Jack Graham - A Mother's Faith
Jesus always, always, always responds to faith! God responds to genuine faith. In fact, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," And God is the "rewarder of those who diligently seek Him". God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We have a beautiful example on this Mother's Day morn of a mother, a woman who diligently sought Christ and experienced a miracle, not only for her but for her daughter. We meet a woman who's faith delighted the Lord Jesus so much that Jesus when He observed her faith, He said, "O woman, great is your faith"! Great faith!
Now the Bible talks about different kinds of faith. The Bible talks about saving faith, that "We are saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ". The Bible talks about obedient faith. The Bible talks about strong faith and bold faith and sincere faith. And over and over the Bible is a faith Book. If you want to build your faith, get into the Word of God. Saturate your heart, your mind with God's Word, because "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God".
So we're taking God's Word and in particular experiences in the life of Christ and how He built faith into people of all kinds, both believers and unbelievers. The mother, the woman that you're about to meet in the New Testament here is unnamed and unknown. She was an outsider, an outlier in that she was not a part of the Jewish nation, the household of faith. In fact she was a Gentile, unbeliever, and in one sense was considered an outcast. But because of her faith, she experienced this miracle and the deliverance of her daughter from powerful demon forces.
Let's look at it in chapter 15, beginning at verse 21: "And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon". This apparently was to be a time of retreat and relaxation for Christ. With the crowds and the pressure of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples walked over forty miles outside the nation of Israel. This is the only time Jesus ever left the country side of Israel, His homeland. The one and only time when Jesus went outside of Israel. And yet what a reminder that is that we all have a responsibility to bring the message of Jesus to the world. So Jesus stepped outside His normal traffic pattern and He went to the world. And verse 22 says: "And behold". You know what that means? "Hey, watch this! Look at this"!
So I want you to imagine this scene in your eyes and in your heart. "A Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying (meaning she was shouting and crying over and over again these words) 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.' But he did not answer her a word. And the disciples came and begged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying out after us.'" These disciples, they still just don't get it. I mean when the little children crawled up into Jesus' lap, they were shooing the children away. "Get away, don't bother us. Get away from me kid, you bother me"! You know, that kind of attitude.
And then this woman, this poor Gentile woman who's crying out to Jesus, needing help desperately for her child, these guys are annoyed. They're just, you know, ticked off that they're trying to get some rest and here comes this woman. She won't stop shouting. "Send her away"! But Jesus answered: "'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' But she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.'" Just a simple cry, a desperate plea that anyone can pray to Jesus today. "Lord, help me. Lord, save me. Lord, deliver my daughter". In verse 26: "He answered, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.' She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered here, 'O woman, great (say it!) great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed instantly".
What an episode in the life of Jesus unlike any other experience we see in all of the New Testament! A woman who is described as having great faith. Literally mega-faith! The Greek word for great in the New Testament is mega. She had a megawatt faith! "Great is your faith"! What made this woman's faith great? Why did Jesus delight in her faith? Why was He so pleased at the way this woman came to Him? One, she exhibits a desperate faith, and so should we. A desperate faith, for verse 22 she is exclaiming, "Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy, have mercy on me"! Her faith was dependant and desperate; obviously humble. It is raw, it is real and it is repentant in that she's crying out for mercy. I mentioned earlier that this woman was an outsider, an outlier, a Gentile person, a Canaanite woman.
The Canaanites were vile and wicked people. We have been to Israel many times and when we go, we always go to a place where Canaanites once occupied inside of Israel, and there you can still see on the ground altars from Moloch and others false deities where babies, their own children were offered as blood sacrifices to their false gods. They were so vile and wicked, disgusting, these people, that God said to His people Israel exterminate them. God judged these people severely. Canaanites. This woman was a Canaanite castoff. She was shamed by her own sin. No doubt, she was a pagan and an idle worshiper. Probably because they worshipped such evil gods, an immoral woman! But somehow she had heard about Jesus. Someone told her about Jesus, the promised Messiah, for she calls Him the Son of David which is a Messianic title. The Promised One, the Son of David. Somehow she knew, and exhibits at the outset not mega-faith but some faith.
You know, it's not so much great faith that we need, but faith in a great God that we need! But she had faith and she was taking steps of faith to Jesus. And she shamelessly came to Jesus because she was desperate. Her daughter was severely demonized! Demon possessed. One reason this woman was so desperate was she was disturbed when she must have realized that she was in great part responsible for her daughter's demonized condition. After all, she is the one who introduced the idols and the pagan worship into her Canaanite house. There's no mention of a man in this passage. Did she have a husband? Had her husband left her? We know she had this daughter. And we know she must have been an immoral woman in many ways because as I noted earlier the idolatry of the Canaanites was absolutely filthy. It was false worship. And she had invited evil into her life and, therefore, into the life of her child.
Sometimes parents don't understand the impact of the choices they make on their children! Little eyes are watching you. Always little ears listening to you. Your example speaks much louder than your words. Adults, for example, who drink alcohol in front of their kids, which is an entry drug to drugs of all kinds. Adults who drink alcohol in front of their kids wonder why their kids may grow up to have a problem with alcohol. When parents are fighting and arguing and shouting obscenities and blasphemies in a home, don't be surprised if those same blasphemies and obscenities show up in the mouths of your children! If you watch questionable, objectionable programming on your television, on your computer, on your handheld device, however, I'm telling you, you are inviting the hordes of hell into your home!
Your influence as a mom and as a dad is critical. And what's true on the negative side, of course, is true on the positive side. Because when you are a woman of faith, when you live a God-fearing life, when you are a mom who loves Jesus and lives for Jesus, and teaches and trains your children God's Word, when you pray for your children, when you bring your children to church, not just send them but bring your children with you when you come to worship, and then you go home and you're not a critic, you're a worshiper! You have experienced the presence of God in the Word of God, in the worship of Jesus Christ! And your children are listening and they see how important it is that you are a believer! It's so helpful, because remember, it's your influence that counts the most for Christ.
And if you have a mother or you had a mother that's godly and dedicated, maybe you thought she was too restrictive, but she loved you enough to tell you "no", to discipline you when you were wrong, to pray for you when you were a prodigal, if you had a mom like that, you need to get down on your knees and thank God everyday for the godly influence in your life! Keep in mind, it is easier to build a child than to repair an adult. Easier to build a child than to repair an adult. Build your children to believe! Moms, it is impossible to measure your influence when you are a woman of faith! Praying for your children, protecting your children. If it's the husband, the dad's primary role to provide for your children, it is the mom's primary role in my view and in the Scripture to protect your children. It's okay that you're a mama bear sometimes to protect your children, to go up against the world for your children!
Some of you ought to say, "How dare you, Satan, come against my child"! We're going to keep fighting for our children! We're not going to allow the devil to have this generation and generations to come! We're going to fight the good fight of faith! And we're going to pray and protect our children in the power of Christ! This woman was desperate for mercy, because she had failed as a mother, and now she had control of her daughter. She's repentant. "Have mercy, have mercy on me". We're talking about faith and how to have faith. Some of you are having trouble believing. Did you know in the Bible faith and repentance are inseparable linked? Vitally connected! And eternally connected! Faith and repentance. Really, two sides of the same coin. You can't repent without believing and you can't believe without repenting. And if you're having trouble believing, start with repenting! Because so often our so-called problems with believing are simply smokescreens, excuses for sin in our own live.
So we start with repentance, and when we truly repent, turn from our sin and trust in Christ then we also believe. So she came with determined and desperate faith. Secondly, she came with determined faith. Verse 25 says she just kept coming at Jesus, even when there were many obstacles in front of her. I've already said that she had obstacle in that she was an outsider, she was a Gentile. She didn't have the privilege of growing up in a godly home. That's a huge obstacle. She had this Satan problem in her life in her home, so she had Satan against her! She had a problem with her daughter. If you have a child, you know, Have you heard it said, "You're only as happy as your most unhappy child".
And now she is unhappy because her daughter is severely beaten and broken by this demon spirit that is living in her. And not only that, but these disciples, these dudes, they just wanted to get rid of her! She was just an object, she was just an obstacle! They had this mentality that she wasn't good enough! And it appears at the outset that she even had the problem of God! That Jesus was resisting her, because when she came crying to Jesus, what did the Bible say that Jesus did? It says, verse 23, "He didn't answer her a word". He gave her the silent treatment. Sounds cruel, doesn't it? This doesn't sound like the Jesus we know! Why is Jesus resisting this woman? Why is He giving her nothing but cold stone silence? I'll tell you why, He's drawing out her faith.
Hebrews 11:6, "God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him". He knew exactly what He was going to do already. He knew there was faith in there and He is bringing it out to teach His disciples and all of us a lesson about this daring, determined faith that will never give up! Tenacious, relentless faith that keeps crying out to God no matter what! Have you ever prayed and wondered why you got nothing but silence? Sure you have! If you've prayed, you've wondered does Jesus care? Why is He not doing anything? Why is He not saying anything? Why am I getting nothing? And you've heard many times, no doubt, that when we pray, God always answers prayer. Sometimes He says no, and He does, and sometimes God says yes, and then sometimes God says wait a while. Put it like this: God says at times no because the request is wrong.
You ought to thank God for unanswered prayer, because you look back now and you realize had God answered that prayer, it wouldn't have been the best thing, the right thing. God knows. Sometimes God says no, sometimes God says slow down, because He's building our patience and He's building our character. And in His own way and in His own time He'll bring about the answer. Maybe God's building faith in our life, wants us to keep praying, keep crying out to God, seeking God. At other times God says Go: it's green light, and the answer comes and you're on you way. Other times, as in this case Jesus says whoa! That's what He said, "Whoa, what incredible faith this woman has"! He said, "I've not seen such faith in all of Israel".
You see, the Israelites, some of us who have grown up in our faith, maybe we've heard it again and again and again and again, and you've heard a lot of preaching and a lot of teaching and you've had a lot of privileges and you've heard it so many times, you're sort of dull to it. But when Jesus saw the faith of this outlying woman, this outcast, this outsider, when He saw this woman who had so little opportunity, come and believe, He was just taken! And I'm certain that a big smile crossed His bronzed face as He is celebrating the great faith of this woman! And as a result of this determined faith, in the face of even seeming indifference, Jesus answered her prayer.
The Bible says pray. Jesus said this, "Pray always and do not give up. Do not quit". If you're praying for your husband to come to Christ, don't give up. Keep praying. So we need to make sure when we pray, we pray desperately. That's what Jesus is always doing. He's drawing out our faith. And in this case He said, He even called this woman a dog. What is that all about? He said, "It's wrong to take food from the master's table and give it to dogs". Now Jesus did not use the word for dogs that reference the scavenger dogs that ran in packs in the streets of the ancient world. These were mangy, foaming at the mouth, creatures. You didn't want to have any part of those kind of dogs.
Jesus used another word for dog. It was diminutive form which meant little puppy. Puppy dogs that you have in your house. And you have to read the tone in scripture as well as the truth in scripture, and there's no question here the tone of Jesus was gracious. He was saying, "You can't take first what is given to the master's table, being the world of Israel and give it to the little puppies around the table". We've got little puppies that come around our table at our house, and they always get something. I always get in trouble because I'm giving the dogs stuff from the table. But that's the illustration! And you know what the woman, she could have walked off and said, "You called me a dog? Is that what you said? You called me a dog? I've heard that before! I've been called worst names".
No, that woman showed true faith. She just owned it. She said, "Okay, okay, I'm a dog. But I need You, Jesus. You're the only one who can help me. My daughter needs you". Incredible, isn't it? Jesus loves her because of her great faith, and therefore it was a delivering faith. It was said that the child was instantly healed. What do we learn from this great story? Jesus response to faith. When you trust in Him, and trust in His promises, believing in Him, He will save, He will deliver, He will forgive. We learn that there's no person too far away from God for Him to save, and that includes you and me. No person too far away, too far gone! No child to demonized that cannot yet be reached! You may not be demonized, but some of you are facing bondage in your life!
And Jesus and Jesus only can break the chains of darkness in your life! That's faith! It's the faith that saves! "For by grace are you saved", Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourself; it's the gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast". You say, "Well, you know, I'm just not worthy. I just, you know, I don't know if Jesus would ever accept me".
Look, you've never been worthy! You never will be worthy! It's the mercy of God! It's the grace of God! On your best day ever you're not worthy! It's the mercy of God that makes for the faith that we believe and receive from God. "Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He has saved us". And that mercy, that love is demonstrated on the cross when Jesus died. He didn't just go outside His country to reach this lost woman. He went to a cross and laid down His life for the sins of the world! Yours and mine! And rose again on the third day. And the same miracle working power of Jesus Christ that delivered that daughter from the devil and the devil's power, that same Jesus who saved that woman who came to Him in faith will save you and your family today if you will believe.