A couple weeks ago Jesus was in the wilderness with the disciples hoping to get away for some quiet time, kind of a mini-retreat. But someone was watching. When they arrived there they were 5,000 plus people waiting to be healed…and fed. The disciples came to Jesus then and asked him to send them all away so they could find shelter and food for the night.
That time Jesus said, “They don’t have to go away. You feed them.” Today the disciples come to him again with a demand. “She’s driving us crazy. Please take care of her. She’s a major pain.”
Again Jesus doesn’t respond the way the disciples wanted him to. He said, “I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.” This time he didn’t tell them to take care of the problem. But, what if he was testing them to see how they would take care of this woman’s needs.
What if he wanted to see what they had learned in the wilderness when he asked them to take care of the folks who had followed them? What if he was checking to see if they were listening when he responded to the Pharisees with their questions about what to eat and the washing of hands?
Some folks are troubled by the response Jesus gave to the woman when she came right up to him and he the same as called her a “dog”. There are those who think because Jesus was ‘human’ that he was still “learning” about his work here with God’s people.
But don’t you think if Jesus is also divine that he would know all this? So, that’s why I am proposing that Jesus was seeing if the disciples had learned the lesson he was trying to teach them in the wilderness. Apparently they hadn’t. They were still living with their prejudices.
She was a woman for one thing and a Canaanite for another. It wasn’t proper for them to speak to her because she was a woman and to add something else to the mix God had said no one was to have anything to do with the people of Canaan.
But Jesus didn’t come just for the Jews but he came for all those who trusted in God and repented of their sinful lives.
Matthew’s gospel doesn’t give us enough insight into Jesus’ intent so we have to speculate. So what do you think?
I think that may be why God seems to not answer some of our prayers such as when we pray for food for those starving in Somalia and Ethiopia. Maybe he’s waiting to see if we’ve learned anything from the lessons Jesus taught us in the Word.
I wonder sometimes if God thinks the words Jesus spoke to Peter, “Are you willfully stupid?” We have to admit that sometimes it does take us a while to get his Message.
So, maybe the lesson for all of us today is the same as it was a couple weeks ago, “You take care of it. You feed them. You give them shelter. You give them a coat. You grant them mercy.”
Aren’t there times when we all wonder if God is even listening to our prayers? But, look how long the Israelites had to wait to see how God’s plan for their survival. Who would have guessed that Joseph being sold into slavery was going to work out for their good?
And even when God’s people turned their backs on him he didn’t throw them out. As stubborn as they were, He still granted them his mercy and grace.
Friends, that’s the Good News for us. As stubborn and hard-hearted as we all are God is still willing to grant us his mercy and grace.
All we have to do is trust in God and believe that Jesus is interceding for us. That’s why our prayers are so important, even when we say a simple prayer like, “Jesus, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” God hears our prayers and he knows what’s in our hearts.
The question is do we get it. Do we believe what we read and hear in God’s Word? Friends, every day, every hour we need to pray for God’s mercy and His grace. We need to pray for the crumbs off God’s table because that’s enough for us.
Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace. Amen.