, “It is not good to take the children's bread, and throw it to their dogs.” It seemed like He was saying, “No”, once again, to what her prayer was.

But, she grabbed on to something Jesus said, and the word for 'dog' that Jesus was using was not the normal word for 'dog'. Sometimes the Jewish people had a derogatory negative word they used for the Gentiles, in calling them 'dogs'. The Greek word here that Jesus uses is, 'kunarius'. That means 'little dog', 'little house dog'.

So, to understand this, I need your help. Raise your hand, if you have a 'dog', 'a house dog' at your home. Do you have a dog that spends some time in your house?

Raise your hand, if your dog eats some of the food that accidentally falls off of the table, or accidentally falls off the kitchen counter top. Your dog eats some of the food that accidentally falls off of the table, and counter tops.

Now, raise your hand, if when you are eating a meal, your dog comes up to you, nozzles you on the lap a little bit, and you, on purpose, take some food from the table, or you take some food from the counter top, and you feed it to your dog. Raise your hand.

That is what is happening here. This Canaanite woman is this 'little dog'. She is continuously coming before Jesus, until she receives Jesus' grace, and Jesus' mercy. She is a beggar. She clung to what Jesus said, in calling her a 'little dog'. She said, “Even the dog eats the crumbs that fall from the master's table.” She was a beggar, and as a beggar, she remained there, until she received God's grace, and until she received mercy from Jesus.

This morning's text is a reminder to us that we are the 'Canaanite woman'. Just as she was a beggar before Jesus, we also are beggars. We are beggars before Jesus, because of our sin. There is nothing we have to offer to Him. And yet, in our lives, we think maybe at times we have 'bargaining chips', and we can bargain with God, and bargain with Jesus. We may say something like this. “Jesus, if you do this for me, I will attend church more faithfully.” Or, “Jesus if you do this for me, then I will be more active on a board, or committee at church.” “Jesus, if you do this for me, then I will do this for you in return.”

We have no 'bargaining chips' before God. We have no 'bargaining chips' before Jesus. We are all beggars, because of our sin.

Notice how it was Jesus responded to this Canaanite woman, this beggar. He met her right where she was. He met her right where she was, and her daughter was healed at that very hour, that very moment! She had cried out continually.

How was it Jesus answered her prayer? He didn't say, No. It appeared that way at first. But, at first He asked her to be patient, and then Jesus answered her prayer by healing her daughter, at that very hour.

Today's text is also a good reminder to me, and may it be a good reminder to all of us of how it is we deal with other people and their needs. I am going to admit to you this morning that there are times in my life when I deal with other people's needs just like the disciples. “Lord, send them away. I don't have time for this. Those people are annoying.” I need to tell you I am guilty of that. There was a man who came, and needed a little help. He needed some gas. I was thinking to myself, “Lord, I don't have the time for this. I don't have the time, so send them away. I have better things to do.” Sometimes, do we, as God's people, treat other people who have a need in the same way?

But again, look to how it was Jesus met the needs of this Canaanite woman. Tyre and Sidon were probably fifty miles away from the region Jesus had left. Jesus traveled fifty miles to meet the needs of this Canaanite woman.

How far has Jesus traveled to meet your needs? The answer to this question is not miles. But, the answer to this question is Jesus traversed the whole distance.

Jesus traveled the whole distance to meet your needs.

He traveled the whole distance by His birth. He traveled the whole distance by His life. He traveled the whole distance by His death. He traveled the whole distance by His resurrection. Jesus met your needs, and He met my needs, not by our taking a step closer to Him, but by His traversing the whole distance to us. Jesus met our needs, the beggars that we are, by forgiving us of our sin, by His death on the cross, and by giving us everlasting life with Him in Heaven.

God's grace is yours, and Jesus has given His mercy to you, and me.

So what now is our response to receiving God's grace. What now is our response to receiving the mercy from Jesus. Well, consider this Canaanite woman. Her action was continuous, wasn't it? She kept continuing to come before Jesus in prayer. That is what the scripture tells us to do, too.

“Pray without ceasing”,

as 1 Thessalonians says.

There are so many things we can come before the Lord in prayer with.

-Consider our baptismal party this morning. We can come before the Lord in prayer asking this girl to stay in her faith in Jesus, as her Savior, all the days of her life.

-Maybe you know somebody who is getting married. We can pray that Jesus is the center of their marriage, all the days of their lives.

-Or, maybe you know somebody who is sick, or in the hospital. We can continually come before the Lord in prayer for them.

-Or, for our future worship center, which we will put the shovel in the ground for, in just a few weeks.

So many things we can continually come before the Lord with.

Today is an inspiration. As an example, we saw this Canaanite woman who continually came before Jesus in prayer. But, we especially see God's grace, and mercy in her life. Today, we too, are thankful we have received God's grace, and Jesus' mercy has been extended to us with forgiveness, and eternal life in Heaven.