Lent 2—Reminiscere 2023 (Mt 15, 21–28)

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᛭ INI ᛭

We all need to wrestle with Jesus’ silence today. “He did not answer her a word.” At various times we’ve had to wrestle with that silence. This is the life of prayer—a Word, it seems, into the void. This is something the Canaanite dog woman knew all about. “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, Son of David. My daughter is badly demon possessed.” Jesus response: ‌[silence.]

Jesus is Lord, Son of David. We all know that. It’s something the woman professes to know, too. But what about when He is Lord, Son of David, in a way we don’t expect? When He is silent? When He does not help us?

How exactly is He Lord, not only that, but your Lord? What does it mean that Jesus is Lord, Son of David, and that FOR YOU? Well, it means that He is your Lord exactly as He was Lord for that woman. But before we get there we must first consider that woman and ourselves, because then who Jesus is and what He is doing will become abundantly clear.

(2. Asking Jesus for something is not yet faith in Him as LORD, Son of David.)

So, who does this woman think she is? She’s a Canaanite—a dog (racial epithet), according to Jesus… She had no business being there, she had no business addressing Jesus at all, and she certainly had no business claiming Him as her Davidic King. The Canaanites should’ve been wiped out by the Israelites, but they weren’t due to Israelites’ lack of listening skills. Her claims are met with silence, and the disciples’ prayer to have Jesus send her way is met with, “I wasn’t sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” As a Canaanite, a Syro-Phoenician by birth (Mk 8), that’s not her.

Who do you think you are? What claims do we have on Jesus? We have none. We like that Canaanite woman are Gentile dogs, and as such we have no rightful claim to be part of Israel, nor to claim Jesus, the Son of David, as our Lord and King. A true confession would recognize this reality, this gracious reality of the Kingdom. A false confession claims it only as par for the course, as a source of pride, arrogance, or due. Paul warns: “If God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” (Rom 11)

But claims is what we do. We can use the right words; we have the “right answers.” That’s what’s confirmation’s supposedly all about, or that’s what we make of it, how we use it. Claims is what we parade before God and before one another. Power dynamics—Old Adam’s favorite game. There nothing of faith is present. Games like the Pharisees’ claim, “We have Abraham as our father.” (Mt 3; Jn 8) We play the same games, “I’m a lifelong Lutheran. I’ve been a member of this church my whole life. My family founded this church. I went to school over there or the south school or at Good Shepherd. I go to church this much or that much.” Claim after claim after claim—Is it any wonder Jesus is silent in the presence of such claims?

The Canaanite dog woman makes a claim on Jesus, but is it of faith? Claims on Jesus can be made in faith, but asking Jesus for something is not yet faith in Him as LORD, Son of David. Asking Jesus for something may even be the opposite of faith. (Even unbelievers in times of trouble may offer their prayers to the void.) And even self-abasement is not yet faith either—anti-claim is still a claim. Oh, how you mean your prayers! How sorry you are! How much you offer them! The credit you use with Jesus to get His will to be done—a will that looks eerily similar to your own…


The Lord wipes her out. First, with silence. Second, with the truth that He was sent only to Israel. Third, “It isn’t good or right or fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” That is His divine judgment of the situation—that His royal edict as Son of David. Whenever we come with our own home-cooked claims, such edict stands against you, too.

There is nothing left for her, no other prop. You and I have no leg to stand on either. No other foundation or claim. He isn’t wrong, is He? It is isn’t right…

There is then nothing left except that Word of the Son of David Himself. His edict, His own Word, traps Him. She grabs Jesus by the Word and won’t let Him go. (He loves to be thus collared and bound.) Trapped by His own Word He is nothing other than Lord, Son of David for her, for you, too. Wiped out, having nothing, being nothing but give-able to—now, that is faith in Him as Lord, Son of David.

(1. Being nothing but give-able to—that is faith in Him as Lord, Son of David.)

From her nothingness, her emptiness, her deadness comes the dead hand of faith, the cry of faith blasts through any silence or front or wall the Lord places up for those who make claims of entitlement. Her faith cries out, “Yes, Lord.” “Amen, Lord.” “This is most certainly true, Lord.” “Even the dogs eat from the crumbs that fall from their Lords’ table.”

Now, He is Lord, Son of David for her. “Lord” now full not of her claims, but who He really is for her. Now, what will happen is no longer based on her expectations and demands, but all of His gracious giving. All that comes is now gift, gift from Him. “No merit or worthiness” but only “divine goodness and mercy.” “O woman, great is your faith.” Great not because of her actions, but of His. Great Jesus means great faith.

So, He breaks His silence. “Let it be for you as you want.” But it is all gift for her. For you, too. For Jesus really is Lord, Son of David, not when He does according to our desires, but when He provides what He Himself promises. He is that when He “purchases and wins you from all sins” at Calvary. There He is “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Son of David rejected and crucified FOR YOU. “It is finished,” He says. And He is Lord, Son of David, for you in His deeds but His promises, too. “I baptize you.” “I absolve you.” “This bread is My body given for you; this cup is My blood shed for you. Take, eat; take, drink for the forgiveness of sins.”

Great Jesus; great faith. And to His Words faith cries out: “Yes, Lord.” “Amen, Lord.” “This is most certainly true, Lord.”


“Faith: that is what it’s all about, that is, all of Jesus, all of His being Lord.” He is Lord when He does according to His Word and when He provides His promises to you. Thus,


At Calvary and in His Baptism, His Absolution, His Supper. There He is your Lord, your Son of David, your Jesus. He yours—and you are His.

“Having Him, [the woman] is then given also what she first came for, but now as nothing but gift from Him. If she’d simply got what she’d came for in the first place, she’d have gone away enormously grateful, but now she goes with ‘Jesus is my Lord,’ as we confess and pray in the Catechism, and with her daughter healed, too. Now nothing but gift—undemandable, unworkable, and so utter gift: all Jesus.” No claims.

“With [Jesus] all things [are gift], with Him then also this woman’s death and her daughter’s [are gift],” even yours. For, “into the silence of her grave go also in her the crumbs from the table,” so also you. “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.” (Jn 6) His blood is His claim on you, and so He is not truly silent, for at Calvary, in Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the Supper:


᛭ INI ᛭

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