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May 14, 2017

A Desperate Mother

Motherhood is not easy. God can and does use mothers to change the world, one person at a time.

Pastor Mike Gerhardt, May 14, 2017, A Desperate Mother, Mark 7:24-30 (Matthew 15:21-28). Introduction: What are mothers for? A simple job description is to bring children into the world and to care for them. Did I say simple?

Here are a few things moms would probably never say: How can you see from there, move up closer to the TV. Yes, I used to skip school a lot too. Just leave all the lights on, it makes the house brighter. Let me smell that shirt. Yeah it’s good for another week. Go ahead and keep that stray dog, I’ll be glad to feed and to walk him every day. Well if Timmy’s mom says its okay, that’s good enough for me. The curfew is just a general time to shoot for; I’m not running a prison here. I don’t have a tissue just use your sleeve. Don’t bother wearing a jacket, the wind chill is bound to improve.

What was this mother’s motive? Mark recorded three miracles that Jesus performed as He ministered to the Gentiles in the region of Tyre and Sidon. This is the only time Jesus left Palestine. He practiced what he had just taught the disciples: there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, for all are sinners and need the Savior.

Of thirty-five recorded miracles, only four directly involved women: the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1); the raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7); the raising of Lazarus (John 11); and the casting out of the demon recorded here.

Jesus came to this area about forty miles from Capernaum so that He might have some privacy, but a desperate mother found him; but there were many obstacles. To begin with, she was a Gentile and Jesus was a Jew. She was a woman and society was dominated by men. Satan was against her, one of his demons had taken control of her daughter. The disciples wanted Jesus to send her away as in Matthew 15:22-23. And it looked as though even Jesus was against her! And yet she still had great faith.

I want you to think of some pre-faith ingredients she had: value, danger, helplessness. She valued her daughter. She loved her child and would do anything for her. We must come to grip with the simple fact that every human life is valuable. Each of us is of great worth. According to God we are all worth dying for. Another pre-faith ingredient is that we are in danger of death, physical and eternal. This woman’s daughter was probably having violent life threatening seizures. Each of us will one day die but more of a concern than physical death is eternal death. We must feel the danger of an eternity without love, without peace and without joy. One more pre-faith ingredient she had was the sense of helplessness. We all must feel helpless when it comes to the salvation of our souls. For without Jesus, we are all lost and headed for an eternity of death. The woman threw herself at the feet of Jesus. Her great faith was evident. I must admit that there are several pre-faith problems that could have kept her from that great faith: SELF-esteem: the negative kind that believes I am good enough to go to heaven without Jesus. SELF-deception: I am better than that guy over there so I am doing fine. SELF-reliance: I can do it myself, leave me alone, I don’t need a religious crutch like Jesus or Christianity.

Jesus Reaction: When she first asked, Jesus did not even answer her! Then the disciples urged Him to send her away. The disciples are famous for trying to send people away from Christ: mothers who were bringing their children to be blessed, the hungry 5,000, blind man Bartimaeus, and this Gentile woman.  When Jesus did speak, it was not to the woman but to the disciples; and His words seem to exclude her: I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. (Matt. 15:24). However, none of this stopped this mother from pressing on with her plea. She addressed Jesus as Son of David, a Jewish title; but the next time she cried out, Lord, help me (Matt. 15:25). It was then that Jesus spoke about feeding the children of Israel first with bread, the bread of life and not throwing their food to the little pet puppies. Jesus was not calling the Gentiles dirty scavenger dogs as did many of the proud Jews; He was giving her hope. She took hold of it.

People can hold two different views of God. Let’s compare the true and false character of God: God is disinterested vs. God is very interested; distant vs. very close; somewhere out there vs. right here with us; an impersonal force vs. a personal being.

Her reply revealed that faith had triumphed. She did not deny the special place of the children the Jews in God’s plan, nor did she want to usurp it. All she wanted were a few crumbs of blessing from the table. It must have impressed Jesus when she took his words and used them! She knew her place, she believed His Word and she persisted in her plea. Jesus not only met her need, but commended her faith.

It is significant that the two times when Jesus commended great faith they were Gentiles. Here in Matthew 15:28 Jesus was responding to the faith of this Syrophoenician woman and in Matt. 8:5–13 the Roman centurion. It is also worth noting that in both situations, Jesus healed at a distance, suggesting the spiritual distance between Jews and Gentiles at that time. Finally, the people of Tyre and Sidon were not known for their faith Matthew 11:21–22, yet this woman dared to believe that Jesus could deliver her daughter. Great faith is faith that takes God at His Word and will not let go until God meets the need. Great faith can lay hold of even the slightest encouragement and turn it into a fulfilled promise.

The lesson: Lost people matter to God. He wants them found. And we can help. On Mother’s Day in 2006, I was in Dallas with my family graduating with my Doctorate. On that Sunday, we went to the Potter’s House where TD Jakes was preaching from this passage. He was inspiring, Biblical and he spoke several minutes describing his mother’s favorite cake recipe. But his point was well taken. When this desperate mother replied to ask for the crumbs, her faith was that each crumb had all the ingredients that the bread would have. She would not be missing out on anything. Jesus is the bread of life, and even the crumbs can give us life everlasting. What great faith?

Conclusion: Have we lost the urgency in giving out the bread of life to others? Do we fail to see the priority to do this for our most precious possessions our children? Let us be thankful for godly mothers who care enough to teach us about the love of Christ. Share the bread of life freely with others. Even if they only eat a crumb, their eternity will be changed forever.