"Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.' Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, 'Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.' The woman came and knelt before him. 'Lord, help me!' she said. He replied, 'It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.' 'Yes it is, Lord,' she said. 'Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.' Then Jesus said to her, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed at that moment." Matthew 15: 21-28 (NIV)
Everyday Christian living requires Followers of Christ to have faith but to living a powerful missional life that brightly shines the Light of Christ in your part of this dark world will require GREAT FAITH! We all know this but what does great faith look like in the lives of real ordinary Christians. Is it even possible to be a average - ordinary Christian and have GREAT FAITH?
Today, we are going to look at the life of one woman - an average woman - whom Jesus described as a woman of great faith. We are going to examine her, look at what she did and how she did it that would lead Jesus to ascribe to her as a woman of great faith. This woman is the portrait of what a person of great faith looks like.
I. 3 Obstacles This Woman's Faith Had To Overcome
#1: Jesus Wouldn't Respond Back To Her
Did you notice in that story as the woman is crying out and begging Jesus to heal her daughter that Jesus literally ignored her? Jesus was unwilling to stop and even have a conversation with the woman. He just kept on walking.
#2: The Disciples Rejected Her
Then the disciples are getting annoyed by the woman's persistence asked Jesus to send her away because she was unwilling to leave them alone and kept on asking for Jesus to heal her daughter. There's no hint of compassion or care from any of the disciples! They just wanted Jesus to send her away.
#3: She Wasn't Part Of The Targeted Group
Finally when Jesus was willing to start talking to her he told her that he wouldn't help her because she belonged to the wrong group of people. He basically told her that He wouldn't help her because she didn't belong to the right "Target Group". She had 3 strikes against her: She wasn't Jewish, he was a Gentile and she was a woman.
II. 5 Characteristics Of Great Faith
So, what was it that stood out about this woman to Jesus that allowed him to ascribe to her as being a woman of great faith? What did Jesus see or what stood out to him?
1. Her Concern About Another
This woman wasn't crying out for help for herself! She was begging Jesus to help her daughter. This woman had so much concern and care about her daughter that she was willing to risk the ridicule and rejection that she knew would probably come because of her being a Gentile woman asking help from a Jewish man. But she was willing to endure the ridicule and shame because of the concern for her daughter.
Does our faith propel us to risk being made fun of or being endangered all because we care and are concerned about another? Does your faith push you to take risks in order to help another?
2. Her Persistence
Did you notice that even though Jesus ignored her and his disciples rejected her she didn't give up and she stayed persistent in crying out over and over again to Jesus for help. Can you picture the scene? Envision Jesus walking down the road with his disciples and here is this woman following you, not going away or giving up, but keeps on crying out for Jesus to help her daughter. It probably wasn't a quite crying out but a loud one that was gaining the attention of everyone around.
3. Her Respectfulness
Did you notice in verse 25 that the woman even knelt before Jesus in complete submission to him and his authority. The woman in all her crying out wasn't rude at all. This woman showed tremendous about of respect and submission to Jesus in her request for help.
4. Her Passion
And then after she knelt down before Jesus she begs him once again passionately, "Lord, help me." You could probably see her heart full of passion to get help for her daughter written all over her face and in her eyes. Her face was probably drenched with tears and her eyes bloodshot from all the crying.
5. Her Humility
And then after Jesus basically calls this woman a "dog" when he explained to her that the reason why he could not help her was because it was not proper for the food that belongs to the children to be given to the dogs that this woman, through her faith, demonstrated true humility as she once again made her plea of faith. Listen to the words of this woman,
"Yes it is, Lord,' she said. 'Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table."
This woman's response back to Jesus was simple this: "I am not asking you to give me anything that belongs to the children; I'm just asking for the scraps that fall onto the floor from the masters table". In other words she was saying, "I maybe a dog but I'm at least entitled to eat the food that hits the floor."
This woman had so much faith in Christ that she knew that even the scraps that fall from his table is enough to heal her daughter.
III. Jesus' Evaluation Of The Woman
When Jesus say those things that expressed her faith He was absolutely blown away! He stopped, he looked her straight into her face and say, "You have great faith and your request is granted."
This was an ordinary woman with nothing going in her favor except that she knew Jesus could heal her daughter if he just gave the word for it to happen and her faith wouldn't allow her to stop asking, crying out and begging Jesus with all humility.
This could be you and me! You don't have to be born in a family with great wealth - you don't keep to graduate from some fancy school - you may have even been born on the wrong side of the tracks. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is you FAITH IN CHRIST.