Matthew 15:27-28 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
We often speak about what’s wrong, its kind of a standard thing, because it seems like there’s always something wrong, but often we fail to even notice the things which are right, and it is even less often that we speak of them. For all the things that are wrong about the reformed church, there is one thing that they have right, they have an understanding of God as Lord of all, they often speak of the sovereignty of God, its a big word, sovereignty, but it says quite plainly that God has the right and the authority to rule over all. And in God’s rule, there is no democracy, there is only one vote and one voice, and both belong to God. And this is a very difficult thing for us to understand, for everything in our society works against it. And if our society would inform us about God, it would tell us that God is a dictator, a despot, and a tyrant, who deserves to be overthrown. And we would replace him with someone who listens to the people, and who does what they wish. Our society can hear about a Savior who came as a servant, but it would rather not hear about God who came as the sovereign Lord of All.
But the Bible is not about a Savior who came as servant, apart from being first the Sovereign Lord of All. Matthew begins his gospel showing that Jesus had the right to rule, that he was no ordinary person, and that he was owed worship, even before he had done anything. Wisemen realize Jesus is Lord and King, and they come, not to ask for handouts, but they come seeking him to worship him, because it is their duty. Oftentimes we look at our worship of God, as something we do, so that God will be obligated to hear our prayers and to give us what we want. And so, today, as in times past the first message we all need to hear is the simple message of John the Baptist, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"
What does this message say? First of all it says that we have a debt to God, one that we have not paid. We owe God worship. We owe God obedience. And all this is before God does anything on our account. We do not worship as we ought. We do not obey in all things. And perhaps the worst of it is that we feel no shame for the sinful way we live.
All of this brings us to our Gospel lesson, and its message to us. Jesus is in the region of Tyre and Sidon, he is outside of Israel. The women is Canaanite, she too is outside Israel. She had no claim on Jesus, Jesus had no obligation to her. The conversation that takes place is difficult for us to understand, Jesus words seem cruel to our ears. We don’t call women, dogs. We don’t regard dogs as unclean animals. Jesus words plainly tell the woman, you have no claim on me, I am under no obligation even to listen to you, I have no intention of doing anything for you.
Now it this were made clear to us, most of us would say, Sorry for bothering you; and politely leave. We know what no means, but more than that, for the most part, we are too proud to beg. But the woman persists. She acknowledges that Jesus is not obligated to help, Jesus is not even obligated to listen, but she is confident that Jesus can help, and she trusts her all in the mercy of God, not asking for what is earned or deserved, she simply begs for mercy, recognizing that even this is not something she is owed. There is no pride, only in deepest humility a cry for mercy. No call for daily bread, just the mercy of the crumbs that fall from the table, the refuse and the rubbish left over after God’s mercy has been poured forth on His chosen people, she says, would be more than enough to meet my need. And though there was no obligation on Jesus part, because of her faith in the mercy of God, Jesus has mercy on the woman and heals her daughter.
The woman acknowledges God as Lord of all. The woman confesses Jesus as Lord. And the Lord Jesus, in mercy, for the sake of faith, has compassion and heals. Are we willing to beg? Are we willing to confess Jesus as Lord? Are we willing to be satisfied with the crumbs that fall from the table? Or does our pride get in the way? Do we feel that God owes us something?
Our text calls us to repent of all pride. Our text calls us to repent of all idolatry, especially the self idolatry that so fills the world and our culture, where what I want comes first. Our text reminds us that our friend and savior Jesus, is first and foremost Lord of all, God almighty, and of our debts, which are not, and cannot be paid. We are humbled, and in our humility, we learn to cry, not for what we deserve, but to cry for mercy, and to receive the mercy of God with thanksgiving.