Text: Matthew 15:21-28 Title: O Woman, Great is Your Faith!
First, I would like to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers and I want you all to know that you are very special and that you have an essential role in this world and in this church.
Secondly, I feel that I need to say that I sympathize with all of you who have a difficult time on Mother’s Day. This day (and Father’s Day) can be a challenge for the Minister. There are some here that have strained relationships with there mothers and vice-versa. Others here only have memories of their mothers. There may be mothers here that feel that in some way they have fallen short of their goals in motherhood. To all that struggle on this day I have a Scripture that I would like to specifically read for you before we turn to our main text for the sermon.
God has said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Turn to Christ and lay everything down before Him. Cry out like Hannah who said, “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit…and have poured out my soul before the LORD.”
Today I am not going to pretend that I know how to be a mother. I am not going to pretend that I know the mind of a woman, her challenges and feelings. So, I am going to do my best in praising what women do by looking at a certain text. It should be said that what a woman does and what she should be praised for is very different than what a man does. God has ordained specific roles for women and men in the home and in the church. There is no glass ceiling for either women or men and this is why- God wants every man to be the best man that he can be and God wants every woman to be the best woman that she can be and that should never be confused. Women have a unique role to be responsible for and it is my responsibility to encourage you to continue in what God has ordained for you. Each woman has her own dreams, needs, wants, challenges, difficulties, goals, responsibilities, duties, callings, gifts, and talents that are specific to her as a person and as a woman.
In order to honor all of the women in the congregation, especially the mothers, I would like to study a text from Matthew 15:21-28. Many have titled this ‘The Canaanite Woman’ yet it could be titled ‘The Canaanite Mother.’
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Let me make some observations from this text:
1. There were atleast three discouragements to not contact Jesus:
1) She was a Gentile 2) She was a Canaanite 3) She was a Woman
2. Yet this woman approached Jesus in this manner:
1) She recognized Him as King with historic significance (Son of David)
2) She submitted to Him by calling out and bowing down (Lord)
3) She prayed a simple prayer (have mercy on me…help me)
3. This account is similar to the encounter Jesus had with the unnamed woman in Samaria.
1) Jesus was out of character for the average Jew. Of course He was not average!
2) He met these people in Gentile territory
3) And these people were women that he had long encounters with
4) These are two women from peoples that are despised by the Jews
4. It is a lesson for us that this woman first came to Jesus and second cried out to Him yet there was no answer. If we look at verse 22 we see that this was not a demanding cry, but a humble cry for the woman said have mercy on me. As humble and repentant as this cry was, there was no answer the first time. Verse 23 demonstrates that the woman didn’t simply make a request one time and then go home after not hearing a response. She continued her cries to the Lord.
5. It is not clear in verse 23 if the disciples were annoyed by this woman, or if they perceived that Jesus was annoyed by her, or whether they wanted Jesus to send this woman away with her requests granted. In any case, the disciples wanted Jesus to act.
6. Verse 24 and verse 26 teach a Scriptural principle- salvation is of the Jews and the blessings of God begin with the house of Israel. Jesus wants his disciples and this Canaanite woman to know that principle and that His earthly ministry is primarily to the house of Israel.
The children and little dog language of verse 26 is in no way related to what Jesus rebuked in the Sermon on the Mount. This is a conversation of precedence. Many households have children and pets of which both must be fed. It is the parent’s responsibility to feed both and the order of responsibility begins with the children and then what is left is given to the pets. Thus Jesus is stating and the woman is agreeing that Israel takes precedence in the order of responsibility and that Gentiles are next in line. “To the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
7. The woman’s pleadings are simple, “Have mercy on me O Lord” and “Lord help me.” Her requests can teach us much about prayer because what she was truly doing was praying. Her prayer was a crying out to the Lord and it was a conversation with the Lord. What all was encompassed? Repentance, Proper Direction, Reverence, Naming the Request, Persistence, Humility, Cries, Conversation…
8. We know that God does what He wills and nothing is done outside of who He is, yet if we are to make a request and expect it to be fulfilled we must do so in the proper, Scriptural manner.
This woman’s love for her daughter is highly impressive. She goes out of her way to visit and submit to a man that descended from an ancient enemy. Yet it is not her love for her daughter that is most impressive, it is her faith that is most extraordinary. She was persistent, intelligent, and simple with her cries to the Lord. Thus Jesus could say with tremendous emotion,
“O woman, great is your faith!”
The church needs women of great faith to rise up and assume motherly roles. If you have children, do your best to be a mother of great faith. Women who do not have children for a variety of reasons, do not let that hinder you from being a motherly figure in another young woman’s life. The Scripture teaches that older women are to teach younger women.
Turn with me to Titus 2:1-5 and READ.
Women, make it a goal to teach younger women and girls how to be women and mothers and do so in many small ways. Encourage them to do what God has ordained.
May the Lord be able to say with great emotion to all of the women and mothers of Fort Trial Christian Church, O woman, great is your faith!