A WOMAN OF FAITH (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 suffering terribly from demon possession'. 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 their dogs.' 'Yes Lord', she said, 'but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered her, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour."
This message is about a woman who had faith to believe for the impossible! She was a woman who was determined to press in and receive her blessing, despite all the hindrances that stood before her. 'No' was not an answer she was willing to accept, and as she persevered, she received all that she was seeking from the Lord.
In this passage, we see Jesus going into the Gentile territory of Tyre and Sidon, an area which is a part of modern day Lebanon. Because of the many miracles people had seen Him do, people flocked to the Lord Jesus wherever He went, and sought His Word and His touch. The same account in the Book of Mark chapter 7 says that Jesus entered a home discreetly, because He did not want the whole town to know He was there. But the Glory of God cannot be hidden - Jesus Himself said that you cannot light a lamp and hide it! People heard that He was in town, and began to find their way to where He was. In particular, we read about this lady, who's child was bound by a demonic spirit, and when she heard that Jesus was there, she began to run to the place where He was. She came to Him, and cried out, asking Him to help her and free her child from the spirit that was binding her.
We are told that this lady was someone from that area. She was not a Jew - she did not know that Jesus was the Messiah, or the Son of God; She and her family were going through great pain and suffering at the hands of the demon that was tormenting her child; they may have suffered many years. But I believe that in her spirit, she had the revelation that it was through Jesus, and only through Jesus that her child and her household would be set free. ('If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed' John 8:36 ).
When she came and knelt at the feet of Jesus, she was worshipping Him. When she called Him 'Lord' and 'Son of David', she was acknowledging His Lordship and supremacy over everything; she had an understanding that His was the name above every name; she was acknowledging that He was all powerful - more powerful than the demon binding her child, which she and her family must have struggled with for a long time. I am sure they had been to various spiritual 'teachers' looking for help. Perhaps they had paid vast sums of money and participated in various difficult rituals - simply because they had been willing to do anything just to see their precious child set free. They had suffered torment with her day and night, and as this mother struggled with the darkness that was more powerful than her, she must have cried out to the Heavens asking if there was someone out there who would hear her cry and grant them deliverance.
Now, close to the person of Jesus, she feels the anointing radiating out of His being; she senses the power and the holiness; she sees the authority in His eyes, and she knows from the depths of her being that at last she has come to the right place. Her search was over, and freedom was finally within sight. Sprawled out on the floor, she looks up at the face of Jesus and says 'Lord help me... help me...'!
It did not matter to her that the disciples of Jesus were trying to get rid of her, telling Jesus to send her away! It did not matter to her that Jesus Himself said that He was sent for the lost sheep of Israel. She had decided within herself that she was not going to stop crying out to the Lord, and she was not getting off her knees - until she had received the answer she was pleading for. Even when the Lord Jesus said to her that His first priority was the deliverance and salvation of the Jews, (the children's bread), she humbly said she was ready to receive whatever He was willing to give her (the crumbs from the master's table!) Faith moves the heart of God! Jesus commended her for her faith and told her what she had been longing to hear - that her cry had been heard and granted - and her daughter was healed from that moment! Compassion flowed from the heart of the Master as He saw her desperate need - that she wanted Jesus and no one else. He saw that she was serious about seeking Him, and that she would not allow anything to stop her believing and receiving. Jesus blessed her - her petition was granted when the Master intervened!
The lives of this family were surely transformed! The parents probably finally slept a night; and the child, who probably never knew health or strength because of the spirit that had bound her, now began to know a normal childhood - carefree, joyful, blessed by the Lord! The Lord Jesus touched their lives with His power, and completely turned everything around - and all because one person was desperate enough to humble herself before the Lord, hang on to a prayer , and believe until it came to pass!
This Scripture contains many strands of Truth which we can apply to our own lives. Anyone who has faced a long term problem would understand the heartache this mother experienced. Day in and day out you struggle for answers but nothing seems to change. Each time some new hope dawns because of some one or something that comes into your life and each time you think 'this is it, I am coming out of this, I am finally going to be free'! But then you feel like you are still back where you began! This lady had been through the motions many times - going to many people for help, spending money to get relief, and all the time, she was helpless as she saw her daughter bound and suffering, and her family suffered with her. For them it was a nightmare that never seemed to end. Then she heard about Jesus!
When this woman came to Jesus, she was desperate for His intervention in her life. Jews and Gentiles normally would have had no interaction in those times. But no worldly boundaries would keep her running to Jesus. People discouraged her and tried to push her away; even Jesus did not seem to want to help her, but she did not take offense or feel humiliated or rejected - she had come to Him for something, and she refused to leave without it! The disciples did not want her kneeling and petitioning Jesus, but nothing was going to stop her worshipping Jesus and claiming Him as Lord; she was pressing in, she was going to receive! She had no training in the faith, she had no knowledge about prayer or worship, but she followed her heart and came to a place of awesome revelation and receiving, a place of blessing; a place where the impossible becomes possible - it is the place of worship!
Friends, not only do we need to have faith for a miracle; we need to stay in faith! Many times in this little drama, this woman could have given up and let go of her hope. She was probably running behind (or alongside) Jesus for a while crying out for His help, even though (verse 23) Jesus did not answer a word! She could have given up at this point. Then when she continued to call Him and petition Him, (she 'kept crying' - verse 23) the disciples asked the Master to send her away. They did not know how to help her, and she was starting to irritate them! We read their words as recorded for us in the Bible, but what about their facial expressions? Or their body language - she could have taken exception to everything they did! After all, they were Jews and she was a Gentile! Many of us would have retired hurt at this point, offended that we were being treated badly! She perseveres; she hangs on despite the Lord Himself putting her off - she knew her time was at hand!
How persevering are we, Friends? How much are we allowing people and situations to hinder us from receiving the blessing that we are seeking? How much do we allow ourselves to take offence and get hurt and discouraged, and then stop pressing in to the good thing that God has for us? Today I want to encourage you to begin to see the bigger picture. Our hurts and embarassments seem very small in the light of the great work that God is seeking to do in our lives. I believe that the Lord Jesus knew all along what He would do for this woman of faith. I would like to think that she was the reason He was even in that Gentile territory; but He allowed her to call and run after Him; He allowed her to believe, to persist, to grow stronger in her faith; He allowed her to fall at His feet and worship, as she came to the point of realisation that truly He is Lord and King over everything! And as she stayed on her knees, determined to believe, no matter what, Jesus brought the breakthrough! The child was set free by the power of God!!
I believe God is calling us to higher ground today my friends. To a place where our faith and our walk with God is not hindered by anything or anyone. Our attitude should be that we will walk with Him and call on Him no matter what; that we will believe in His love and compassion, even when we don't see it in His disciples! That even when the going gets tough, and it is hard to worship, we will still worship Him for who He is , and seek Him in prayer. When we break through into that higher dimension of true worship, we encounter the awesome presence of God and feel the reality of His breath upon our being. This is the place where prayers are answered; in His presence, every need is met! He is our all in all!
My heart's prayer is that we will desperately long for Jesus and run after Him; that we will acknowledge His Lordship and worship Him; that we will keep praying until we see our deliverance; the powerful answer to a lifelong prayer, which only the Lord Jesus can bring! Be strengthened in your faith! Stay in faith! Be blessed in Him today!
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