Based on: Matthew 15:21-28
Have you ever had food so good that it you didn’t want to leave a single crumb on the plate? That’s how I felt about the cheesecake I would buy in the a little town called New York. That’s New York, Texas, not to that other New York on the East Coast. Every crumb of New York cheesecake was worth eating.
That is even more true about the food our Lord gives us to eat. Every crumb that falls from our Lord’s table is far better than even the best all you can eat buffet here on earth. As we look at this woman who said to her Lord, “I will take even the crumbs that fall from your table,” let us consider what request we want to bring before our God. Take a moment to think of one thing that you want ask of your Lord. Be sure that it is not a sinful request. Don’t ask God to bring harm on someone else, but think of something that you as a child of God want for yourself or for someone else. Perhaps it is the growth of your own faith or the spiritual growth of this church. If you struggle with what ask for, you can always look at the back of the bulletin for more ideas. I will give you a few moments to think about something pray for.
Now say to God, “Lord, I am willing to receive blessings from your hand, even if it is only the crumbs that fall from your table.” As we look at the interaction between Jesus and this Canaanite woman, let us see how we too can be persistent in our prayer and also know our place before God.
At the beginning of this section of scripture Matthew writes that Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. He didn’t necessarily go into those cities, but he was in that northwestern area of Israel that was perhaps of more out of the way place the then the area where most of the a Jews lived. We can see that Jesus is concerned with those smaller communities in Israel, not just the cities that you would find on the interstate. He is concerned about the small towns too, just like he is concerned about this community we call Sleepy Eye.
As Jesus travels, a woman comes to him showing the same determination that we have seen in other of God’s people. Just as Abraham continues to make his request to God on behalf of his nephew Lot, and as Jacob wrestled with God, this woman showed that same dogged determination and would not let go until she received the answer she wanted.
As Jesus travels in the area, this woman comes to him with her request, “Lord, son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” This woman is not a Jew. Why would she addressed Jesus as the son of David? By calling him the son of David, she recognizes that he is the Messiah. Perhaps she understands more clearly than many of the Jews at the time that this Messiah would be the Savior of the world and not just of the Jews. She understood that this Jesus is God walking on two legs, and not only was he going to rescue her from her sin, but he could also help her with this other problem too.
Remember that thing you’re going to pray for. Since the God has already done the work of removing Satan from your heart and placing himself their instead, do you think that what ever request you want to make is too difficult for him? It’s certainly is not.
At First Jesus ignores her. (Perhaps sometimes we feel like God is ignoring our prayer, but just like with this woman he has a good purpose in making us wait. ) The disciples tell Jesus to send her away. They wanted Jesus to give her what she wants so that she would stop bothering them. Their request is nice, but their motive is self-serving isn’t it. Whether their motives are good or not, Jesus basically tells them, “No, I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman hears this and will not take, “no” for answer. She comes to Jesus, bows down in front of him and says simply, “Lord, help me!” Jesus puts her off one more time, even more strongly than before, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” Ouch, that comment must hurt. It seems like such a definite and loud, “No.” But a child of God is not so easily discouraged, and a believer in prayer continues to check all the doors until he finds one that is open. This woman uses the picture that Jesus painted to say that there is still room for her request. Even though everything Jesus said was true, this woman says you can still give me what I am asking for, Jesus. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Have you ever seen a dog wait for crumbs to fall from the table? Our beagle for example, is so determined to get anything that falls from the table, he will sit there and watch until we are all done eating. We don’t have to worry about a five second rule or anything like that, because if anything does fall, it is gone before you have a chance to look down to see where it went. This woman is looking for crumbs to fall from her Saviors table. And she is certain they will come.
Finally Jesus gives an. Really it’s not that he gave then. He knew all along what he was going to do, but he waited in order to test her faith and make it even stronger. He also used her faith as an example for his disciples and for us. He sometimes does that with us as well. Think about that thing you were going to pray for. Don’t pray for it once and then give up if you don’t get an immediate response but continue to wrestle with God. Continue to pray until God gives you an answer, one way or another. That may take weeks or months or even years.
As you pray with determination and persistence like this Canaanite woman, ask God for those crumbs from his table while remembering your place, that is, remembering who you are and who He is.
What is the first thing we hear this woman say? “Lord, son of David.” This woman knew who Jesus was. She knew Jesus was her Savior. She knew just as we do that He is everything and we are nothing, that he is the master and we are servants. You would never hear the Pharisees address Jesus as she did.
In her initial address she recognizes that if she is going to get any help from him, it would only be because he is merciful. Then, as if she needs to show with her actions what she has already said with her words, she comes before Jesus and bows down to him. When you come to God with your request, recognize in your heart that it is only because of God’s mercy that you receive any good thing from him. If you want to physically get on your knees and bow your head, you can do that to. It’s not a bad idea.
This woman continues to show that she understands what her place is in relationship to Jesus even when Jesus, in essence, calls her a dog when he says, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Jesus was saying, “Why should I take what belongs to others and give it to someone like you?” She could have easily said, “Is one of us a dog here? I don’t need to be insulted like this.” And walked off. She could have argued with Jesus, “I’m not that bad.” But Christians know to trust in Christ even when he seems like an enemy. When you hear the law and you hear that you really are a sinner who deserves hell, then you know better than to say to yourself, “I’m really not that bad.” You know better than to argue with God or to disagree with what he says. Instead you say, “Yes Lord, I am a sinner and you know that is exactly the qualification I need to receive your forgiveness.”
This Canaanite woman accepted these harsh words from Jesus. She accepted that Jesus would compare her to a dog, but if she was going to be a dog at least she was his dog. She was willing to be a dog if it meant that she would receive some of the blessing from Christ, her Savior. Are we willing to see ourselves as a dog? When we recognize that we are completely unworthy of anything that he gives us, we are then in a position to receive the greatest of God’s blessings. Remember, if Christ calls us dogs then we are his dogs, and it is far better to be Christ’s dog then Satan’s equal. Even as we consider ourselves undeserving dogs, our heavenly Father lifts us up and makes us his children so that we eat at the table and not just the crumbs.
Until this time Jesus did not display very clearly his love and concern for her, but now he shows it. She is probably still bowing down in front of him as he tells her, “Your request is granted.” Now she can hurry back to her daughter and you can be sure that she was not surprised when she saw her daughter healed.
As we come to God with our requests, we are like dogs under the table, we do not deserve any good thing that we get from God, but Jesus Christ died on that cross so that we could be God’s children and not just dogs.
That thing you’re going to pray for, do you deserve it? If you are honest, you know that the answer is no. And God in Christ forgives us for the times we think otherwise.
Just like this Canaanite woman, ii is our need that drives us to Christ. We need him as our Savior. We need him for anything good that we want in this life. If only we receive the crumbs that fall from his table it would be more than we deserve, but instead he makes us his children and takes pleasure in our persistence.