Matthew 15:21-28 Persistent Faith

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Persistent Faith

Jesus, I don’t really have the motivation or drive to badger you for blessing.  Part of it is that I have trouble thinking that I should receive anything.  Of course you bring joy to people, but why would you bring joy to me?  Of course you heal people, but why would you bring healing to me?  Yet in the Bible it says if we petition you, you will answer.  Why must we petition?  Why can’t we just ask once and have done with it?  Why did this woman from Tyre or Sidon have to keep pressing?  Is it to show our dependency?  Is it to show that we have no-one else to whom to turn?  Yet, this persistence is seen as faith – is our faith weak when we give up asking?  I guess it is.  We need to have faith that keeps banging on the gates of heaven until they will open up.  It is like any relationship.  If one is not persistent, the relationship does not grow.  If one does not persevere, there is no reward.  I have known petulant and self-absorbed people who insist on being pursued, and I have known shallow and arrogant people who insist on being heard.  It seems the experience with both extremes leaves me wary.  The drain of relating to narcissists has tainted my experience.  You are no narcissist, but I bring my past experience to this.  You do not require persistence because of self-obsession.  You require persistence because it develops resilience in faith.  You require persistence because it develops maturity.  Help me to have the kind of faith that keeps coming back to you as the solution.  Help me not to look elsewhere for distractions or false solutions.

One area I struggle with at the moment is the juggernaut of the normalizing of homosexual relations which is advancing through society.  I sometimes see myself on the ‘wrong side of history’.  I ask you to show us ways to make a stand for what is right, but we are seen as hateful and intolerant.  Ironically, a live and let live stance was not possible.  We hoped by ignoring the issue it would remain a private issue for homosexuals to live out behind closed doors.  However, it’s leading to public demands in areas of hiring, adoption, and schooling that are engulfing those of us who don’t agree.  We are becoming the oppressed minority and homosexual activists own the language and the power in the debate.  We can not retreat into our shells.  Yet I don’t know how to approach the issue.  I feel like an insignificant supplicant before your throne.  Give my school, my home and my church insight into how to deal with the problem.  I must remember to ask you again.  I have to seek you in order to find a solution to this seemingly insurmountable problem of those who do not accept sin as righteous are deemed hateful and anathema.

Questions

  1. What was Jesus’ initial response to the Syro-phoenician woman?
  2. What changed his mind?
  3. Why was this remarkable?
  4. How is our faith to be like the woman in the passage?
  5. Why do we fall short of her example?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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