Astonishing Faith Unleashes Limitless Power
July 28, 2019 | Andrew Davis
Prayer, Humility, Forgiveness
Praying the Fog Away
All my Christian life I have delighted in stories about men and women of faith. People whose faith enabled them to, as William Carey put it, expect great things from God and attempt great things for God. Perhaps one of the greatest heroes of faith that I've ever studied is George Müller, a man who in the 19th century cared throughout his lifetime ministry for over 10,000 orphans, 10,000 orphans in England. He trusted God again and again for their material needs, for their food, clothing and shelter, for their educational needs and for their spiritual needs. Now, toward the end of his life, Müller, whose work with orphans had become famous worldwide, was traveling to North America in 1877 on a steamship, The Sardinian.
And as they traveled across the North Atlantic there was a heavy fog. And the ship's captain wisely felt it good to throttle the ship back and slow down to a crawl to avoid icebergs, especially at that time of year, the very thing that would sink the Titanic 35 years later. Well, George Müller went to see the captain, his name was Joseph E. Dutton. He explained very clearly to the captain. You have to understand about George Müller, he was Prussian-born and this is a man who gets what he wants, very precise. And he explained to the captain that he had to be in Quebec by the following afternoon. He never missed an appointment, he was not going to miss that one.
The captain explained that it was impossible because of the fog. And Müller answered, "My eye is not on the fog, but on the God who holds every circumstance of my life in His hands. Let us go down to the chart room and pray." Well, the captain went down reluctantly and Müller prayed a simple prayer. Then the captain dutifully began to pray in like manner. Müller stopped him, and he put his hand on his shoulder and stopped him. He said, "First of all, you don't believe that God will. Second of all, I believe God already has, so there's absolutely no need for you to pray."
"You may go up and look, the fog has lifted." And it had. Now, that's quite a moment, isn't it? Now, the question that's in my mind, and it's a perennial question about prayer, the efficacy of prayer. Did Müller's faith-filled prayer move the fog, or did God's power move the fog? Now, the answer of course must be both. Biblically it must be both, and that's the mystery of prayer. In James 5 and verse 16 it says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," in the King James version. It is powerful and effective. Prayer is effective, it produces an effect. Jesus said in Matthew 21:21, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt… you can say to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself in the sea' and it will be done."
Now in the end, as we'll see this morning, faith-filled prayer is totally humble and gives all glory to God. If it were not for the power of God to move fogs then the prayer would be meaningless. And if a person prays for a mountain to be thrown into the sea and it does, a person knows full well they didn't move the mountain, God moved the mountain. So, in today's account we're going to see both astonishing faith and even more astonishing power. Amazing faith and even more amazing power, the power of Christ.
I. Christ’s Mysterious Manner
Now, as we come to this account in Matthew 15, we come to a bit of a mystery. And it all just has to do with how Jesus treats this woman. I mean, when you read this text don't you find yourself a little bit perplexed? Like you want to pull Jesus aside and just give him some lessons on how to win friends and influence people.
This is not how we treat people. Imagine you giving Jesus instructions on how to treat people. But there it is, it's strange. Robert Stein in his book Difficult Passages in The Gospels says, "This is a difficult passage. The problem is obvious, Jesus' words appear harsh, austere and insensitive. The Jesus of the Gospels, however, is loving and kind. Jesus who has special compassion for the outcasts of society, and this woman is an outcast in the Jewish mind."
So that's what makes it difficult, his demeanor. Now, let's set the context. Jesus is in retreat mode with his apostles. He's pulled back from the increasing heat of his ministry in Israel, the Greek word there, if you look at verse 21, it says, "Leaving that place Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon," and the Greek word there means more than just went away, he... This is a strategic, intentional retreat that he's taking.
And he's doing it to escape the building pressure, to kind of tone things down, because it's not time for him to be arrested yet. His time had not yet come, so he wants things to cool off. There is pressure from the huge multitudes that are coming all the time for healing. Pressure that he would be arrested imminently by Herod Antipas, the same one who had arrested John the Baptist. Pressure, most of all, from the Jewish religious leaders led by Caiaphas and Annas, who had no desire for Jesus to continue his ministry and who were already plotting his death, and Jesus knew that, so he retreats. And he's going there to be hidden with his disciples for a little while, but this woman found him anyway. If you look at the Mark account, just listen, in Mark 7:24 and 25, it says, "Jesus entered a house and did not want anyone to know it, yet he could not keep his presence secret.In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. So Jesus is in retreat mode but this woman has found him and forces this interaction.
Tyre and Sidon: Notorious in Jewish History
Now Tyre and Sidon is notorious in Jewish history, it was well known as a prosperous pagan place, a pagan society founded on shipping and trade and merchants that went throughout the Mediterranean and made tons of money. Now the relationship in Scripture, started positively. Hiram King of Tyre, sent David logs for him to build his palace and then when David's son, Solomon went to build the temple it was Hiram also who sent craftsmen and logs and all of that, and they had a very cordial relationship, Solomon with the King of Tyre. But the flip side was darker, Tyre and Sidon represent worldly luxury, through abundant sea trade and that abundant sea trade is likened by Isaiah the prophet to the plying the trade of a prostitute. Worse Amos 1 and Joel 3 reveal that Tyre and Sidon was actually involved in the slave trade. Also in Ezekiel 26, they mocked and celebrated the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
Ezekiel 28 implies that the real ruler of Tyre and Sidon was Satan himself, the guardian cherub in the Garden of Eden, the King of Tyre the king of Sidon, it seems was the devil himself, and therefore several prophets predicted total devastation of Tyre and Sidon. Ezekiel Joel, Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah all of them prophesy against Tyre and Sidon. Yet, for all of this, Jesus knew their hearts and he knew some of them better. And he said, in one of most remarkable statements that he ever made concerning his ministry there, in Jewish cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11, he says, "Woe to you Chorazin, a Jewish city, woe to you Bethsaida, a Jewish city. If the miracles that were performed and you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I would tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you."
So that's the context. That's Tyre and Sidon, Jesus has gone up there to that pagan area, that gentile area for a retreat with His disciples.
Who Was this Woman, and What Was Her Plight?
So who was this woman? Well, she's a Canaanite, we have in our text, the very people that God had commanded Joshua to destroy completely when they entered the promised land. The Canaanite woman in particular, Canaanite women in particular, in general, people of God were warned, the sons of Israel were warned against intermarriage with Canaanite women, because there was a deep concern that they would lead the hearts of their sons astray from following the Lord.
Now Mark 7:26 tell us, "The woman was a Greek-born in Syrian Phoenicia." Ao sometimes she's called the Sira-Phoenician woman, a Canaanite woman. So she would have been a complete outcast as far as the law of Moses was concerned. A Canaanite woman. But yet, as we see in this text, she has tremendous faith in Christ and is for all time, memorialized in the scripture as an example of conquering faith.
But what was her plight? Her plight was that her little daughter was demon-possessed. Look at verse 22, "She was crying out, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession." Mark's Gospel heightens the fact that the little girl is young, she's her little daughter, she's a young girl. Now demons are fallen angels. They are immensely powerful, more powerful than we can imagine. We're surrounded by both angels and demons every moment of everyday though we do not see them.
Faith is the eyesight of the soul by which we see invisible spiritual realities, past, present, and future, and one of the present spiritual realities is that there are demons. We westerners are so materialistic, scientific, we think, "Well we just call God anything we don't understand from science, once we understand things in science then the invisible spiritual realms disappear." Well that's just not true. Demons were very powerful and active in Jesus' day and they haven't gone anywhere friends, they just use different tricks here in the West. But they're immensely powerful and this demonization or demon possession is one of the things that we see in the Gospels.
Demon possession is a very serious spiritual affliction, a demon takes possession of the mind and the heart, the will, and the body of a human being. The demons do actual bodily harm to these individuals, or cause them to do bodily harm to themselves, cutting themselves with rocks, howling at the moon, breaking chains, falling into fire or water, it's horrible. And more than one demon can inhabit a human being. As a matter of fact one demoniac of the Gadarenes has legion of demons, thousands of demons led by one central main demon. And nothing could cure this little girl.
And imagine what life was like in that household, what it was like to be the mother of that little girl, and the horror and the terror and the agony, middle-of-the-night screams and outcries. A father of a demon-possessed boy said, "The demon often throws my son in the fire or the water. So you got to be on 24/7 vigilant outlook to just keep him surviving." Life is unbearable for this woman because of her daughter. And this seems to have been an especially bad case, an extra Greek word is used to heighten that sense. So this is a terrible case.
Jesus’ Strange Actions
So she comes to interact with Jesus and now we get to look at Jesus' strange actions. First of all, in verse 23 He doesn't answer her at all, like she's not even there. Then the disciples come and they're weary of listening to this woman's pleas for help. So look at verse 23-24, "His disciples came to him and urged him, 'Send her away for she keeps crying out after us,' and he answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
Third, in dealing with her directly, once she forces that interaction, she falls on the ground before him, and will not be denied, He seems to insult her, calling her a dog. Now, I know it's hard for you dog lovers, but I've looked it up, dogs never do well in the Bible. I've not found any positive dog verses in the Bible. Maybe some of you can, but they're usually... What am I? A dog, a dead dog, something like that, it's that kind of thing. So this is... It feels like an insult. The woman came in and knelt before him in verse 25-26, "'Lord, help me,' she said. He replied, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to their dogs.'" So this is strange, this is difficult.
Now, there's some mitigating factors. We need to understand some things. First of all, we don't have a record of facial expressions, tone of voice, those things mean so much. You can't tell just from the words how Jesus is being, is He inviting more conversation? Is He being dismissive? We don't know. The Greek implied that Jesus was having actually an ongoing conversation with her. It says Jesus was saying to her, it's not right to take the children's bread and throw it to their dogs. So there's an ongoing thing. The Scripture frequently omits a lot of the back and forth and streamlines the account, so there's not everything said that was said, we've got that.
And also the word dogs here, there are certain Greek word for dogs where they're just wild animals, like junkyard dogs out in the street, that's not the word used here. Then there's more of a pet, like a household pet kind of aspect, it's more that word, but still for all of that this doesn't seem like what we would expect from Jesus.
II. Christ’s Wise Motives
Alright, so we have to understand Christ's wise motives here. Christ is always wise in everything He does, perfect in all of His ways, so let's try to understand. And let's do that negatively, let's come at it from just ruling out some options concerning why Jesus acted the way He did.
1) Not because He didn’t care about Gentiles, or had no saving purpose
First of all, it was not because He didn't care about Gentiles or want them saved, not at all.
When the original call to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation came, called him out of the Ur of the Chaldees, it says in Genesis 12:3, God said to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." So God's call of Abraham, the father of the Jews makes it plain that God always had a plan to save people from every tribe, language, people and nation, that was always God's plan, it wasn't plan B. That was exactly what God was going to do through the Jews, through Abraham.
Also Jesus Himself, His mission was clearly described for us in the Book of Isaiah, in Isaiah 49, we get an amazing inter-trinitarian conversation where the Father says to the Son, "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." It's too small a thing Jesus for you to just save the Jews. That was written centuries before Jesus was born, and Jesus knew the Book of Isaiah very well.
So He knew that He was the light for the Gentiles. Like Simeon, when baby Jesus was being circumcised, he took Him in his arms and called Him the Light for the Gentiles, they knew that, He knew that. And after His resurrection, He would send His disciples to the ends of the earth. "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations." And so Chris and Debbie are there in Bangladesh, in obedience to that commission. It's not plan B, that's what God always intended. And we have missionaries, friends, brothers and sisters serving all over the world, that's the great commission, it's been going on from Jerusalem through Judea to Samaria, to the ends of the earth. It's not plan B, it's always what God wanted.
And one of the places, one of the first places the disciples would go was this very region of Tyre and Sidon. Paul on his journey back to Jerusalem after his missionary trip, he landed at Phoenicia and went and visited the disciples in Tyre. And there were many there who deeply loved Paul because they deeply loved Jesus. It would not surprise me at all if this woman and her daughter were among that church, how marvelous would that be? We'll find out in heaven. But Jesus clearly had a saving intention for the entire world including Tyre and Sidon.
2) Not because He lacked the power to do miracles in a Gentile land
Secondly, it's not because He lacked the power to do miracles in a Gentile land. Okay, the end of the account proves that that's not true. Jesus' power worked very well in the mountains and in the valleys. It worked very well in the cities and out in the country, He does very well everywhere. He is omnipotent, there's nothing He cannot do. And He was no more or less powerful in Tyre and Sidon than anywhere else.
3) Not because He lacked mercy or compassion for her plight or that of her daughter
Thirdly, it's not because He lacked mercy or compassion for her plight or that of her daughter, Jesus is the most perfect man that ever lived, the only perfect man that ever lived, perfect in compassion. As a matter of fact, again and again, we are told Jesus moved with compassion healed somebody.
As a matter of fact, compassion is the number one emotion ascribed to Jesus more than any other emotion. He was perfectly compassionate all the time. Anyone who came to Him empty, like a spiritual beggar with a need got what they needed from Him.
4) Not because He was weary and annoyed
It was not because He was weary and annoyed at the end of a long day, or needed a break or a vacation as so many of us do. Jesus never had a bad day and never got weak and weary in that sense. Think of Him on the cross, hands and feet nailed, dying under the wrath of God and showing compassion for His mother, setting her up with John, showing compassion on those who nailed Him to the cross saying, "Father forgive them they do not know what they are doing." Showing compassion on the thief saying, "Today you'll be with me in paradise." Perfectly loving while dying on the cross. So it's not because He was too tired to help this woman.
5) Not because he was taking a break from ministry and didn’t want to care for her needs at that point
And it's not because He was taking a break from ministry and didn't want to care for her needs at that point.
6) Not because there was only so much “bread” to be fed to His children, and if He gave some to her there wouldn’t be enough for them
And it's not because there's only so much bread to give to the children and it's going to run out. Let me ask you a question, do you think it would have been harder for Jesus to feed 6000 than 5000? Do you think He'd need a few more loaves and fishes to pull it off? Friends, there's no limit to the power of Jesus Christ. No miracle is particularly difficult for Him or particularly easy. Jesus can do anything, that's what omnipotence is all about. And so there's no limit to the bread supply.
7) Not because she didn’t ask properly or with enough faith
And it's not because she didn't ask properly or with enough faith. Jesus commends her faith in the end, he wasn't forcing her to give more or he wouldn't respond. Actually, I think he wants to put the greatness of her faith on display. And so we'll get to that in just a moment, but these are not the reasons why.
Why then? Well, let's look at some possible reasons. First of all, there's just an order to God's redemptive plan. He has a very clear and wise purpose and order to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. Peter spoke about this after Jesus' resurrection and ascension to heaven, he's preaching there in the Jewish temple. And he says in Acts 3:26, "For you, first God raised up his servant, and sent him to bless each of you by turning you from your wicked ways." God sent him to you Jews first. Peter said that, Acts 3:26.
Over and over the Apostle Paul, the same thing, lived out what he wrote in the book of Romans, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." And he acted it out in his ministry, Paul I mean. Every city he went to, the first place he would go if there was one, was to a Jewish synagogue, that's where he always started and he would preach to the Jews and they would inevitably be divided, there'd be a small number of them that believed and was interested and the rest would turn because there was a veil over their hearts, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3 and they would become hostile.
And so in Acts 13: 46 when Paul and Barnabas were in Pisidia in Antioch, they had preached a couple of Sabbaths at the synagogue, the Jews turned and became hostile, and this is what it says, "Paul and Barnabas answered the Jews boldly, we had to speak the word of God to you first," just ponder that there's just a clear order here, "since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us, 'I have made you, [Jesus] a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." And so they went out and preached and did very well among the Gentiles there. This is God's strategy. It was part of God's redemptive plan for Christ to be sent first to His own people, to have them reject Him, and then turn to the rest. As it says in John 1:11, "He came to his own and his own people did not receive Him, but as many as did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
So Jesus is here declaring the focus of his ministry. It's the Jews. Look at Verse 24, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." Not ultimately only but in this mission, I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. Also Christ hadn't died yet, so the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, so-called, set up in the Laws of Moses, were still in effect. Circumcision was still in effect, the dietary regulations were still in effect although Jesus in His life declared all foods clean, but all of that would be fulfilled when he died, and the moment he died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the Levitical animal sacrifice system was fulfilled and obsolete, and welcome was offered to both Jews and Gentiles through faith in Christ to draw near to the Holy of Holies, and find salvation.
So that happened when Jesus died and rose again, the end of the old covenant, the beginning of the New Covenant, hadn't happened yet, and so we still have that barrier the dividing wall of hostility, established separating Jews and Gentiles. Also Jesus has a strategic order in dealing with his own apostles, the 12, the inner circle. He came to this region to focus on them. One way to understand his statement is that the disciples are the children and the children's bread is time spent with Jesus. Jesus had limitations in the days of His incarnation. He could only be in one place at one time, he could only effectively deal with one situation at one time, though he is omni-competent and can do all these things when he ascends to Heaven through the Holy Spirit, at that point he's limited, and he's focused on the apostles. He's retreated to be with them, and he therefore couldn't give himself to a general healing ministry, there in Tyre and Sidon, would have taken all their time, remember there was such a crush of people that they couldn't eat or do anything in some of the days of Jesus' ministry. So he said, "Look I'm going to focus on them."
To Test Her Faith?
But let's get to the real point I think, and that is to test her faith, perhaps, but more I would say to draw her faith out and put it on display. And that's why the Holy Spirit wanted Matthew and Mark to write about it, so that we could learn from her and learn what faith is really like so to put her faith onto... To test it and to put her faith on display. So let's talk about her testing of her faith. Jesus already knew the level of her faith. We also know that God sometimes tests our faith to strengthen it. Much like a physical therapist who's working with somebody after surgery or after an illness, will oppose the very motion that they want, they'll push on the foot or the arm and cause pain. I've seen it, and not myself, praise God, but I've seen some loved ones that have gone through some painful experiences at the hand of PT people. Now some of you may be PT, I know you mean well, alright, but there is a high level of pain. And what is your good intention, to strengthen the damaged area, to build that area up, and so it is in our lives, our faith is too weak and it needs to be strengthened and it has to be strengthened as so often by opposition by not getting instantly what we want. So our faith has to be strengthened, so I think that's what's going on.
III. True Faith Put on Display
He wants to put her faith on display for all time, but also strengthen it, so let's look at the nature of true saving faith. Let's see how it's put on display.
The Basis of Faith
First of all true faith must have a basis, there has to be content, there has to be truth, that faith zeroes in on and believes. So we don't have faith in faith itself.
Alright, we're not believers in believing, we're not generally vaguely people of faith. Have you heard of that... In our secular, "Let's get all the people of faith." And I say, "I'm not a person of faith, not like that, I'm a person of faith in Jesus." And specifically because of who he is revealed to be in the pages of Scripture, the content I get out of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and indeed, the whole Bible, tell me who Jesus is, I believe that, I believe what has been revealed about Jesus. Faith is not merely an optimistic outlook, like this, "I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows. I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows." I'm not going to sing it friends...I don't remember the tune.
John McArthur said:
“That sort of faith is essentially faith in faith, which is to say no faith at all. To jump out of an airplane with a parachute is an act of faith. To jump without a parachute while exclaiming, ‘I believe’ is an act of stupidity. To say no more than ‘I believe in love,’ or ‘I believe in believing,’ or ‘I believe it will all work out’ is contentless faith and therefore pointless and powerless.”
So this Canaanite woman had heard of Jesus, she knew some of who he was, she didn't know everything, none of them knew everything, but she knew enough to believe in him. Look what she says, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me." What is that? He is the fulfillment of the Davidic promises, he is Lord of heaven and earth, that's who he is. And that's what she calls him, "Lord, Son of David." Faith comes from hearing, she'd heard the reports about Jesus, his miracles, all that he had done, she didn't have the New Testament, it wasn't written yet. But she had heard reports, and she believed them, she believed that Jesus could heal her daughter. Faith initially springs in the human heart through hearing of the word, it comes from hearing the Scripture. Not only that, but faith is fed and strengthened the same way. And so my task, as a preacher, is to feed your faith so you have a more vivid, a stronger sense of Jesus when you walk out of here than when you walked in, a stronger sense of reliance on Christ. So we see the basis of faith.
The Reverence of Faith
Secondly, we see the reverence of faith. She calls him, "Lord," she falls on the ground before him, before his feet, she worships him, she is submissive, she is reverent. She doesn't presume on him, she doesn't demand from him, she knows that he is exalted. Like John the Baptist said about Jesus, "I don't deserve to tie his shoes, his sandals. I don't deserve to touch his feet." John the Baptist said that. She had the same sense of the exalted nature of Jesus, reverence of faith. We see the confidence of faith; there's zero doubt in her mind Jesus can do this, he is capable of doing this. The essence of great faith is confidence that God has the power to perform the very thing that's desired. Like Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now, to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or think according to His power that is at work within us…" He can do infinitely more than you think he can. It's amazing.
The Repentance of Faith
We see also the repentance of faith, she says, "Have mercy on me. Have mercy, show me grace. I don't deserve anything from you. I'm a sinner." Like the Pharisee and the tax collector, I'm the... Like the tax collector, beating my breast, and I won't look up, and I just say, "Have mercy on me, O God, the sinner." Just like the songs we sang this morning, "Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, I'm a sinner. I can't ask anything of you, but will you please have mercy?" These are the very people that Christ saves. Blessed are the spiritual beggars for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. She knows who she is, she is a sinner, and she's calling out for mercy, she's not making demands.
The Persistence of Faith
We see also the persistence of faith. Jesus just puts up one roadblock after another. This is the very thing I'm talking about, the strengthening through the physical therapy, Jesus is strengthening it by putting up obstacles, putting up roadblocks. So it is in your life, there are things you want, they come from Scripture, you have desires, they're good things, but they just aren't happening. And you're praying and praying, and it just doesn't happen, and you should see it in this light, God is the one that's making you wait, God is the one putting roadblocks up; but faith perseveres, it's persistent.
And note that her persistence springs from her love for her daughter, it springs from that horizontal connection. One could argue that it's the strongest love there is in the world, you could make that case, of a mother for her child, sick child, hurting child. The Lord said, "Can a mother forget the child at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will never forget you." God himself chose that as the paradigm example of love. And so, here's this woman, and she has linked her heart to her daughter. And look what she says, verse 22, "Have mercy on me... Lord, help me," she says in verse 24, she says, "My daughter…" It's like it's happening to me. I think that God tests us in prayer to strengthen our horizontal love for other people, because we don't love very much, we don't have Jesus' compassion, it's not because he wasn't compassionate, it's because we're not compassionate, and we need to learn how to really love other people and care, and that happens in prayer. When you pray again and again and again for some dire situation, you grow in love for that person, you actually care whether it happens.
Faith overcomes all the obstacles and keeps persevering, like Jacob wrestling with the angel, and he's wrestling, and the angel of the Lord is saying, "Let me go," and Jacob says, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Romans 8:37 says, "Know in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." We see also the humility of faith. "It's not right to take the children's bread and throw it to their dogs.' 'Yes, Lord.' She says, 'But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table.'" It's incredible. She finds hope even in the seeming put off. It's like well, there's still hope for me though. Isn't there? There's still a chance. If I could just be a dog under the table, there might be something for me. So the images of a laden table, rich household kids sitting around the table dogs under... We don't have dogs. I've been told it's best not to feed them off the table. They get certain bad habits. But you can picture this, the dog is there and maybe something accidentally falls off the table.
Now, what's amazing to me is that she doesn't bristle, she doesn't bridle up, at this seeming insult. He calls her a dog of sorts. "True Lord," She says in one translation, "Yes, I'm a dog." Faith takes it's rightful place under Jesus. Remember the centurion who sends a messenger saying, "My servant is at home paralyzed in terrible suffering." To the Centurion Jesus said, "I'll go and heal him." Centurion says, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof, but just give the word and my servant will be healed." Naturally in our sin, we are all dogs and worse than dogs. You have to have that work on you through the law. The gospel doesn't come puffing up your self-esteem. It comes and tells you the truth and no passage does it better than Romans 3, verse 9 and following.
"What should we say then? We any better? No. We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin as it is written, 'There is no one righteous, no one who understands, no one who seeks God, all have turned aside, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one. So you're saying that I'm a worthless sinner. Because of my sin, I have lost worth and value, and I don't do anything good at all. Actually I have more to say. Throats are open graves, tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips, ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace, they do not know, there is no fear of God before their eyes. Oh, that's the rest, that's what the law does, that's what the work... It says, "I am a sinner, I'm broken, I need a savior." God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. And this woman was humble. Now, imagine if she had said to Jesus, "You know, I'm not a dog and I don't appreciate you saying that to me. I came for help and look what you did, you just insulted me," and she walked away, what would she have gotten from Jesus? Nothing. Go home to a demon possessed daughter. God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble, and she was a humble woman. And so faith humbles us. It doesn't make us arrogant it humbles us.
The Reward of Faith
We'll look at the reward verse 28, Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very moment. So faith perseveres to get the reward. It perseveres until it obtains. Jesus made her wait some, He makes other people wait more. Some of you may be waiting on blessings and you wonder why God doesn't give it, He may be going to give it to you next year or next month. Five years from now. Waiting and waiting, perhaps conversion of a relative, something, He makes you wait. He made her wait, but then she got what she wanted. The ultimate reward of faith, how about this? Eternity in heaven in a resurrection body. Every blessing in the heavenly realm's given to you in Christ Jesus, all of them fulfilled in Heaven. He'll make you wait for it though. Live the rest of your life, but He'll give it to you. So true faith perseveres through all the obstacles and obtains.
IV. Christ’s Power Put on Display
Now Christ's power is put on display. I said before, her faith is great, his power is greater. Can I tell you something? In heaven we're not going to be celebrating the greatness of faith. We'll be celebrating the greatness of Jesus. And His power it's infinitely greater than she can possibly imagine, and this particular display is amazing. I hadn't realized an aspect of this until about a year ago.
Power in the mechanical engineering world has to do with the ability to move things quickly if you can think, to get work done. So it's not that huge a deal for a 1000 or a million people with little shovels to move a mountain over a thousand years. But if a mountain moves and throws itself in the sea in an instant, now that's incredibly powerful. So listen to this, Mark7:28-30, "'Yes Lord.' She replied. 'But even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.' Then He told her, 'for such a reply, you may go, the demon has left your daughter.'" Keep in mind, we're talking about demon possession. Demons are very powerful spiritual beings. The issue for me here is timing. I'm going to get really geeky on you. Really engineering here, alright? When she began her statement, the demon was in the daughter. When Jesus finished His statement, the demon was gone. Now I'm not advocating sympathy for the devil, at all here, but what's it like to be that demon?
You're in the girl, and now you're not. You're out on the street, you're out. You've been served your eviction notice, actually, no notice you're out. Sometimes demons would throw people down and make them foam at the mouth and there'll be a bit of an argument, a bit of a back and forth. There was none of that... This time, that demon was out. Power, infinite power. And what did Jesus say? Did he pray? Did he drop to his knees? Did He look to His Father? Did He do... Nothing. Just demon's gone. When did that happen, how did that, what, what just happened? Sometimes He uses instruments, He will make mud and put it on someone's eyes and watch... Somebody He touched somebody, this time what did He do? Think it. He just thought it and the demon was gone.
Can I tell you something? Jesus' power is infinitely greater than any of your problems, all of your problems. He could solve them instantly. Just know that. You may be asking, "Then why doesn't he?" And that's an important question in the doctrine of Providence, I understand. I'm just saying, His power... There was no difficulty here for this healing. This is also a picture of our forgiveness. Another woman came to Jesus and washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus read her heart, saw her faith and her repentance from sin, and he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Instantaneously. All of them, yeah, all of them, past, present, future, they're all forgiven. That's the power of Jesus. And that'll be the power of Jesus on your body, your resurrection body. In an instant, you'll be transformed from a lowly corrupting body of sin and death to a radiant, powerful, glorious resurrection body, in an instant, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. He will do that.
Alright, so what applications? First of all, learn to pray like this. Pray like this. Pray... Go over the lessons of faith, the basis of faith, and all of that. Get your faith strong, based on the Word of God, and then pray God's word back to Him. Pray His promises back to Him. Pray like this. Let me say an aside to some desperate parents. I don't know who you are, I know some of you. Take this text and bring your problem to Jesus. Pray and pray and pray like this woman, don't give up. Don't give up on your rebellious teen or your grown person maybe in their 20s or 30s, married, with kids, not walking with the Lord, in a pattern of sin breaking your heart. Take it to the Lord in prayer, take it to God in prayer. It could be your little ones. They're not sinning in any unusual ways, they're just kids, they're growing up. Take them to God in prayer.
Secondly, on God's silence. Don't let God's silence and His slowness put you off. God knows exactly what He's doing. He knows that you're praying, he knows what you want before you ask Him, He makes you wait because He's not a vending machine and He's wise and He knows His timing, and He doesn't always give you what you ask for. But be willing to persevere even when God is silent. Go back over the lessons of faith. Feed your faith in God's word. Be humble. Know that you're a sinner, saved by grace. Know that God can do immeasurably more than you ask or think. Be repentant in your faith, confess your sins often. Be humble. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. And wait on God until you finally have your reward. And then stand in awe of Jesus, just stand in awe of this incredible Savior, Who can think a thought and a demon has to obey. Stand in awe of the power of God in Jesus, He's infinitely more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Now, in my prayer I prayed for any that were here that are outsiders, came in here not believers. I pray that you have heard the gospel today, that God sent his Son into the world to save sinners like you and me. He died on the cross, in our place, as a substitute for sins. In an instant, he can forgive your sins, in an instant. All you have to do is come to Him in faith. Call on the name of the Lord Jesus. Say, "I am a sinner, just like this Canaanite woman. I need You to forgive me of my sins." And He will. Close with me in prayer.