Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Asking in Faith ..................... Parables 079

The kids in the backyard were hungry. Their young host suggested they go inside and tell his mother their problem, so in they went.

She didn’t seem to hear them at first. One of the children from next door wondered if she was angry. Another child wondered if she even cared that they were hungry. One of the older ones thought maybe she might give a cookie to her own child but wouldn’t be too interested in feeding half the neighborhood. Another little one started for the door, certain her silence meant that this was not the time to ask.

Her son looked at his friends and smiled. He turned to his mom for the second time and asked, “Mother, can we have a cookie?” The initial lack of response didn’t bother him; he believed in her generous love. She smiled and reached for the cookie jar.

A Canaanite woman had a daughter who was demon-possessed. (Matthew 15:21-28) She came up to Jesus Christ and told Him her problem. But He didn’t answer her. Soon the disciples came on the scene and told Him to send her away. They said she had been crying after them.

This woman was a not Jewish but a gentile, despised by most Jews, even called “dogs”. Besides that, no self-respecting Jewish man would even speak to a woman publicly. They put women in the same category as Gentiles. But Jesus turned to this woman and explained that He “had been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. In other words, His priority was to bring the gospel to the Jews.

The woman did not give up. Instead she worshiped Jesus, falling on her face before Him. She asked again, “Lord, help me.” She believed in His mercy, and bowed to His Lordship, calling Him Lord three times. Jesus responded, “It is not appropriate to give the bread that belongs to the children to the dogs.”

This sounds like a tremendous rebuff. Dogs! But the Greek word that Jesus used was not the same word for “dog” that the Jews used to curse the Gentiles. Instead, it was a word that means “a little puppy.” He likened her, not to a cur, but to a family pet.

The woman responded, “Even the pups lick the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

At that, Jesus told her she had “great faith” and granted her request.

The Bible says that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8,9) and this gift is available through “hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Therefore, having great faith in Jesus is possible to anyone open to receiving it. It should not be any more difficult than trusting the goodness of a mother to give what she has, even to those who might not feel they deserve anything.

Faith belongs to those who do not turn away in discouragement, even if they initially find God’s Word doesn’t really “speak” to them. The discouraging remarks of others also will not affect them. Instead, there will be a persistence to rely on the Lord. Great faith realizes that none have any “rights” before God, but instead makes its appeal on the ground of His mercy, not our worth.

Also, great faith knows that He is Lord of all - and will humbly tell Him so.

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