I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

The Children’s Bread

Lent 2 Reminiscere – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 15:21-28 “The Children’s Bread”
February 25, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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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. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, by Veit Dietrich, p. 151)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

The sermon text for today is taken from the 15th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 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.”
And 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 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 Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)

In Christ Jesus, who is all knowing, hearing all of your prayers, being your intermediator before your Father in heaven where He prepares your home forever, dear fellow redeemed:

When I was going into law enforcement in Stevens Point, I was in the Judo club for two years. Judo is a type of martial art that involves throws and wrestling. This martial art is a defensive base martial art. The goal is to protect yourself. You work to get your opponent on the ground as fast as possible. A match could be over with a successful throw as quick as seconds. To be successful in Judo, one must train, practice, and know how to use your body for leverage. It can look like a daunting task to go against someone who is bigger than you during practice, but it can be done. What about sizing ourselves up with God? In Scripture, we are told to, “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and this praying is like a wrestling match at times. It can seem like God is just beating us down. Jesus looked like He was completely ignoring the Canaanite woman. Yet He heard and answered her prayer. He hears our prayers; everyone is fed by the children’s bread.

To get to this interaction with the Canaanite woman, we see Jesus leaving the region of Galilee. “Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.” These are two Gentile cities. Is Jesus leaving His ministry? Of course not! We see Jesus taking His disciples to be alone for a little while. He has a good reason for taking a little break from the area as a lot has happened. Two big events were that His cousin John the Baptist was executed, and the people had attempted to make Jesus a bread king. This is a lot of attention toward Jesus. The plan of salvation has a specific road to follow and that is a road that leads to Calvary. There is an appointed time, and it will stay on track. Yet leaving for the district of Tyre and Sidon does not mean all is quiet. News has spread about the Man who can perform miracles.

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.” 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.” This woman is dealing with something that no parent wants to deal with. Her child has a problem and there is nothing in her power to fix it. This is a scary moment in a parent’s life. Parents will do anything to protect their children. We can only imagine what this mother did and who she went to, hoping that this demon would leave her daughter alone. She ran out of options. Lucky for her there is One who can help, and it just so happens that He is bringing His disciples to her area. She acts on what she has heard, this Man performs miracles and not just any miracles, He is helping people and curing their ailments. As Jesus doesn’t say anything to her, His disciples have had enough. They just want Jesus to make her go away.

He 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.” And He answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Finally, the Lord speaks, but He does not speak directly to the woman. He is staying true to His message and mission; He is the promised Messiah of the Jews. You can understand the woman crashing down before Jesus’ feet. We know from Scripture that Jesus has already healed many from demon possessions, why won’t He help her? It seems that it only gets worse from there with Jesus’ response. Is this man truly the Savior of the world? It looks as though He is clearly telling her that He won’t help, the bread is only for the children.

Now the silver lining is that the woman realized that Jesus did not say no. You must really be listening to catch that Jesus will answer this prayer. The question is how often do we dig into what God is telling us? Do we look past the initial problem to see the answer to our prayers? This life is full of trials, and it is in those trials where we think God is abandoning us or He is punishing us. We can pray for God’s will to be done thinking that His will is doing what we will. The will of God is beyond our reasoning, even when we look in Scripture and see the examples that He gives us we think that is just in Scripture, that’s not the here and now. We read how Job lost all his possessions and all his children died. King David lost the first child that was conceived by Bathsheba. We know the greater blessings that they received at the hands of God but when it’s our loved ones, when it’s our life that has the problems, how can we trust that God will answer our prayers even when it looks like He doesn’t? Like when our loved ones die, or our problems continue.

When we have these hard to answer questions we follow the example of this Canaanite woman. Her world was falling apart. She was helpless to the demon that had taken over her daughter. So, she hung onto what Jesus said. She understood His mission, that right now His concerns were for the Jews, but she listened to what He said. She knew that children are messy eaters. There will be some crumbs of bread that will fall from the table for the pets to eat. She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” A truly remarkable answer! The woman did not give up! Jesus’ mission is intact, and she can still be helped by the Man who has helped many others. The man that she fully believes is the Son of David.

The Son of David, the promised Son who will sit on the throne forever, hears this woman’s answer. Here was a woman who struggled with God, who held onto her prayer, and never gave up. Many times, in Scripture, Jesus is constantly telling His disciples and others that He is ministering to that they have weak faith. Here is one instant where that wasn’t the case. This Canaanite woman, a descendant of the tribes that were supposed to be wiped out of the land of Canaan, had faith that the Son of David would give her child bread from the table, that He would heal her. Jesus once again lets us know that His work is for all people. The children’s bread is for all. He heard her prayer, and He gave her bread.

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. We might be wondering as to why Jesus would ignore her, or not answer her right away? Jesus isn’t doing this to be mean. He gave her time. She admitted her unworthiness, and she gave Him all her trust. With the trust that only the Savior of the entire world can have, Jesus tells her that her faith is great and the thing she asked will be granted to her. With the speaking of His Word, her daughter is healed. It doesn’t matter the amount or the size of the crumbs, the crumbs come from the same loaf of bread.

This loaf of bread is given to you. Jesus hears your prayers. In your struggles where you think that He is nowhere to be found, it is there that He is standing right beside you. He understands how hard life is for you. He dealt with those same problems, every single one. Jesus took on everyone’s pains and sufferings. He knows what it is like to see His close friends suffer. He was at the graveside of His friend Lazarus, He shed tears. He wept for the whole city of Jerusalem knowing what would happen to it. There is not a trial that you have dealt with that has not happened to Jesus while He was on earth, and He went through it all in love for you. He hears your prayers and is your salvation. He died on the cross for you so that whatever problem you have dealt with in this life, it stays in this life. He rose from the grave triumphantly, revealing to you that this world, the devil, and death itself has no hold over you. He forgives you when you haven’t trusted Him and He continues to tell you to go to Him in prayer. He makes all things right.

You might be wondering that it just doesn’t feel right, and this is why you don’t base your faith on how you feel. If the woman based her faith on how she felt, it felt like Jesus was going to ignore her when it is the opposite. He hears your prayers. He wants you to pray constantly, putting all of your trust in Him. St. Peter who witnessed what Jesus did again reminds you what this world is like. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). We are tested by fire. These trials will seem hard and there will be times where you will want to give up, and God tells you that His grace is sufficient for you. When you are weak, then you are strong. He gives you the bread from the table, bread that will bring you to eternal life.

What a great meal that the Lord gives you. This bread from the table is only a taste. What an awesome thing that as you wrestle with God in prayer, He answers your prayers and, takes care of all your needs. It is a taste because what comes after this is worth so much more. Jesus revealed this to you with the life that He lived. He felt all your pains and trials, yet He kept following the Father’s will in your place. He died on the cross taking away your sins of doubt. It is in the cross all your hope is found. Jesus’ death promises your sins are forgiven and it wipes away all your tears. This life is very short, eternal life is forever. So, as you put all your trust in Jesus, you say your prayers, going to Him fervently, knowing He is answering them for your good according to His will, and you pray, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.” Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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