Sermon for Pentecost 12 – 8.20.23

+ 12th Sunday after Pentecost – August 20th, 2023 +

Series A: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Romans 11:1-2, 13-15, 28-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Canaanites and Crumbs”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

We don’t usually think much of crumbs. Sweep them off the table. Off the floor. Off our hands. They’re small. Insignificant. Nothing.

 

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that even the crumbs matter in the kingdom of God. Matthew’s account of the Canaanite woman is even sandwiched between the feeding of the five thousand the feeding of the four thousand, where, you guessed it, they picked up 12 basket full of leftover crumbs.

 

Seems that crumbs matter in God’s kingdom. They certainly did for the Canaanite woman who clung to the crumbs of Jesus’ promises and refused to let go. A little crumb of God’s grace was more than enough for her.

 

Today’s Gospel reading is a good reminder that God works the opposite of what we would expect: Jesus the Jewish rabbi goes to Gentile – outsider – territory. He praises a Canaanite woman for her faith because she realizes she has no right to claim God’s favor, and yet leans on his mercy anyway.

 

Today’s Gospel reading is a reminder that God looks after and calls to himself not those who are big and mighty and proud and think they have no need of a Savior, but the weak, lowly, small…crumbs. What we consider lowly and small and something to be swept away, our Lord comes to save and redeem in his own unexpected way of dying in weakness on the cross to save us by his mercy.

 

That’s the same word, this Canaanite woman uses when she calls on Jesus. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David…”

Strange words coming from the lips of a Canaanite, considered an outsider and an idolater. “Son of David” is Israelite talk. This is the language of the faithful expecting the promised Messiah. She has no right to address Jesus this way.

That’s exactly how it is for us as well. We have no right to claim any favor from God, and yet…He gives us the right to be called sons of God. That’s the promise of Holy Baptism. We were gentiles, idolaters, and enemies of God. But then God throws us into the water, washes us, and gives us a new identity. We’re transformed and given the faith of Abraham. Adopted as children of the promise. Made heirs with Christ. And clothed with Christ. And then in boldness and confidence we approach God as Father as dear children through Christ the Son.

 

The Canaanite woman prays the same way. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

 

Her daughter was enslaved. Imprisoned. Sin does the same within us too. Holds us hostage, captive. We are oppressed and enslaved. Sin is more than a flesh wound; it’s deadly and specific: As Jesus warned the Pharisees and disciples earlier in chapter 15, we’re defiled by the evil thoughts, murder, hatred in our hearts, adultery, lust, desire, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander that come out of our sinful heart.

 

And what’s Jesus’ reaction to this Canaanite woman’s prayer? Silence. Perhaps that’s why the disciples ask him to do something. “Give her what she wants and send her away, Lord.” We’re not told why he’s silent. Jesus’ silence, however, is not his absence. Look what his silence reveals.

Jesus’ silence reveals something in the woman. She is persistent. The disciples try to send her away, but she won’t go. She’s clinging to the crumbs of God’s promises. Jesus eventually breaks his silence: I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

 

Still this Canaanite woman did not give up. Like Jacob she wrestles with God and will not let Jesus go without a blessing. She will not take Jesus’ silence for an answer. She comes closer. She falls at his feet. Touches her face to the dirt. She is humble. She worships Jesus as a lowly beggar before the great king. She speaks out of her brokenness. Lord, help me.

 

We pray the same way. Lord, I am a sinner. I am a beggar. Apart from you I have no good thing. Lord, help me. Clinging to Christ like a starving dog clings to crumbs.

Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” There’s no way to soften these words. It was no nicer to call someone a dog in the first century than it is today. What’s even more shocking is that the woman agrees.

 

Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. Yes, Lord. I am a dog. Yes, Lord. I am a beggar. Yes, Lord; I am a sinner. She sees her own unworthiness. And yet she sees in Jesus someone greater than her sin. She sees in Christ the one who cares even for the lowly, the crumbs of the world.

 

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table!” (Matthew 15:27). Yes, Lord, even Rahab, the Canaanite, the prostitute, the Gentile, turned to the Lord for mercy and found it. Isn’t that Canaanite, Rahab, your own great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother? Yes, Lord, dogs don’t deserve to sit at the table with Abraham’s sons. But wasn’t Naaman, the Syrian, cleansed with water and healed, so others would know that a prophet was living in Israel? Didn’t Isaiah the prophet say that your house would be a house of prayer for all people?

Yes, Lord. You’re right about me. I am a poor miserable, mangy, mutt of a sinner. And yet He cleanses you from all sin. Your Baptism is a divine flee bath, washing away all your sin.

 

This Canaanite woman catches Christ with his own word, and he is happy to be caught (Luther). She holds onto his words knowing that God’s business is feeding his people. She does not want the children’s bread. She wants food straight from the Master of the Table.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Better to be a dog in the house of the Lord than even the mightiest of kings or queens on earth.

 

The Canaanite woman was content to receive a crumb. One crumb of God’s grace is more than enough for us. One crumb of Jesus’ mercy is more than enough to end the starvation of our sin and send the demons running. But it is not enough for Jesus.

 

Jesus gives more than a crumb to this Canaanite woman and to you. Jesus gives you himself. Jesus became the outsider and the dog for you. Jesus became sin and death for you. Jesus died for idolaters and blasphemers and sinners like us and that Canaanite woman. Jesus died in humility in order to raise you up and seat you at his table, not as dogs under the table or even as children, but as his beloved bride. Where we would settle for a crumb, Christ gives a feast. Jesus feeds you with the best food, the bread of life, his very own body. And the choicest wine: his blood shed for you.

 

“O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. By faith in Christ this woman is no longer a dog. She is a member of new Israel, Christ’s holy bride. Not a dog. Not a crumb. A child of God in his kingdom of mercy and grace.

 

And so are you. Jesus makes the same promise to you. You are no longer dogs or Gentiles. The stain of our idolatry is wiped clean by his blood. The defilement of our lusting, coveting, gossiping, sinful hearts is cleansed. Jesus died for you. And in Jesus, you are no longer dogs or even crumbs, you are his holy people, sons and daughters in the kingdom of his mercy and grace.

 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977