Great is Thy Faith
Of all the verses in the Bible, I think v. 21 is close to the top of my list:
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
Why? You may ask. Because it’s the first time Jesus reaches out to a Gentile. Now, how many here are Gentiles? Check your license...call your mom, your Mohel [Moyle], 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 aren’t you glad He did?
Roses are red, violets are bluish.
If not for Jesus, we all might be Jewish!
At first glance this is a difficult passage to understand, but if you’ll do a little work for a few moments and really put your brain in gear I know you’ll 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 wouldn’t 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. I’d rather be sick than see them sick. And I hear from many whose children are away from God, and I can’t imagine how much that must hurt. You may not approve of what they’re doing, and they may shame you at times, but they are still your kids and you can’t stop loving them...it’s a part of your very nature.
This mother is hurting to the core. She is carrying the kind of burden you can’t 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 won’t go away! But this woman did the right thing with her burden, she brought it to Jesus.
It was out of her control, she wasn’t able to fix it. She might have said, “It’s out of my hands”, but no, she took the matter into her hands, placing those hands together in prayer, and cried out unto Jesus...and out flowed a prayer rooted in her heart and she did what she could for her little girl.
I’ve got a son with classic autism, and they say that makes him a special needs child...and another son at the other end of the spectrum with a high functioning disorder, a special need, and then there’s 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...it’s not hopeless!
Ill.—a 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 He’s ignoring you. I’ve prayed about some things and if I didn’t know better I’d think maybe God wasn’t hearing me! The heavens were silent! But God’s delays are not God’s 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. God’s ways are higher than that. Thru the process He’s going to teach us some things about ourselves and about Him. He’s going to stretch our faith at times, and let’s be clear--it takes faith to still believe even when God seems silent.
23b The disciples see Christ’s silence and turn the cold shoulder to her as well when she goes after them for help.
To understand Jesus’ silence you have to look closely at the way she had approached Him...
v. 22 “Thou son of David”
We’re 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, 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 Jesus’ silence was saying, you don’t have to approach me on Jewish ground. You don’t have to be a Jew to get to me. That’s a blessing to me because it’s true for me and you as well! “There is no difference!” Every day a Jew awoke he thanked God for 3 things: that he wasn’t a slave, a woman, or a Gentile.
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 didn’t have to walk thru a Jewish door to get to Jesus. And YOU need to realize you don’t have to walk thru a Baptist door to get saved! All you have to do is walk thru the sinner’s door and you’ll find Jesus right there on the porch, w/ hand extended because He’s been waiting and knocking, hoping you’ll 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 we’ll see Him sending them [and us] to go into all the world, to all nations.
It’s true, He came to the Jew first, but also to the Greek [Gentile]. There’s 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 isn’t through stretching her.
v. 26 The ‘children’ 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 ‘dog’ 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 ‘dog.’ 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.
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 ‘first’ 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 isn’t ready to answer your prayer, but are YOU ready? Maybe you’re not ready for His answer until you’re 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 it’s 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 ‘best friend’...and she was willing to accept crumbs, as long as it’s from the Master. And I’d rather have the crumbs from Jesus’ table than the delicacies from the devil’s table! But good news—when you come to Jesus you don’t 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 you’re willing to take whatever place God has set for you will you find God’s best for your life.
Her’s 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? It’s 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 it’s 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 I was born! But there’s a real truth in the comparison between childbirth and prayer, because nothing is born without travail. We must labor in prayer.
Ill.—Thomas 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, “Nobody stirs my soul like Talmage”.
But you need to understand some background about Thomas. His dad’s 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 wouldn’t 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 you’re planning to do, and I want you to know I’ll 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 girlfriend’s 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 don’t know what you may be facing, but I sure know what you need...a faith that won’t let go!
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