Introduction Dietmar Joosten
We greet everybody in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We trust and believe He is with us. He will make the change. He will make everything new.
It is a privilege to meet and worship with the saints. Today’s word is taken from Matthew 15. It is a well-known Scripture. This text has come back to me repeatedly and I have meditated on it. When you hear God’s word, it strikes you anew and you ask yourself what the words say to you in your present situation.
The worst poison is the poison which comes from within and pours out. The Bible speaks about filthy thoughts which a person ponders on and then speaks about. This kills the listeners. Do we realise what we say? Ask yourself, do your words build others up or break them down? A person often gets out of things by saying, “I was just joking.” Do you call it a joke yet your words have destroyed the hearer? We should be careful - think and pray - before we speak. Watch every word that you speak. Does it bring life or death to the hearers?
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28
We find three groups of people in this text: the heathen woman, Jesus and the disciples. Each group has a different reaction to the other. Each group’s interests are not like those of the other groups. The political situation of that time is very clear. Different nations and races did different things, and we can see how Jesus reached out in this situation. It is quite clear which group had a receptive heart to what Jesus wanted to do and which group distanced themselves from what Jesus wanted?
The problems that people faced at that time are comparable to the problems we face today. There were satanic influences then and people suffered under them. What was the influence of Jesus on these people?
It seems as if people were expecting Jesus to arrive and were waiting for Him when this Canaanite woman approached. She was a troubled heathen woman. The gospel of Mark says that she was a woman of Greek descent. She had a need which she did not hide. She came into the open with her need. She made the reason for her coming quite clear. She had had enough of her problem. The help she received came about because of her faith. Christ granted her her need according to what she believed. She knew she would get help, and in the end, Jesus said “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Jesus wanted to spend time alone with his disciples possibly for various reasons. They may have been exhausted and they needed rest and/or He may have wanted to teach them. The disciples still had a lot to learn. There was much training they had to go through to continue the work the Lord had started.
You and your colleague may always be at loggerheads because there are various views about things. Whatever work you, do it is vital to learn to listen. When you are told do something in a particular manner, you add your own opinions and ideas and instead of bringing life to the situation, you break things down. If you are told to do something, do it exactly as you are instructed, do not add your own things. If you must combine different components, do not add extra things that are your own ideas. If you do not listen, the employer will suffer loss.
The disciples of Jesus (you are also disciples of Jesus) had their own opinions and convictions. “Lord, let her go home; she is making a noise!” You may act in the same way. How many times is your opinion contrary to God’s plans? The noise the woman made was the problem for the disciples. She did not withhold her cry. She knew that this was the first and last opportunity she would get to receive help. She could not waste time. Her child was sick and now she had found the man who could help her. Her manners or dignity came to an end. She shouted out loudly. She was carrying the burden of her child’s dreadful suffering through demon possession. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
The blind man also cried out in this way. He had heard about Jesus and the miracles He had done - the lame walked, the blind saw, the dumb spoke. He also cried out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” What did the disciples do then? They tried to quieten the blind man. They did not see his need; they only heard the noise. The very disciples who worked alongside Jesus tried to quieten the man. “We don’t want that noise!” they said. Where did this complaint come from? Were they tired? They had spent the day working, giving people food to eat. Feeding 500 people is a lot of work - but feeding 5000 people – that is a huge job. They were only a few people who had to do that great task.
It does not matter how tired you are, how hungry you are, how things have gone against your grain, be careful that you do not go against God’s plan. Do not say that you were tired - which is why you reacted like that. Do not say that you were hungry - which is why you were impatient and angry. No person may sin because he is hungry. No one may sin because he is tired. This is why Jesus had to spend time with his disciples and teach them. As God’s children we must also learn from Jesus. If you have reached the point where you think you know so much, then you are wrong, you are missing the mark. We learn every day. We should never tire of learning things. After working hard all day, check whether your heart is still clean. Has your workload caused you to deviate from God’s ways? When things do not progress as you think they should, does your heart remain clean?
The disciples heard the noise, and this disturbed them. They did not see the need of this woman. They did not see how they could help her. But in spite of all this, she did not give up. This teaches us a life lesson. When circumstances are difficult, think about this woman. What would she have done if she faced difficult situations? Even when you are tired, you must learn to trust the Lord. Even when things go against you, learn to trust the Lord in all things. After that, ask yourself how much better you can do things next time. Do things step by step with the Lord and His children. If you do things on your own, you will make many mistakes. Stop, think and look. Are you still on the right way? If not, backtrack and see where things went wrong and make things right.
This woman was not affected by the disciples’ reaction. Test yourself. How earnestly do you seek God? How do you seek Him and ask Him for things? Before the Lord answered her, she knew what she would say. Her faith in the Jesus did everything for her. Her trust in the Lord made everything easy. Some approach the Lord but they already doubt whether they can be helped. If you do not have faith and trust in the Lord, you will not be helped. This woman knew that this man would be able to help her and her daughter. There were many people who thronged around Jesus and it may not have been easy to get close to Him, but she was convinced that if she could just meet with Jesus, He would help her. She had faith.
When she cried to the Lord, she did not get what she expected. Firstly, he did not answer her a word. “Lord, how can You not even answer her? Why did you not give her an answer?” He kept quiet. Then when He did answer her, His answer was even more overwhelming than his silence. His answer was: Certain bread belongs to certain people. “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” In other words, it is not good to take what rightly belongs to the people of Israel and give it to you. The bread that belongs to the Israelites should not be thrown to the dogs. What type of answer is this? How would you have reacted? You may have got upset and said, “Who is this Messiah, the son of David who treats me like this?” “How can this man speak like this?” “I was convinced that he would help me and now he treats me like a dog!” The Lord was testing her faith. How often have situations and people tested your life? This is the Lord testing you. How often have you have failed? There are people you have crucified because of the way they treated you. You say, “I asked them a question and I want a reply, but they still have not answered me!” Because of that experience you crucify that person, however, this is a test in which Jesus is testing you to see how deep your faith is.
Many fail the test because of impatience. They cannot wait for 3 minutes or 10 minutes and then, “I am going, I cannot wait anymore!” They fail the test of patience. Jesus said to his disciples, “Could you not even watch with me for one hour?” Could you not be with Me while I am going through this trial? Why? They were asleep when He needed them the most, but He never reprimanded them or fought with them. He said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” That situation did not overcome the Lord.
How many times has impatience not overcome you? “Must I wait so long? Never.” In the business world, 5 minutes is too much. “I cannot wait. Time is money!” You cannot wait then, but if it is God’s time - wait. Wait and be patient. Wait for God’s opportune time. See the visitation of the Lord; it might be the first and last time. Wait. It will come right. Why are you in such a hurry? Be patient for a while. Wait. Wait.
What was this woman’s answer to the Lord? “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” To be addressed as a dog did not put her off and turn her away. The word dog did not divert her from her mission. It was her opportunity and there was no other. Can you say, “Yes, Lord, I am your pup, just give me some crumbs. Lord, I deserve only this. I only deserve crumbs. Please grant me some.” This is the way we should seek our Lord.
How often have you come to the Lord with your sin, but you do not receive answers and forgiveness? You do not overcome. You may have given up hope and said, “How often haven’t I begged the Lord to help me?” Why do you say that? Why do you say that He does not forgive me? You do not hear, you do not grasp that moment when the Lord says, “I have forgiven you. Jesus forgives our sins. He removes your sin as far as the east is from the west. That is a great difference. Your sins have been forgiven. You have been set free. By God’s grace, He has saved me from this sin.
Can you come to the Lord knowing that this is my day of salvation? Many people speak to a counsellor, but they achieve nothing through it. Some come without the conviction that they will be freed from their sin. You must say in your heart, “This is my day of salvation. Today I will receive freedom through prayer and even if death comes, I have been saved and set free.” The Lord forgives. He gives freedom. Why does it not happen to you? The Bible says if we confess and forsake our sin, He will forgive us. He does not say, maybe it will happen; it is the truth. If we really come to Him with an honest heart and ask for forgiveness, He will forgive and remove your sin as far as the east is from the west.
If this is your attitude, you can also receive something from His table. It was enough for her to just tell Jesus. She did not need Jesus to see her daughter. She had the same attitude as the woman who knew that if she touched the hem of His garment, she would be healed. She had the same faith.
How do we come to Jesus with our needs and problems? These people had many difficulties, the demons troubled them too. Are these the demons that trouble you today? People are troubled by demons, and they are slaves of sin. Every day they commit evil before the sun goes down. They do not believe the Lord can save them totally. How can you be helped if you do not come to the Lord by faith?
This woman came with hope and absolute trust. She knew that today was her day of my salvation. Do you come with the same heart - knowing that today is my day of salvation? I can no longer be enslaved by porn and lust. I must come to the Lord. He must save me from this. Come to Him knowing that He is the one who can save you. How do you come? Do you doubt? If you doubt, then do not come. There is no doubt in His answers. He says that if the Son of Man shall set you free, you will be free indeed. Do you come in this way? You must say, “This is my day. I will separate from sin today. I want to do His will.” It is wonderful to be led by Him and walk according to His rule – not your own mind, feelings and emotions. Some people obey these things rather than God. Some listen to their feelings and emotions concerning evil. They say, “I’ll do whatever I want, even if it is wrong and then I will come back to the Lord sometime.” Jesus saves completely and abundantly. Separate yourself from the evil one and be a child of God, give your life to the Lord.
The Lord said, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. The Lord may not have expected her words. Did He realise how great her faith in Him was? The Lord sits in heaven and looks at the children of men, at the way they live and what they think. What does God see in our lives? He is close to those who have broken hearts and those who seek him with all their hearts. We do not serve an idol who does not hear. Jesus listens and answers and has feelings for us. Above all, Jesus forgives.
It would be so wonderful if you entered the next week, knowing that you have met the Lord, that He has saved you and freed you from your sins. This gives you courage. Satan can come with all his noise and confusion, but you will have an answer: Satan, I have been forgiven my sin. My sins have been carried by the Man who died for me. They are nailed to Golgotha. They have been forgiven.
Do you doubt that your sins have been forgiven? Repent today. Give yourself totally to the Lord. Give your mind, your eyes, your lips, your hands and your feet to the Lord. You can no longer walk wherever you want to because your feet belong to the Lord. Seek God. Seek Him first. Seek His way.
The woman went home rejoicing. Her daughter had been set free. Today, parents are troubled because of their children who do not repent and turn to the Lord. How can they face the Son of God if they have not confessed their sins? This mother saw the trouble her child was in, and this pushed her to the point that she knew she needed to get help. She only desired good for her child. But child, you think your parents are oppressing you. You want to leave the home and you react like that because you love your sin. You need to repent. This should be the day you give your life to Him. This should be the day that you meet with Christ and you give your mind and life over to Him. Your eyes need the Lord. They see terrible things and your mind dwells on those things. Be careful of the books that you read. Many have gone astray because of what they read. If it does not bring you closer to the Lord, burn those books. Does the music you listen to bring you closer to the Lord? If it does not, burn it. The Lord want to save us and set us free. He wants to give us new life, not a demonic life but one that is led by God’s Spirit. When He calls you draw close to Him, when He beckons to you, come to Him. May this be your hour.
Conclusion A van Eeden
This woman had one great asset which is a challenge to all of us – humility. She was humble. Humility is a pre-condition for meeting the Lord - humility with faith.
There is nothing wrong with politics. It is not a sin to be involved in politics, but if this woman had been politically minded, she would never have received the blessing and never persevered.