Go... to all Nations!

Matthew: Kingdom Authority  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sermon 47 in a series through the Gospel of Matthew

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Psalm of the Day: Psalm 139:1-12

Psalm 139:1–12 ESV
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 6:21-23

2 Samuel 6:21–23 ESV
And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Sermon

GMC! I was Glad when they said to me let us go and worship in the house of the Lord!
Matthew, if we remember back to the beginning of this whole entire series, I told said that Matthew was one of the most Jewish of all the gospels. It seems that his intended audience was Jewish people. His desire was to preach the Gospel to people who were like him, who were Jewish, as he was. And that is why in Matthew more than any other place quotations of the OT. Matthew uses often the phrase “this was to fulfil what was spoken by” this prophet or that prophet./ Even last week we saw this again in the traditions and defilement section where Jesus quotes Isaiah, WELL did the prophet Isaiah speak of you...”
But what is very interesting about Matthew is though it is the “Jewish” Gospel written to predominately Jewish people (though we know that it is profitable for all people…). But what is fascinating about Matthew is that he intentionally shows how broad the Gospel message is. For Matthew, part of preaching the Gospel to his Jewish brothers meant showing how the gentiles were bothers too.
So far in Matthew we have seen the healing of the centurions daughter, the thought that faith like this has not been seen anywhere in Isreal, Samaritans being included and much more. and That continues into our passage for today. But today What I would like to see this passage as is a time where Jesus himself is willing to go and do what he would later command his disciples to go do. For those of you who pay really close attention you will have noticed that we have ended almost every service in this series looking at what we call the great commission, the final words of the Gospel of Matthew. Here Jesus commands all of his followers to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations!” And here Matthew wants us to see that before Jesus would say that he would be willing to DO that.
Today we are looking at the story of where Jesus would go out into the nations. but this week i do not want to spend a whole lot of time theologizing on what this means, for those thoughts will come next week. Instead, I would like to look at this beautiful story and walk through it together to see the dramatic weight and emphasis that is placed on certain things, seeing as we go along what it may look like as the Gospel goes out. And the Gospel is proclaimed, as who Jesus is and what Jesus does is shown to people who may be seemingly fr from God but yet God sees fit to reach them.
SO we will be looking this morning at Matthew 15:12-31 this morning, the story of the faith of the Canaanite woman and the healing of many, with our Goal being, as i said, seeing how this beautiful story illustrates the nature of the Gospel and what it means for us to go to all nations.
Matthew 15:21–31 ESV
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.
These are the words of the Lord for us this morning. Let’s begin with a word of prayer.
PRAY
This is , sort of racially speaking, one of the most loaded passages in the New Testament. As it opens, Jesus leaves where he has been and goes immediately goes to Tyre and Sidon. These places are symbolically the epicenter of Gentile-ness in the region. Its as if I said I went to the south, that means one thing, but If i say I went to Alabama and Mississippi, you know we are talking DEEP into the south. This was the region where Jewish people were the minority, to the point that we could just say They were all really Gentiles.
And so for the original readers of this there would immediately be a reaction upon hearing that he went to Tyre and Sidon. Something weird is going on, why would Jesus purposely go there? Matthew wants to show us the other and pagan-ness by labeling this woman as a Canaanite. Again, there is a level of particularity Matthew is getting at, And the point is this is the people Jesus is going to. Then if he intentionally went here why would he then say such puzzling and charged things as “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. How can he go here and say “it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to Dogs.” Now we have to deal with Jesus calling this woman a dog, which would be just as offensive if not more so than the same thing would be today. SO this is a very powerful message and in this we see, to shortcut a lot of the theological things going on because we will look at those more carefully next week, but in this we see that Jesus is intentionally making his definitions of who will hear the gospel, who he came to see, who needs him much more broad. He is tackling the presuppositions and the prejudices of the people and showing a gospel that can heal all people. He dose so to include people who will eventually be from every tribe tongue people and nation, the same nations that hew will send his people to.
That is the theological point of what happens, but what is beautiful to me as I spent time in this passage this week is how this all plays out. As someone who loves diving into structure ad flow and all sorts of technical details, sometimes it is valuable to not d that for a second and just appreciate the beauty of what was written for us, so in that heart, the first thing I would like us to note is, what I have called the SILENT SAVIOR

The SILENT Savior

This is powerful and important fur us to grasp.
Matthew 15:22 (ESV)
And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord,
But again, even she is sort of thinking in cultural and racial lines as she cries out:
Son of David;
SO here is a Gentile Woman who is proclaiming. is calling him son of David therefore, in some sense King of the Jews. But what s her issue?
my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
We are sort of used to as we read through Matthew, because we have seen it over and over again. and we learn from seeing and knowing the heart of our savior that we would normally read something like: and Jesu was moved with compassion. he looks upon the people with care and love and compassion or something like that. He is tenderhearted towards those who come to him in humility and faith. SO verse 23 Should come to us as quite a shock.
BUT HE DID NOT ANSWER HER A WORD!
This woman comes to Jesus, and not just is she dealing with someone being oppressed by a demon, but this is her daughter. And not only is her daughter oppressed by a demon, but her daughter is SEVERELY oppressed by a demon. It is warping and destroying her daughters life and soul. and this woman feels hopeless and helpless and powerless as she watches her daughter’s life being destroyed by this demonic oppression. This woman has obviously reached the end of her rope. She has nothing she can do, she has no power or recourse. she has nothing left. And now she sees Jesus, she sees this Jewish messiah and she thinks: this might be my only hope.
and she is met with silence. Jesus doesn't answer her. This is not the main point, but a point I would like to make for us this morning. Often this is how we feel. This is a scriptural feeling. David in the Psalms: How long oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? how long must i waste away?” He feels like even his bones are wasting away as he aches with loneliness and the feeling of a silent savior. But it is not just David and this woman, but so too us. We often feel that either God is completely unaware or he does not care because in either event he is silent. He is not answering my prayers. ad this is a painful feeling. and it is one that we find over and over again. We should note, the pain of this feeling was even experienced by our savior himself as he cried out “My God My God why have you forsaken me?”
And it is interesting that here at the start of Jesus sort of enacting his command to go to the nations it begins with this feeling. A feeling of sorrow. a feeling of trouble. For this woman it is the one place I thought I could find hope, the one place that I thought I could go to to find healing. The one place that I thought I could find, and for this woman it is not even that I need healing, this is somehow even more tragic as this is the desperate cry of a mother for her daughter. This heartrending cry from the depths of her heart and yet it feels like the savior is silent.
Note that we will get there, but note two things: He does not remain silent and two, it does not mean that he does not care, or that he will not move, it just means that for her this is how she feels. But we move from seeing the silent savior, again, not un-compassionate or disinterested, just silent savior, but we then move to the ANNOYED DISCIPLES.

The ANNOYED disciples

Jesus, i would say has compassion tough he is silent, The disciple are not silent but it seems that they lack compassion.
as we read through this we may have to fill in some missing pieces, but all the necessary thoughts are there. Verse 23 he answers her not a word, so what does she do? Well if Jesus is not responding, Jesus gives her nothing so where does she go? to the disciples. but what is their response, verse 23 again.
Matthew 15:23 ESV
But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”
There are two things going on here. one is the woman who is so distraught and so destitute that she thinks: OK, if this messiah, this son of David, this one who I thought could and would help me, if he can’t or won’t help me I still need something, so she begins to pester the 12 disciples. The ones that are traveling with him. The ones who also have been empowered, we read this in the missions discourse thy have been given power and authority, so it is possible they are in the sort of peripheral helping, or she is just like, hey Peter, Can you please help me get Jesus attention, hey James and john, hey guys HELP ME. But whatever it is she goes from o response to Jesus to bug the disciples. ad they get annoyed. Jesus is silent, they are annoyed. SEND HER AWAY. this is the second thing going on.
From the disciples there is no compassion or care. no heart. From the disciples there is just this thought: this woman, this GENTILE woman, this CANAANITE WOMAN how dare she come up to us. We might miss how loaded this is but it is full of hundreds of years of hatred and disgust and a cultural milieu that we don’t just have. this CANAANITE WOMAN! how dare she come talk to a JEWISH MAN! Leave us alone. She is bugging. Jesus send here away. She won’t listen to us, she knows not her place, she does not listen to us maybe she will listen to you get her out of here. The disciples, it turns out, could not see past their thoughts and preconceived thoughts and ideas.
I believe, as I read this and study this, that the interaction between Jesus and the woman, the things that Jesus says to her, Jesus is using this to teach his disciples. Jesus is not responding as Him. Here is what I mean by this, if we just look at the story The disciples say: Send her away! and Jesus responds, OK that is what you think is right? He goes to the woman and says: I can’t help you I only came to the lost sheep of Isreal. On the surface that is not true, because as I mentioned before, he has already healed the centurions daughter. It is not that this is not the truth, Let me be clear, Jesus dd not lie here. Instead he is responding as the DISCIPLES feel. They are the ones that think: Jesus can’t help her, so Jesus sarcastically says, sorry, I ONLY came for the lost sheep of the house of Isreal.
We should note that in context in the book of Matthew he has already HEALED the centurions servant, the mans daughter, he has ministered to gentiles and Samaritans, he has already SHOWN us that he has come for people outside of the small picture of the house of Isreal. So we now have to see the the surface level reading of this will not do. So to get to the meaning we have to dive deeper than the plain reading, and it seems that He is embodying the annoyed disciples thoughts. But note that the woman is not having it. Even here when the silent savior SEEMS for a second like the unwilling savior she kneels before him and cries out LORD help me.
But Jesus doubles down. “Sorry, it is not right for me to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” again, this is the disciples heart being shown in Jesus’ words. This is NOT Jesus attitude.
But heres the lesson and heres the thought here. WE need to be careful. For we can often get caught up in our own thinking our own attitudes and our own preconceived notions of what we think about the world or about people that we ourselves become blind to see the truth of who Jesus is, what he came to do and who he came to save.
The Pharisees had this issue last week when we looked at the traditions and commandments their issue was that they loved their own ideas and their own laws more than God. So much so that hey became the very people that Isaiah spoke of when he said that they taught as doctrines the commandments of men. “ they began to think that what they thought and believed was not just on par with what God said, but elevated above it. And here we see that the disciples might be guilty of the same thing. Because this sort of thinking is common to all people. We cant see past our own noses to see what God is doing. There is no way God could save that person. That is not the type of person that hears the gospel. No one can turn their life around that much.
We place ourselves in a dangerous position. So it is good to see what happens next. For the disciples I am sure were shocked as Jesus rejoices in seeing the PERSISTENT FAITH of the Canaanite woman

The PERSISTENT faith

This woman would not take no for an answer. And praise God for that.
WE started with her being willing to submit herself to the son of David, to the Lord , to this Jewish messiah. That is her first step of Faith, but Jesus is silent. SO what does she do. She goes and bothers the disciples. Fine. Jesus doesn't want to do it, i will not be stopped my daughter is getting this demon out of hr and she pesters the disciples. She does this to the point where they think: OK we are done with her, Jesus get rid of her. Their tattling on her will not stop her. So Jesus first responds with this thought: I only came for the lost sheep of the house of Isreal (implied here, ad you ain't it). So she kneels before him. She still will not have her faith shaken. Then Jesus hits her with what is the most strong response. I didn’t come for you, you think that an unclean dog is worthy of the good things that I came to give and do? and her response is brilliant. Still not being stopped, she will not allow this even to stop her. Sure, I may be a dog, but even Dogs get crumbs, and a crumb from Jesus’ table is enough. So if this is what it takes so be it. He own feelings of comfort, her own feelings of right and wrong, her own feelings of her self worth and importance all fall by the wayside, all that matters is who Jesus is and what he can do. Only he CAN help her and only he MUST help her.
Though the were oppositions and thought here were things pushing against her trying to push her and her faith down her faith is persistent. Quitting is not in her vocabulary. SO I know I may not be from the right house, that's fine, you are still my only hope, Sure I may be a dog, whatever you want to say, you are still my ONLY hope, and I know that even Dogs can get crumbs. SO if I have to be a dog to eat crumbs then I will be a dog, but Jesus is all that she needs. And in this persistence of her faith we find a great reward.
Matthew 15:28 ESV
Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
And here is the point: the point of this passage is NOT that Jesus just came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, for we could get theological on this for Just a second not all Isreal is Isreal it is and always will be an issue of the heart and now we have been grafted into his kingdom and family we could talk about all that but that is not the point here. The point is that this woman's faith was so persistent so single minded that JESUS IS THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN HEAL MY DAUGHTER that her faith is rewarded. A persistent faith is a faith that does not look at hurdles and difficulties. It does not look at, eve, notice this woman is not willing to get caught up in her own deficiencies and her own inabilities and her own sort of standing that might make it impossible form this Jewish Messiah. He faith is in Christ and in Christ alone and that will not be shaken.
Doesn't matter how annoyed the disciples get. And it even does not even matter that Jesus responded to her in what felt in the moment like a negative way, it could not shake her faith. It is a great faith it is a praiseworthy faith and it is an imitate-able faith. would that we could be like this woman. That is truly the point here. Sure she is called a dog, she is outside and frowned upon, the point is that we should want to be like her. Thought this starts as a culturally racially loaded story by the time we get here to the end it does not matter. For all that matters is her faith. This is how Paul could later write in Galatians
Galatians 3:28 ESV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are one body united in this one thing: OUR FAITH IN JESUS. so disciples though you are annoyed with this woman you have faith in this same savior that makes you brothers and sisters. No matter mow much she annoys you she has great faith. And her persistent faith is rewarded. And all of this is for THE GLORY OF GOD!

The GLORY of God

This woman is the first in this district, in this area. It is really fascinating the way this whole narrative unfolds. We are used to seeing great crowds following Jesus. But that is not what happens here. Jesus withdraws and we don’t read about crowds or anything, just this lone woman. Again that is a testimony to her faith. But her and her persistent faith s hounding Jesus and the disciples. Her daughter is healed, verse 28 instantly. and Jesus continues on. and as he continues along verse 30 great crowds come to him.
The fame and glory of Jesus grows. Probably they have head of the healing of this woman’s daughter,. but everywhere Jesus went his fame went before him and people would talk and marvel and wonder. Ut whatever it is thre is movement in the gentile region grows form this one woman with her persistent faith to now a great crowd. and Jesus., sitting there on the mountain. There are intentional echos here of the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. For there Jesus sits on the mountain and his disciples come to him and e begins to teach them. Here Jesus sits down and these GENTILES come to him. Jesus is in the land of the enemy, in some respects, but really the land of the unclean dirty pagan Gentiles. This is not the place that he should be doing this.
But these issues don’t seem to bother Jesus, or the people. they bring before him many people.
Matthew 15:30 ESV
And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them,
Jesus you healed this woman daughter, so heres my son, heres my neighbor, my friend, my father, my loved one, here I am. they need to be healed too! They place them at his feet and HE HEALS THEM. but WHY?
Matthew 15:31 (ESV)
so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing.
again, as always Jesus is NOT JUST healing for the sake of healing. Though healing is beautiful and important. But it is SO THAT the crowd will wonder. What is going on. This mute man has not spoken a day in his life and here he is waxing philosophical and giving great speeches. This kid was a sick cripple could not get out of bed or do anything, his prospects for life were not very good, and here he is made perfectly healthy. This lame man, the one we have all seen walk around town with a limp for the last 20 years is now skipping and running and jumping and dancing. what in the world! this is amazing! This blind man is now telling us of the beauty of God’s creation! what is going on?!?!
well Matthew tells us:
And they glorified the God of Israel.
It is interesting that Matthew uses this language and this phrase. They do not just glorify God, which is a phrase he could have used. No. Here are these gentile people glorifying the God of Isreal, the one true God. God does this. Jesus does this so that God will receive all glory. all of this gets to the point. Why do we go to the nations? SO that God gets the glory. Why would the savior operate as the silent story but then later heal this woman's daughter? so that God gets the glory! Why does Jesus have to show the heart of his disciples and get them to understand? So that God would get the glory! Why does Persistent faith get rewarded? SO that GOD gets the glory.
All things to the Glory of God.
It is important as we understand all the things going on and see how this gospel proclamation unfolds how the goodness and fame of Jesus spreads beyond some local ethnic group, some ethnically homogeneous group to a beautifully diverse worldwide people from every tribe tongue and nation that we see that this is all for God’s glory. This is the heart behind why we must, as Jesus did, GO TO ALL NATIONS!
Lets pray!