Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Lent II, February 25, 2018 - St. Matthew 15:21-28

Back to blog

Posted: Sunday, February 25th, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

Christmas introduces us to our Redeemer. Christ Jesus, Yahveh Himself, Israel’s God, has come down from heaven to save us. He has come to take us to heaven to dwell with Him there. He’s come to save us from all the evil of this world and give us new life in paradise of the blessed. He is truly the best friend we can have.

Christmas introduces us to our Friend, and Lent introduces us to our enemy. He is that old evil foe who means deadly woe. Last Sunday the devil bared his fangs as he attempted not once, not twice, but 3 times to shove God off His throne by tempting God’s Son. He failed. But he did not stop making war against God. Jesus fought him throughout His ministry.

This Canaanite woman had a tenuous relationship with Israel. God commanded Joshua to destroy them all. But because of their unbelief they were unable to take all the land. The Canaanites kept possession of what we now call Lebanon. They are the Phœnicians of history. From their colony Carthage they troubled Rome, and back home they troubled God’s people, for that wicked Queen Jezebel who corrupted King Ahab and refused to repent in the face of Elijah was 1 of them.

Yet Elijah had gone to them. He had been in this very region Jesus was now in. He went to a widow who was getting ready to feed her son sticks. God provided for her. Her flour did not run out. Her oil jug did not go empty. But her son got sick and died. Elijah laid on the child and prayed for him to return to life. God answered. God raised him. And the woman confessed Israel’s God is true God. She turned her back on the satanic religion of the Ba’als and worshiped Yahveh alone.

Now Yahveh Himself comes to this place. He meets another woman. We don’t know if she was a widow, she had a daughter instead of a son, her food had not run out, but her life was miserable. For 1 of the devil’s demons had possessed her daughter. In her was made known what is true of all: sin makes us the devil’s possession. With her he made it clear: he was in full control, and he wasn’t going to let go. The little girl was at his cruel mercy.

So the woman did what was truly meet, right, and salutary. She heard Jesus was there. He wanted a vacation, but she would not allow it. She went to Him and made sure He heard her coming. She was shouting at Him from afar, from the second she caught a glimpse of Him. She called on Him to have mercy on her, and called Him not Jesus, but LORD, Yahveh, Son of David. She’s not even an Israelite yet she knows exactly Who He is. And she keeps shouting it. She believes. She desires God’s mercy. She believes He is God Who will have mercy on her.

But He doesn’t act like it. He ignored her. He didn’t answer. She kept shouting, kept getting closer. The Apostles got annoyed. They who tried to chase away little kids from smothering Him with affection most certainly wanted no interruption from Gentile gals while on vacation. They thought He was in full agreement when He told them He was only sent to Israel’s lost sheep. They thought they were just sent to Jacob’s descendants. She was a Gentile; therefore He was not for her.

She knew better. She caught up to Him. He allowed her to reach Him. In humble worship she fell before Him. She called Him Yahveh. Her posture indicated that she was calling this man the Divine Name. She called on Him to do the very thing God loves to do: Help people. God loves to help people. She called on Him to do it. It is His promise. He had no choice.

But He was not done exercising her faith. He had to teach the disciples a lesson too. So He said: “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the house-dogs.” The disciples heard this: “I’m not going to help you. Israel is God’s child and you’re a Gentile. No food for you.” For Jews thought of Gentiles as dogs. She heard him correctly. A dog gets to eat the table scraps! More than that, she was a lost sheep of Israel’s house. For Israel is not a genetic nation, but the household of faith in Christ. He teaches us in John 8 that Israel, Abraham’s children, are those who did what Abraham do. What did He do? He believed in Christ.

So He healed her daughter. From afar He cast out the demon. God fought for her and won. He helped her. He came to her aid. He had mercy on her. In His loving-kindness He threw the enemy out of the little girl. He rewarded her mother’s faith. He taught the disciples that He is come for all people, not just for them. He taught us that He is victorious over the devil. He taught us to be persistent in prayer.

He is victorious over the devil. This is why He came down from heaven. The devil enslaved us, and we cannot free ourselves. It’s our own fault. Man turned his back on his Creator. God justly could have destroyed us. He decided to rescue us. We tossed off His image and likeness of perfection and life for our own image of sin and death. He decided to restore us to His image and likeness of perfection and life. So the serpent’s head had to be crushed. He possessed a snake to tempt us, and you crush a snake’s head to kill it to destroy its power. The devil bruised His heel in the process, for he killed Him with The Cross. Yet that same Cross crushed his power. Christ died, and you live. Christ lives again, and you go free to live forever with Him.

He did this for you, O Gentile. He is descended from Israel, but Israel was never meant to be about Jacob’s bloodline. Gentiles were circumcised with Abraham when God instituted the rite. The prophet Isaiah foretold the day the Gentiles would come to Him. On Epiphany we heard him say: “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” They come, we come, we believe Abraham’s Son Jesus is our Savior. This is the work he did. He believed Messiah would come, and thus he went to the promised land. And he was saved by faith. You too are saved by faith, faith which believes God is help, is mercy, is your Rescue from Satan.

But faith is tested at times. God does not answer prayer the way we want or when we want. That little prayer, “Thy will be done,” teaches us that we must leave to Him the way He answers prayer. He knows far better than we do what we need and when we’ll need it, and how we will best receive it. He often desires to exercise our faith in Him, that it not become slow and cold. He wants us to cling to His Cross, painful as it may be, to recognize He will save at the right time, in the right way. So these 2 stanzas from “Salvation unto Us Is Come,” sadly omitted from our hymnals, sing (WH 237:11-12):

Hope waits for the accepted hour— Till God give joy for mourning, When He displays his healing pow’r, Thy sighs to songs are turning; Thy needs are known unto thy Lord, And He is faithful to His word, This is our hope’s foundation.

Though it may seem, He hears thee not, Count not thyself forsaken; Thy wants are ne’er by Him forgot, Let this thy hope awaken; His word is sure, here is thy stay. And though thy flesh say only nay, Let not thy faith be shaken.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

Add a comment

Back to top