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Delivering the Syrophoenician’s Daughter

I. OBSERVATION

A. Passage Selected: Matt. 15:21-28

B. Progression Stated: Biographical and Ideological

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context

Jesus He wanted to be alone, but couldn’t escape the crowds and people in need so He goes to Tyre. This is the only time He left Israel during his ministry.

The discussion on kosher food and defilement in the previous context is very related to our story. The importance of these things was that they made Israel separate from the rest of the world. But Jesus is going to do away with some of these distinctives. In Jn 4, with the woman at the well, Jesus foretells the doing away with worship in Jerusalem. Here we have a removing of the dietary laws.

This miracle is a hinge to show the movement from the Jews to the Gentiles.

She has everything going against her. She is a Gentile woman - a Canaanite woman - with a demon possessed daughter. There are many barriers - racial, social, cultural, spiritual.

2. Content
a. The plea of the woman 15:21-22

“Lord, Son of David...” She is coming with understanding of who He really is. This is very impressive. But Jesus doesn’t answer her. Why not? I think He is leading her along to develop the understanding of the disciples. He is setting up what is going to happen. He will respond to her later.

b. The pride of the disciples 15:23

The disciples were annoyed. Over and over again we see their great pastoral hearts. She is persistent.

c. The place of the woman 15:24

Jesus was sent only to minister to Israel. Rom 15:8 He came to make a legitimate offer of the kingdom to Israel.

d. The persistence of the woman 15:25-27

(1) Her reverence

She has understanding and faith. (vs 25)

(2) His rejection

Who were the children? Who were the dogs? Is this politically incorrect language? Gentiles were dogs to the Jews. This argues for authenticity of the scriptures because it would be tempting to tone down Jesus’ seemingly cruel words here.

(3) Her response

She responds with amazing understanding and faith. She is asking if Jewish failure can’s result in Gentile blessing. Can’t Gentiles have what Jews reject. She reveals what God is doing in the world. Israel’s failure will result in Gentile blessing. Rom 9-11. He fed 5000 Jews, now he will go feed 4000 Gentiles. There are no more restrictions on the basis of food. Peter didn’t learn this till Acts 10. Jesus doesn’t call Gentiles “dogs” anymore because they are no longer outsiders.

Matt 8:, Luke 7:, John 4:, Matt 16:21f. All miracles of healing of Gentiles. All done from a distance. Gentiles were viewed as far away and Jews as being near. There may be some significance to this.

e. The power shown to the woman 15:28

(1) Jesus hails her faith

(2) Jesus heals her daughter

II. INTERPRETATION

  • Israel has rejected the provision of Christ which is now becoming available more openly to the Gentiles. Salvation is still of the Jews, but it is now available to Gentiles. How could God bring such good out of such rejection? God causes all things to work together for good.

    III. APPLICATIONS

  • Faith is the great equalizer of cultural and personal backgrounds.
  • Spiritual insight leads to spiritual blessing.
  • Rejection of privileged responsibility may bring replacement in God’s service. (a few of the parables show this also.)
  • We do have the privilege of bringing our troubles to God.
  • There is a place for well grounded boldness in the Lord. She doesn’t quit. He wants me to be bold in coming.
  • She is bold, but not proud. She is humble and understands she is a “dog.” She didn’t say, “Can’t you have other children?” We as Gentiles can’t afford to get cocky. Rom 11 says that if the wild branches that get grafted in get cocky, they will be cut out.
  • Success in prayer comes from a humble approach.
  • Beware of a lack of compassion (disciples’ model)
  • There are a lot of “little people” who know a lot of theology and live it.
  • Related Topics: Miracles