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Recognized by a Canaanite woman

Scripture: Matthew 15:1-28

Aim: To show that the hungering, thirsty, believing heart will receive blessing from Christ.

Golden Text: “But he answered and said, it is not meant to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15;26-27).

Jesus left Gennesaret, on the east of the Sea of Galilee, and returned to Galilee. A group of Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem accosted Him with a question: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” (15:1-2).

Jesus asked them a question in answer: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (15:3-6).

He further declared that they disobeyed God’s command concerning parents and children. It had gotten to the point that children were allowed to say that if they gave anything to their parents, they should consider it a gift from the children. They dismissed any obligation of children to the parents contrary to God’s commands.

Jesus called them “hypocrites” and that Isaiah had prophesied correctly about them (vs. 7).

I. Jesus warned the people not to follow the commandments of men instead of following the commandments of God (Matthew 15:8-18). Jesus teaching was clear. First, this people draw near with the mouth, but their heart is from God (vs. 8).

Second, their worship is vain (empty, worthless, useless) because they seek to worship by following the commands of men, rather than the commands of God regarding worship (vs. 9).

Third, Jesus told the people that the thing that defiles a man is what comes out of his heart, not his mouth (vs. 1, 18). Jesus had to explain what He meant to the disciples (vs. 12-20). Not unwashed hands, but a bad heart, brings defilement (vs. 20).

II. Jesus left Galilee and went to the area of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28). Here Jesus was confronted by a Canaanite woman crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil” (demon, vs. 22).

Jesus ignored her (vs. 23). The disciples were annoyed by her following them and calling out for Christ to have mercy on her (vs. 23). Jesus ignored them! He turned to the woman and spoke. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (vs. 24).

The woman came and “Worshipped him.” Evidently she bowed before Him is humble submission to Him. She then pleaded, “Lord, help me” (vs. 25).

Jesus answered in the words of the above text. He was telling her that He came to the house of Israel. The blessings and message He brought was to Israelites. Evidently, He was testing her.

She responded that even the little dogs under the table could eat the crumbs that fell (vs. 27). In other words, she was saying to Jesus that she knew she was not a Jew, she knew she was not worthy, but still Jesus could give her some “crumbs,” if He would (vs. 27).

Jesus responded, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” Her daughter was healed that very hour (vs. 28).

Jesus never responds positively to disobedience and doubt. The Jewish leaders did not believe that Jesus was the Son of David (the Messiah). This woman did. She exhibited humble, persistent faith and Jesus rewarded her.

It is important to remember that God looks on the heart, not on the thinking or speaking. He sees things as they really are and responds to true faith and submission to His will.

We today may have a special blessing from the Savior simply by believing in Him and obeying His will as it is revealed to us.