Sermon preached on 2020-03-01 by Rev. Sarah Harrison-McQueen. Worship series, "Come to the Table." Sermon, "Come to the Table...of Grace." Scripture, Matthew 15:21-28.
From there, Jesus went to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from those territories came out and shouted, “Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” But he didn’t respond to her at all.
His disciples came and urged him, “Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.”
Jesus replied, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.”
But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.”
He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.”
She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.”
Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed.
This short pericope [scripture text] provides a raw, telling glimpse of the human Jesus, for this is the only instance in the Gospels when he loses an argument! Whenever he is confronted publicly Jesus always has a response to his questioners. But in this instance, his female Canaanite interlocutor manages to stump him – a major embarrassment for a middle- eastern man of the 1st century. More significantly, it appears that Jesus evolves in his thinking about the nature and scope of his ministry. He initially makes it clear to the woman that he has come for the sake of Israel, but by the conclusion of this episode something has changed. Could this be the moment when Jesus realized that the salvation he brought was to be for the nations as well?
This story serves as a challenge to the closed religious mind – those who see faith as static and not subject to development. Jesus exhibits a willingness and ability to change and take on a new perspective. Are there any areas of your faith life where you might be closed-minded or short-sighted?
- How have you been challenged with a new perspective and way of articulating some aspect of your faith that made you feel uncomfortable, but resonated with you none-the-less?
- How does our encounter with and contemplation of the humanness of Jesus nourish our spirituality, identity as disciples, and faith life?
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