06 August 2010

Jesus Challenges Seekers

Matthew 15:21-28

In this account, Jesus is not seeker sensitive.  First, Jesus ignores her.  Then, Jesus says she's the wrong nationality.  Finally, Jesus calls her a dog.

Wow.  What happened to all that love and compassion?  Maybe Jesus is just tired and is letting his guard down?  I don't think so.  As we have seen, Jesus does and says everything with purpose not just for the one he addresses but for his disciples as well.

Whether we acknowledge them or not, everyone has needs.  Everyone.  Everyone comes to Jesus because they want their needs met.  This is why people seek Jesus.  They want Jesus to solve their problems.

The problem is that some people see gods as good luck charms.  This was certainly the Gentile (non-Jewish) understanding of deities.  If I sacrifice this, if I do this, if I pray these words, then my god HAS TO do this, this goddess MUST bless me.  But if a god is controlled by the actions of the people who worship him/her, then who is the god and who is the worshiper?

The Israelite understanding of God is quite different.  It is God who created the heavens and the earth.  It is God who commanded Abraham to move to a foreign land.  It was God who promised land, nation and eternal blessing through Abraham.  It was God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt.  It was God who gave them the commandments.  And it is God who will send a deliverer who will establish his kingdom on earth.  We compel God to do none of this.  God loves us and freely gives us his wonderful blessings of his own accord.

Jesus does solve our problem.  Jesus solves our real problem.  He restores our relationship to our Father in heaven, the One, True, Living God who gives us lovingly gives everything we need from his rich grace.  When that happens, everything else gains proper perspective.  "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand."  "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well."

Jesus is constantly looking for people who understand this perspective.  For Jesus to truly heal us, we must see that it is his way not our way.  He is Lord.  We are his servants.  He does indeed serve us in a wonderful way.  But, he serves us on his terms, not our terms.  Do we believe this to be true?  Is this what we put our faith into?

Despite the fact that Jesus ignores her, says she's from the wrong place and calls her a dog.  She keeps coming.  She keeps seeking.  Where else is she going to go?  To who or what else will she turn?  Her daughter is being tormented by a demon.  Jesus can set her free.  She sees Jesus as her only hope.

Does she turn away in disgust for this insensitive, heartless Jew?  No.  Instead, she acknowledges his words as true.  Yes, I am a dog.  And you are my master.  And even if I am not a child in your house, I am still in your house.  And, being in your house is where I want to be.  Outside of your house, there is despair.  Inside your house, there is hope.  I would rather be in your house and get scraps than be outside your house and have nothing.

“Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Our Father in heaven, may we all have the faith of this Canaanite woman.

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