Persistent in PrayerNovember 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
Tags: Christ the King, commentary on Matthew, dogs, Gentiles, Jesus Christ, King over all the earth, Matthew 15, Sunday School lessons on Matthew
In Matthew Chapter 15 we see Christ beginning to minister to the gentiles.
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
You may have heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” This expression may be even more accurate spiritually than physically. There is a sense in which what we become – spiritually speaking – depends upon what type of spiritual food we have been consuming, and how we’ve been feeding our hearts. Then, what comes out of our mouths shows what we really are, because it comes from of the heart.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
Tyre and Sidon were gentile lands.
And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
This woman was trying to show that she recognized Jesus’s divinity in the way that she addressed Him, even though she was not Jewish.
But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Jesus’s initial refusal to answer her was not an act of cruelty or a lack of compassion. He did this in order to give her faith an opportunity to grow. His disciples, though, were simply exasperated with her. “Give her what she wants so she’ll go away,” may have been their reasoning.
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
This woman had a desperate faith. She recognized Jesus as Lord over all – Jews and gentiles alike.
But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
This was possibly an ironic reference by Jesus to the practice that the Jewish people had of referring to gentiles as “dogs.” Jesus may have used the term for dog that denoted more affection – like a “pet dog” – to contrast the offensive way that Jewish people used the term.
And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
Here the woman demonstrated a mature faith: “I don’t want anything more than what Your will is for me.”
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
This statement commending someone’s “great faith” is reminiscent of His statement to the centurion from Matthew Chapter 8. The gentiles, during the Old Testament period, were “afar off,” but Jesus looked ahead to the time after His Crucifixion and Resurrection, when those gentiles who believed would – along with believing Jews – be one in Christ Jesus.
For this woman, it must have seemed like everything was against her. She was crying out boldly in public when it was not socially acceptable for a woman to do so. She was a gentile, seeking help from the Jewish King and Lord, surrounded by Jewish followers. And, at first, it even seemed as if the King Himself was against her. However, she was persistent in asking. Let that be a lesson to you and me to be persistent in prayer, even at times when it may seem like everything is against us.