A Woman With Great Faith
Matthew 15:21-28 (READ)
In our text, Jesus had sought to get a short rest for Himself and His disciples, especially after His recent confrontations with the Pharisees earlier in this chapter, and so He left the country for the only time during His ministry. The word “coasts” in verse 21 means “parts” or “regions”, which would signify that Jesus actually left the borders of Palestine.
But, as always, it wasn’t long before Jesus was discovered by some needy sinner. His fame had even spread into the land of Phoenicia, to the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Someone so wonderful as Jesus, and His power to heal and to save sinners, just couldn’t be concealed within the narrow borders of Palestine. This was world news beloved!
This morning we want to see the faith of one woman, of whom our Lord said had great faith. It wasn’t very often that the Lord paid anyone such a complement, so it behooves us to look into her faith more closely.
1. First, we want to see the woman of great faith (verse 22).
She was not of the seed of Israel.
But she was a Syrophoenician Woman (or a Syrian of Phoenicia) (Mark 7:26). She was a Canaanite, or a descendant of Canaan from before the conquest by Joshua. She was also a Greek and a Gentile. Therefore, she was considered by the Jews to be a heathen and a dog. Beloved, that is all of us here this morning.
Not only was she a Gentile, but she wasn’t of noble blood or worldly greatness. The best we can tell, she was just a common sinner woman. So then, it wouldn’t appear that she was a very good prospect for Christianity. And yet, she turns out to be a woman of great faith!
2. Secondly, we want to see the cry of great faith (Read verse 22 again):
It says that she cried unto Jesus.
She was sincere in coming to Jesus. Her plea to Jesus was genuine and sincere. Her heart was deeply affected, and so moved that she cried unto Jesus. The Bible says that a broken and contrite spirit the Lord will not despise. This is what is wanting in lost sinners today. There is a great need today for more genuine repentance. There is a great need for more sincerity and truth in the inward parts.
She cried for mercy.
She didn’t cry for justice. She didn’t cry for what she deserved. She didn’t cry for what she was worthy. But she cried for what she was undeserving. She cried for what she was unworthy. She cried for mercy! She cried for compassion on a helpless, miserable sinner. Yes, beloved, mercy is the sinners only plea! Have mercy on me a sinner!
She recognized Jesus as Lord.
She recognized Him as Lord over all things. Whether they be human, or spirit, or sickness or disease. She believed that all things are subject to His authority and power. But perhaps most importantly of all, she recognized Jesus as her Lord. She called Him Lord, as if to say “my Lord”. Beloved, sinners won’t see Jesus as Saviour, until they see Him as their Lord.
She also recognized Jesus as the Son of David.
This was one of the Jewish titles for their Messiah. She had heard that the Jews expected a Saviour, who would come out of David. And from what she had heard about Jesus, she believed He was that Messiah. That in itself showed remarkable faith. The world is full of skeptics, but she simply believed without a question. May God give us souls with this kind of simple, childlike faith in Jesus!
Next, we see that she had a need.
You see, her daughter was possessed with a demon spirit. We see that this woman made her daughter’s problem, her problem. Her daughter’s need for mercy, was her need for mercy. May God give us this kind of compassion for souls!
Beloved, people won’t come to Jesus until they have a need to come. Most people in the world don’t think they need Jesus. They think they are getting along just fine without Him. The sense of one’s need for Jesus only comes from Holy Spirit conviction. Therefore, we know the Holy Spirit was working in this woman’s life. May the Holy Spirit show lost sinners their need to come to Jesus for His mercy and grace. This is their only hope!
She believed that Jesus was able and willing to cast the demon out of her daughter.
She believed that Jesus had the power and was able to cast the demon out. Not only that, but she also believed that Jesus would come to her daughter’s aid. She believed that Jesus was the merciful and compassionate Saviour. Even in spite of the way Jesus responded to her, she still believed in Him. Yes, beloved, her cry was a cry of great faith!
3. Thirdly, we want to see the perseverance of great faith (verses 23-25).
Jesus seemed to ignore her cry.
Doesn’t this seem like a peculiar response from our Lord to a needy sinner? We think of Jesus as the meek and lowly, and compassionate Saviour. The One who stands ready to save. The One who is quick to help needy sinners! But here Jesus answered her heart’s cry “not a word”. Don’t think that just because Jesus doesn’t answer your first cry, that He doesn’t care about you, or that He doesn’t hear. He may be putting your faith to the test, to see what sort it is!
I wonder how many people today would take such treatment from the Lord? Most people would give up and look for help else where. Ah, but there are great blessings for those who persevere in faith!
The disciples bid Jesus to send her away, because she cried after them.
Now, that’s the spirit of Christianity! I’m telling you! The disciples sounded like some of the hard hearted Baptists of our day. Sometimes we’re like the disciples, aren’t we? Sometimes we don’t want to be troubled with sinners either. I can’t say that I’m not guilty of this. But perhaps we miss some great opportunities to witness the mighty works of God, because, like the disciples, we don’t want to be troubled with sinners!
When Jesus finally did answer her, He said He was only come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Now, we understand that as Saviour and Redeemer Jesus was sent for all of God’s elect for whom He would die on the cross. But His earthly ministry was directed unto His own nation of Israel. There He was to do mighty works among them to prove His Messiahship. In Israel He was to fulfill all righteousness, that was prophesied of Him.
After Israel rejected Him, His disciples would then turn to the Gentiles. Through the apostles, especially Paul, and the Lord’s churches, the Gospel would be preached throughout all the world. But at this time, Jesus was come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel!
Today, when we say that God has an elect people that He chose unto salvation in Christ, people get very offended at us! Yet, we never say that they are not among the elect. And we don’t say that you must be a Baptist to be one of the elect. We believe that all sinners who are saved by the grace of God are God’s elect. We don’t try to single out the elect, but we preach the gospel to every creature. But, beloved, the natural man doesn’t like to hear that God saves whom He will, and that whom He will, He hardens. The natural man insists that salvation must be all up to him and his free choice to accept or reject Jesus and His salvation. Beloved, that is the way of the old proud, and haughty sinful heart!
This heathen Gentile woman had the right spirit.
She didn’t pronounce judgment on Jesus for coming unto His own sheep, but she believed that His mercy was big enough to reach out to her also. She wasn’t offended because God had an elect people, but she just hoped that she was included in that number.
This is the kind of spirit that sinners need when they come to Jesus. We don’t come to Jesus as His Lord and judge, but we come to Jesus as wretched sinners in need of His mercy, love, and grace.
How about you this morning? Aren’t you just glad that His grace was big enough to reach down to you? Let us never judge the Lord because He is God, and because He doeth whatsoever He pleases with His own. Rather, let us be thankful that He included you and me in His salvation!!!
What did she do when she heard this “bad news” about her non-Jewish descent?
She fell on her face and worshipped Jesus! She didn’t say, “Well, if you feel that way about it Lord, then I don’t want your salvation or your help for my daughter.” No, beloved, she worshipped Jesus. Now, don’t tell me the Holy Spirit wasn’t at work in this woman’s heart! Not only that, but she said “Lord, help me!!!” “Lord, I understand what your saying, but still I know you can help me.” Now, beloved, that is great faith!
Thus, we that this woman had great perseverance of faith in Jesus.
4. The wisdom of great faith (Read verses 26-27).
Let’s notice the wisdom in this woman’s response to Jesus.
She said “Truth, Lord.”
She acknowledged that what Jesus said was true. She believed that Jesus was speaking the truth. True wisdom will believe and acknowledge that the Words of Jesus are true. Whether those words seem favorable to our natural man or not. No doubt Jesus’ words to this woman would have been very grievous. But she said “Truth, Lord.” We may not understand Jesus’ words, or they might be hard sayings to hear, but may the Lord help us to say with this woman, “Truth, Lord.” Yes, it takes the wisdom of faith to believe and to receive the truth as it is in Jesus.
In wisdom she also recognized Jesus as Lord, even after He spoke unfavorably to her. True wisdom will perceive that Jesus is no ordinary man. True spiritual wisdom will perceive that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore, true wisdom will bow before the Lord of glory and worship Him, regardless of how He responds to our prayers and petitions.
Perhaps her greatest show of wisdom was her faith in the boundless grace of God.
She knew that Jesus, the bread of Heaven, was intended for the Jew first. She knew that! But she also perceived that the grace of Jesus was much too great to be contained within those narrow boundaries of Palestine. She seemed to understand the purpose of God, that the grace of God would also fall out to the dogs, or that is, to the Gentiles of which she was one.
She also believed that God’s grace was great and powerful. She believed that even the “crumbs” of grace that fell from her Master’s table, were sufficient to save her soul, and to heal her daughter.
And finally, she believed that the grace of Jesus could not refuse a humble and contrite spirit, who earnestly sought after His mercies. I believe in a limited atonement, but God sets those limits, and not men. Mark it down, anyone who will come to Jesus as this woman came to Him, they will surely find His saving grace and mercy.
5. Fifthly, we want to notice the blessings of great faith (verse 28).
Few people ever received such great recognition from the Lord as this woman received.
The Lord was moved by her sincere and humble cry of faith.
The Lord won’t refuse the sincere and humble cry of contrite hearts who come unto Him by faith, seeking His mercy and grace. All who come unto Him, He will in no wise cast out!
The Lord admired the perseverance of her faith.
I don’t understand all about it, but it seems to me that this woman was a lost sinner woman before she met Jesus in our text, and she went away a woman of great faith, which could only be said of a saved sinner.
We can’t fully explain all the events that brought about her salvation. But beloved, I believe we can safely say that she was saved. Sometimes we Baptists get too hung up on the mechanics of salvation. The blind man in John 9 didn’t know all the answers to what happened to Him, but all he knew was, once he was blind but now he could see. And this woman, through all the discouragements that the Lord through at her, she persevered in faith until the Lord blessed her.
Jesus also honored and blessed the wisdom of her faith.
This woman could not have answered with more wisdom than she did. Her answers showed that the Holy Spirit was working in her heart. Her answers showed that she was a humble and penitent sinner. Her answers showed that she had true faith that was according to knowledge. Her answers showed that she had faith in Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.
As a result, Jesus gave this woman her petition. Great faith will receive great things from the Lord. Faith receives Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Great faith receives great miracles and blessings from the Lord in answered petitions! And great faith will receive the Lord’s recognition and praise.
How is our faith this morning?
Have we come to Jesus as penitent sinners, crying, as it were, for mercy? Do we recognize Him as our Lord? Do we have saving faith to believe that He is the Son of David?
Do we have great faith that cries unto the Lord out of a sincere heart, that perseveres in prayer, and that has great wisdom to believe and receive our Lord’s word?
May the Lord increase our faith this morning, so that will be able to serve the Lord mightily, and see His great miracles of salvation and the healing of sin sick souls.