Sermon – Matthew 15.21-28 (Lent 2 – 2021)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us, we beseech You, by Your Holy Spirit, that He may strengthen our hearts and confirm our faith and hope in Your grace and mercy, so that, although we have reason to fear because of our conscience, our sin, and our unworthiness, we may nevertheless, with the woman of Canaan, hold fast to Your grace, and in every trial and temptation find You a present help and refuge; through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”  23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”  24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

These are Your words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

God’s Will Be Done Through Trials

Dear fellow redeemed,

It’s a dreadful trial this Canaanite woman was going through. Her daughter was suffering from demon possession. We don’t know the details in this specific case. In other examples of demon possession in Scripture, we hear people exhibiting superhuman strength, and practicing divination, and foretelling the future. The spirit may cause muteness and blindness. They might make their subjects seize. They might throw the bodies of their host into harm such as into fire or water aiming to kill him or her. We only know by the description of the mother was that it was very severe case of demon possession.

It is heart-wrenching for any parent to see their child suffering so greatly. And with compassion we look upon that Canaanite woman.

It is right to be disappointed in the disciples for not showing compassion on the woman. They just wanted to send this Canaanite woman away. It is certain that Jesus, our God of love and mercy, was moved with compassion for the woman. However, for a time He doesn’t show His compassion in order that He may test and strengthen her faith.

God allows trials to enter our lives, but as we endure them, we ought to remember that our Lord is merciful and loving. He has compassion on us in all our afflictions. And like a loving Father, He grieves at our afflictions. Yet, He seeks to turns those trials into blessings for us. He has good purposes behind those trials that He allows to come upon us. And one of the purposes of our trials is to repent, admit our sin and weakness, and go to Him for our help and salvation.

The woman in our text is a great example of one who was well taught by God through trial. What is this example? First, she didn’t trick herself into thinking that she was capable of handling it on her own. She recognized her own weakness and helplessness. Secondly, she looked to Christ for her aid. And how she apprehended Him is of particular importance to us. Therefore, through this trial, the Lord strengthens her, her faith is proved, and Jesus is amazed by her faith.

The woman’s daughter was possessed by a demon. Now, there are many sorts of trials people go through. Some are more difficult than others. Some make us feel more helpless than others. This trial that this mother was going through was a helpless situation. What These trials remind us of our sin, of our mortality, of our weakness. In this instance the woman is brought to the realization of the power of the devil. It had such a hold on her daughter, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She had to turn to one who could help.

Likewise, in our trials, we should allow ourselves to be reminded of our sin, our mortality, our weakness, and the strength of our enemies such as the devil, the strength of sin, and its hold that it wants to have on us.

Yet how often do we struggle through a trial without acknowledging these things? How often do we miss the opportunities to be reminded to learn of our weaknesses? How often do we push through an affliction in our lives without repentance for our sins. For our lives are full of idols upon which we lean. Our lives are full of things we look for our help as god. We have a tendency to overestimate our own strength and might and reason and abilities. We are full of pride, thinking that we have the strength to handle everything. We might push through a trial with the goal to show how strong we are. When that famous quote is used, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” how often is the focus on the first part “I can do all things,” and not the second which says that it is Christ who strengthens us to endure trials.

The Canaanite woman could have thought, I need to do something to fix this. Or I need to contribute something to solving this bad situation. I must show myself worthy in order to seek and get the help of Jesus. But she didn’t think or act in this way at all. Instead, despaired of her own strength, looked to Christ, and pleaded upon the mercy of Christ.

So when we suffer health troubles, suffer family conflicts, when we suffer the death of loved ones, the loss of a job, etc., learn from your trials, repent, and recognize your weakness, the strength of your enemies, and that your help must come from outside of you.

Your help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. This is where the Canaanite woman turned. She turned to Jesus, whom she knew to be the Lord, the Son of David, the Messiah. But notice how she apprehends Him, how she looks to Him, and trusts Him. She relies upon the word about Him being merciful and kind. She doesn’t take hold of what she sees. She sees her Lord ignoring her, slighting her, and insulting her. But she apprehends Him by what she hears about Him in the Word. She knows that He has come for the salvation not just of the Jews, but also for the world. She knows that He is merciful and is compassionate to her, because of the Word. And so on account of that Word she prays to Him, for He has the power and authority over the devil. This is the faith that impressed Jesus. She did not base her beliefs about Jesus upon her circumstances in life.

Let us learn from this, because how often do we fail to use our Lord’s name in prayer, to come to Him in our every need? Perhaps you think that your troubles mean that God does not love you. That is a lie. Many will use affliction and trial as a reason to separate themselves from God, to turn from Him, and to neglect His Word. How many people think that they need to straighten out their lives on their own two feet first before they can come to church, and before they can come to God in prayer.

But draw near to God, open your ears to God’s Word in trial, and call upon His name. Do not doubt whether He is listening to you, or whether He cares about you. Even if He seems to be distant, and is not paying any mind you and your trials, trust what the Word of God says about His love for you.

He was crucified for you to save you from sin, death, and the devil! He gave up His life into death on the cross so that you may have eternal life with Him. What great love He has for you. Surely He has compassion on you in all your in all your trials.

He might miraculously help you in your troubles. Often He gives you people to help you in your need, family, friends, your pastor, your brothers and sisters in the congregation. And always, He gives you what you have already been given in your baptism. He gives you His Holy Spirit through His Word, to comfort you and strengthen you, that you knowing you are weak rest in the strength and love of God, which will never fail you.

Therefore, see that God uses these trials to draw us closer to Him and to strengthen our faith. Through them He kicks out from underneath us every idol we may depend on, and every bit of self-reliance. We find that they do not help us, and that we are weaker than we think. He shows us that we need Him to be our Lord. And so we repent, and turn to the promises of God’s Word. Clinging to them, we cling to Christ. He is our strength, our rock, and our refuge.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son…

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