Good morning STC Sheffield.
Welcome to a brand-new week of the STC Daily Podcast!
You may have been expecting to carry on where Helen left off in Matthew 13, where Jesus was telling some of his amazing parables to his disciples. However, in a quick change to our usual scheduled programming, we have had to advance on to Matthew 15, due to staff absence. We’re sorry about this and don’t worry we will revisit what we have missed.
I’m Luke – I work on the staff team at STC and I am delighted to be able to share with you what I believe God is saying to us at this time through his word. The passage for today’s thought (which is read out at the end) is Matthew 15:21-28, on the Faith of a Canaanite woman. Before we get to that let me ask you …
Have you ever felt desperate? Do you feel desperate now?
As the nation and the NHS were locked down – did you suffer from the anguish of anxiety and the black dog of depression? Do you or a loved one have an underlying health condition that is not being treated at the moment?
As the nation has dived into a recession – have your finances taken a turn for the worse? Are you one of the multitudes to have lost a job?
As over 40,000 people have lost their lives to this terrible virus – have you lost someone you love?
I want to let you know that if you are feeling like this … I’m with you … I’ve felt desperate … I know your pain – at least in a small way.
My wife and I have been trying for a family for close to 4 years now. It’s been test after test with no explanation, medication after medication without any progress and heartbreak after heartbreak as those we love have the families we dream of. Frankly, it’s also been prayer after prayer seemingly coming back empty!
I know what you’re thinking … this guy really needs a hug or some Prozac.
Let me and the Canaanite woman encourage you then … Jesus can answer, will answer and is the answer. Today’s passage shows what desperation + faith looks like.
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Two details here. This woman was full of faith and recognising Jesus as, the Messiah, the only one that could make a difference for her daughter, and approached Jesus for her miracle. She does this before the disciples – Peter only manages it in the next chapter.
She was so full of courage. For some context, in first century culture, women and Canaanites weren’t exactly esteemed company for a Rabbi and his followers. Put the two together – double trouble! She smashed a few glass ceilings in approaching Jesus in this way. A modern-day Michelle Obama!
Jesus did not answer a word. So, his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
Jesus doesn’t always give us a reply straight away, even to a cry of grief, and sometimes it’s not what we want to hear – a no or not yet (e.g. Jesus response about Israel). This woman shows great persistence – she ignores the haters (the disciples), doubles down and changes her posture to one of submission before the Lord of mercy.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”. “Yes, it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Again, Jesus gives a no or not yet statement, stating that his miracles are for the Jewish people. Dogs here is not a derogatory term – it is just a colloquialism for not Jewish – who have a special place in God’s redemption plan. If it was me with my short temper and blunt Derbyshire way of things, I’d have barked back at Jesus by now but she remains remarkably self-controlled in the face of opposition.
The woman again responded with great faith. She remained humble and admitted her low position, and asked for mercy in spite of it. She did not demand to be seen as a child; but only to be blessed as a dog. She remained resolute and would not stop fighting for her miracle until God blesses her. What an example she is to us all!
Are you desperate for a breakthrough from Jesus?
Do you need some money to get you through to the end of the month? Are you asking for God to heal you? To save a life of loved one? Are you wanting to start a family?
Let me say from the example of this wonderful Canaanite woman and my experience journeying through desperation can I encourage you… to keep the faith, have courage, be persistent in prayer, hold your ground be humble and keep fighting. The breakthrough is coming!
Lord Jesus, thank you for this great example of faith, amidst a desperation to end the suffering of another. Help us to have the courage to stand our ground through the rough times and to be persistent in prayer knowing that you are the Messiah and will come through for us. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 15:21-28
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’
He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’
The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said.
He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’
‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’
Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment.