INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: Jesus seems to treat this woman shamefully.))
What in the world is Jesus doing? Is this really the Jesus we know and love? Did you hear the Gospel lesson? Jesus doesn’t act “Jesus like” at all. He’s not the cute and cuddly Jesus of Facebook memes or bumper stickers. We’ve got our ideas about who Jesus is, what He’s supposed to do, and how He’s supposed to act.
He’s not supposed to be rude, but that’s exactly how our Gospel account starts! He seems to treat this woman shamefully. She calls out to him for help—not for herself but her daughter. “But he did not answer her a word.” It get’s worse. “Send her away, Jesus,” the disciples beg Him, “She keeps crying out after us.” He answers, talking about her not to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” That’s the Jews. She’s no Jew. She’s some Canaanite woman—an outsider. She gets down on her knees, and begs: “Lord, help me.” Then, after ignoring her, Jesus insults her: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
((4. Ugh!: Jesus seems to treat us shamefully, too.))
The problem wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so familiar. In our own experience, in the day to day grind, we feel like this woman, don’t we? Let’s be honest. That’s our real problem with a text like this. It’s certainly unusual when you look at the Gospels, but it’s really not that unusual in our own lives. When we’re in dire need, or someone we know and love is in dire need, it’s then that we apparently meet this Jesus. This Jesus who’s silent to our need. He appears to be ignoring our need, not answering our prayers and petitions.
It’s in those moments—and I’m sure we don’t like to admit it—that we think, “Maybe I’m not His sheep.” Maybe it’s just like that woman. He didn’t really come for me…
We prayed against such thoughts in our collect today. We prayed that we may be defended from “all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul.” Such thoughts are evil because they couldn’t be farther from the truth!
((3. Aha!: Jesus is actually most gracious to her.))
The truth is that Jesus is actually most gracious to her, and this woman knows it. That’s the sort of Jesus she’s heard about. She knows where this Jesus lives and works, and it’s not in Tyre or Sidon. But that’s exactly where Jesus goes. We’d think it’s out of his way. But it’s not. Jesus has no other reason to go to Tyre and Sidon except to save this Gentile woman’s daughter.
This woman was given faith through hearing what Jesus was doing. “Have mercy on me, O Lord,” she prays. She has faith, and Jesus is pressing her for the clearest possible confession of her faith. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She should be offended! She should organize some protest or march for the bad treatment! No, her answer is, “Yes, Lord.” “If you say that I’m a dog, I’m a dog. But I know that you’re even merciful to a gentile, dog, sinner like me! Because that’s the sort of Jesus you are.”
Jesus delivers the goods: “‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”
((2. Whee!: Jesus is actually most gracious to you, too!))
Jesus is completely merciful for that woman and her daughter, and He’s that way for you, too! How can He not be? He came just for you. Just like He went to Tyre and Sidon for that woman and her daughter, so also He came into this world for you. If He died for all people collectively, then He died for each person individually. “When He died in the Wounded World, He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” (C.S. Lewis) He was ignored by the Father in your place. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” He was alone and forsaken that you might never be. That’s His great love for you.
He delivers the goods to you now. He’s drummed up and given faith to you. Through His powerful working in Holy Baptism, you were made right with God. Before that you weren’t—not even close! But there He gives the promises and blessings of forgiveness, deliverance from death and devil, and eternal salvation. (SC IV.2) In the midst of our trials, temptations, and sins, He gives more than just crumbs to sinners like us. We get, through the bread and wine, Jesus’ body and blood to drive away fear, doubt, and sin, and to give us the promise of eternal life.
Jesus doesn’t just deliver the goods now, He will deliver them forever. As surely as Christ died and then rose from the dead, those who are united to His resurrection from the font, those who are enlivened only through His Word, and those who are united to Him with His body and blood—that’s you!—yes, you will be raised from death unto eternal life on the Last Day. Nothing that happens to you now can truly get you down.
((1. Yeah!:)) FAITH RECEIVES ALL THINGS AS GIFT FROM THE LORD.
That’s what this text is all about! FAITH RECEIVES ALL THINGS AS GIFT FROM THE LORD. That woman certainly did. “If you say I’m a dog, then that’s what I am. Only help my daughter!” He does! How can He not. That’s who He is. That’s what faith knows.
Faith cries out, “Reminiscere. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old.” That’s what Jesus does! The Father does that in His Son! All things are now a gift.
No matter what comes your way it can’t keep you down. Why? Jesus isn’t down any longer. He’s not dead! In Him you won’t die—not forever! FAITH believes that and trusts that. Now, FAITH RECEIVES ALL THINGS AS GIFT FROM THE LORD. Even “silence” and trial. “God in His purpose has ordained before the time of the world by what crosses and sufferings He would conform every one of His elect to the image of His Son.” (SD XI.49) He knew exactly when He was going to help that woman. When that demon would leave her daughter. He knows our rescue date, too!
It may be soon, long, or not until the resurrection on the Last Day. But Jesus will do it. How can He not? As surely as He’s risen from the dead, as surely as you are baptized, as surely as you eat and drink His body and blood today, it will happen. On the Last Day, you’ll see Him with your own eyes, and then your FAITH that RECEIVES ALL THINGS AS GIFT FROM THE LORD will give way to eternal sight and joy.
INI + AMEN.