The Syro-Phoenician Woman
Matthew 15:21-28
Then Jesus went there, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.…

The peculiarity of the incident here related is not the cure wrought, but the refusal with which the mother's petition was at first met. It did not need a sympathy such as our Lord's to urge him to dismiss this foul intrusion into the innocent and happy days of childhood; it did not need his hatred of evil to urge him to rebuke the Satanic malice, which could exult in attacking, not the aged sinner, but the pure child who knew nothing of the sources of disease and had no arguments to resist its terror. Who would not count it one of the best pleasures to be able to bring a suffering child from pain and terror to the sane and healthy joy of childhood? But our Lord answered never a word, and when urged to speak, his speech was more discouraging than silence. What is it, then, which justifies this conduct? It may have been his meaning from the first to grant the petition, and he put the difficulties in a harsh form that the woman might apprehend the value of what she asked. But what were the difficulties? His own reason was that he was not sent to any but Israelites. He sent his apostles to every creature, but his own ministry was confined to Israel. This people had been the object of a constant enriching care fur many generations, that at length the Messiah might come to them and through them bless the world; and to act in the end as if this made no difference would have been for God to stultify himself. It is only after the distinction between Jew and Gentile has been cordially accepted by the woman that her request is granted. In humbly and faithfully taking her place among the dogs, she took her place among the children of faithful Abraham. She had the faith which was the best possession of the Jew, and for the sake of which all their training had been given. Observe -

I. HER HUMILITY. Radically it was her humility which made her victorious. Quick in intellect and brilliant; resolute, capable, and even audacious, in obtaining what she set her heart on, she was yet humble. She was of the meek who inherit the earth.

II. IT WAS HER FAITH TO WHICH OUR LORD DREW ATTENTION. This woman alone was victorious over him in debate; but it is not her cleverness, but her faith, which delighted him when she snared him in his own words - her faith in his inability to refuse to do a kindness, and in his God-given power to do it.

III. WE SOMETIMES, LIKE THIS WOMAN, ASK GOD FOR SOMETHING WHICH HE MIGHT. TELL US IN THE FIRST INSTANCE IT WAS NOT LAWFUL FOR HIM TO DO. We break some natural law, physical or moral, and, broken hearted at the consequences, we cry to God. But he answers us never a word; there is no sign that we have spoken. We feel that we are receiving the wages of sin. Gradually and painfully and with deep humility we accept the position we have brought ourselves into, and learn to say, "It is better I should learn the rigour of this perfect and holy order of things than that I should at once have all I ask for."

IV. BEGINNING WITH THIS WOMAN BY LEARNING HOW LITTLE CLAIM WE HAVE, WE MUST WITH HER HOLD TO CHRIST TILL HE GIVES US ALL WE NEED. Can you have such reason to think you are not among Christ's people as this woman had? Did he not plainly tell her that he was not sent to her, and yet in the end yield all to her? You will find that by submitting yourself humbly to the laws you have broken, and to him whose laws they are, you do pass into a new condition, and other laws begin to work in your favour.

V. PARENTS MUST BE ENCOURAGED BY THE SUCCESS OF THIS MOTHER'S INTERCESSION. You may be able to make nothing of your child that strangely perplexes you by his conduct, but Christ can make something of him. In conclusion, have you sufficiently considered the blessedness of succeeding with Christ, of getting from him what you desire? He assures you that importunate prayer prevails. Whatever great trouble, he bids you come to him. He knows human life well, and does not underrate its difficulty. He assures you he can help you. He asks for no certificate of character. If you feel no want he can relieve, is not this itself a reason for seeking him; a proof that you are benumbed in spirit, and need the life he offers? - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

WEB: Jesus went out from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon.

The Second Sunday in Lent
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