Matthew 15,21-28 5420
17. Sonntag nach Trinitatis 062
Francis of Assisi, France. Founder of a monastic order, ✠ 1226
4. October 2020
1. O All-Loving God, Your mercy has no end and Your kindness is new each morning; often we come before You with great grief and a heavy heart seeking comfort from You; be merciful to us and show us compassion, so that our hearts are eased and our joy restored. Amen. (Starck 185-86 ¶ 3)
2. »And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region went out and was crying: „Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.“ But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples went and begged Him, saying: „Send her away, for she is crying out after us.“ He answered: „I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.“ But she went and knelt before Him, saying: „Lord, help me.“ And He answered: „It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.“ She said: „Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.“ Then Jesus answered her: „O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.“ And her daughter was healed instantly.«
3. Last week we heard how Jesus raised a dead man back to life. Today we hear how Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.
4. In Matthew 15, the evangelist gives us another example of Jesus’ healing ability. A young girl is severely oppressed with a demon, and Jesus heals her and relieves her of that spiritual affliction. What is strikingly apparent is that this woman and her daughter are Canaanites: they are not Jewish and they do not live in Jewish territory. They were Gentiles living in a Roman city, for Rome had exercised rulership over Tyre and the province of Syria (since 64 bc) for nearly 100 years before the events of Matthew 15. Jesus Himself notes in their discussion that He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.
5. Yet the mother persists in her plea. She calls Jesus: 1. Lord, and asks for mercy, 2. Son of David, 3. kneels before Him, calls Him Lord again and asks for His help and 4. calls Him Lord a third time and counters Jesus’ statement that even the Gentiles receive crumbs from the table of the Jews. This Gentile mother speaks and acts as one worshiping God: she invokes a Divine title, pleads for mercy and kneels in a position of prayer and worship; she directs these words and acts to Jesus. She essentially prays Psalm 30: Hear, O Yahweh, and be merciful to me! O Yahweh be my Helper« (Psalm 30,10).
6. There is some precedent here as well. 1000 years earlier when David and Solomon were gathering the materials for the construction of the temple, Tyre supported supplied cedar wood and skilled workers. During their reigns, David and Solomon maintained friendly relations and with King Hiram I of Tyre. Whereas Hiram offered help to David in building the temple, now the Son of David, the temple made flesh, gives help to a citizen of Tyre.
7. The Prophet Micah, who ministered to Judah and Samaria, was probably still remembered for his words and deeds by the people of Tyre just miles north of the Galilean border. Micah proclaims that God loves mercy and humbleness (Micah 6,8). This Gentile woman exhibits both humbleness to God and desires His mercy. Yahweh said to the Prophet Isaiah: »Yahweh waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For Yahweh is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for Him (Isaiah 30,18).
8. Whenever we are weighed down with despair, trials, tribulations or ailments, seek Jesus and His mercy. God promises us His grace. »You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake Israel.« (Nehemiah 9,17). »For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more« (Jeremiah 31,34; Hebrews 8,12). »Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful« (James 5,11). „The bread of the Messiah is so abundant and so overflowing that parts of it fall from the table onto the floor.“ (Gibbs 787). And the crumbs are enough for this Gentile woman and her daughter (Gibbs 787). She believes in both Jesus’ mission to Israel’s lost sheep and in Jesus’ abundance (Gibbs 787); even the Gentiles are blessed by the bread that Jesus provides.
9. Christ has shown us mercy. He has redeemed us from sin, death and the devils. His mercy is for all people, both Jews and Gentiles. May our faith in Jesus be as great as that of the Gentile mother from Tyre. Next week we will hear why God is merciful. Amen.
11. Let us pray. O Lord, Your steadfast love endures forever; help us to make known Your mercy to our generations, so that they seek You and Your grace. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
Gode ealdore sy se cyneþrymm
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4. Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Revised Edition © 2012 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © 2019 Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
VELKD. Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands. www.velkd.de. Copyright © 2020 Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands.
Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 11:2-20:34. Copyright © 2010 Concordia Publishing House.
Lewis, C. S. The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 2016 Samizdat University Press.
Starck, Johann. Starck’s Prayer Book. Copyright © 2009 Concordia Publishing House.