Reminiscere Sunday, The Second Sunday in Lent
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn #652 I Lay My Sins on Jesus 1:24
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 454 Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire 1:41
Was Jesus a Faith-ian?
The Hymn # 281 The Savior Calls 1:29
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 374 Grace Tis a Charming Sound 1:91
KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
KJV Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Second Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that He may strengthen our hearts and confirm our faith and hope in Thy grace and mercy, so that, although we have reason to fear because of our conscience, our sin, and our unworthiness, we may nevertheless, with the woman of Canaan, hold fast to Thy grace, and in every trial and temptation find Thee a very present help and refuge, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Was Jesus a Faith-ian?
Recently, a seminary graduate with three years of parish experience used “faith-ian” as a term of mockery. He wanted to mock justification by faith, but he ended up mocking his own lack of discernment and his own limited education.
This miracle story is often described as “the Canaanite woman” because the main point involves her and her responses to Jesus. This is often included among the hard sayings of Jesus because He appears to be aloof, even rude to her. Each miracle has one or two main points. One issue in this miracle is Jesus’ mission to His own people, and how that expanded. The other issue is God’s apparent lack of concern.
This is the kind of Gospel story that becomes a snare for rationalists. When they feast on the Word, they do not know what they have, so they use the truths of Scripture to mock the Word of God. This always attracts a following, so they think themselves very wise.
Jesus appears to be callous in this miracle, which goes against our perception. But the Word reveals the true portrait and not a sentimental one, so we have to find out why this particular miracle is so important that it was included, when many others might have described in its place.
First of all, a Gentile woman implored Jesus to cure her daughter, who was grievously vexed by a devil. We can imagine the torment of a neurological disorder or demonic possession, one as bad as the other. For example, in one rare disorder, the body sends horrendous pain signals to the individual because the chemical path is dysfunctional. There is no actual pain, but the child feels intense pain nevertheless.
The woman called out to Jesus and used His Messianic title, Son of David, but Jesus did not even respond.
The disciples interceded with Jesus, to silence her by giving her what she wanted.
And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Jesus answer was worse than silence.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
He offered a reason for rejecting her, and many people crumple when rejected twice in a row. Fear of rejection is one of our greatest fears, and this happened twice to this mother who only wanted her child cured.
The Canaanite woman asked Him a second time, worshiping Him:
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
The next response was the worst of all. Jesus made a comparison. Healing His own people was caring for His children, but healing her daughter was taking bread away from children to throw it to the dogs. We do not understand “dog” to be a great insult, but it is hardly a flattering term. Then and now, “dog” is the worst kind of insult among Jews and Muslims.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
That should have been her final defeat. But she took the words we see as insulting and used them to ask again:
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the [little] dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
Jesus commended her for her faith and her daughter was immediately healed.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
We can see from the entire miracle that Jesus was not lacking in compassion. In fact, He never rejected a single plea for help. We have to look at the context of this healing to see what is being taught by this exchange.
On one level, Jesus seems to be limiting His mission to the Jewish people alone. But that does not hold true. There is one path to salvation shown by this exchange. The non-Jewish woman acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah – Son of David. She worshiped Him as God. Finally, Jesus commended her faith. Therefore Jesus is the Savior – not by reason of birthright (by being a Jew) – but through faith in Him. Therefore, no one is excluded by reason of birthright. This woman prevailed because her sincere faith in Him would not let her give up. In other words, this was not the virtue of the woman, but her trust in the true nature of Christ, which is all compassion.
Meaning of the Miracle
This miracle also has an important message for all who think they are being ignored by God in their prayers. Silence seems to be the answer at first. Then, when others seem to have their prayers answered in abundance, God’s answer seems to be – “You are not one of the Chosen.” In fact, many nominal Christians are only too glad to see misfortune as a sign that someone else is cursed. They may offer many insights about this, such as saying, “You don’t believe hard enough,” or “You go to the wrong church,” or “God must be punishing you.”
Those insights would be difficult to match up with the lives of the early Christians or Christ Himself. The saints were not spared at all. Those who led the church through the Reformation suffered every type of persecution, torture, and death.
The woman is an example of one who saw, through the eyes of faith, the true nature of Christ. Why would she stop asking if she saw every response as additional signs of His Messianic role?
I saw the funniest example of this when a little girl asked her father 10 times in a row for treats. Every time he said “No!” she grinned and asked again. He finally said “Yes,” proving that she knew his true nature.
Translating the answers Jesus gave, we can see the following lessons.
God’s silence does not mean a lack of attention or compassion. That by itself is an answer for a period of time. We cannot fathom God’s wisdom so we trust in His wisdom rather than in ours. God allows many episodes like this in our lives so we can see how God instantly solves problems we cannot possible solve ourselves. Each episode deepens our trust in Him and His abiding love, especially when we see that His solutions work when ours do not.
“Throw it to the dogs” is a good remedy against thinking that God prefers some over others, especially some as opposed to us. That may be our perception for a long period of time, but our view from the outside is often wrong on all essentials. Why do they have five healthy children and I have none? Or - why are they so healthy and ours are full of complicated problems? Human reason and experience will see only problems. Faith will see blessings not given to others who take their benefits for granted.
I know that generations of Lutheran pastors from the LCMS, WELS, and ELS have been trained to make fun of justification by faith. They do not understand the order of salvation, which explains why they fall for anti-Christian fads like Church Growth.
Briefly, this is it:
The Holy Spirit works through the Law to crush our sinful pride and show us our sin. However, the Law can only prepare us for the Gospel. The Law is useful and spiritual, but limited.
The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel Promises to plant faith in our hearts. This faith is trust in the mercy, love, and goodness of God, as shown in the crucifixion of Christ. The Holy Spirit distributes these Promises through the Word and Sacraments, sustaining our faith.
Much more could be said, but it is worthwhile to remember that Jesus said:
O woman, great is thy faith.
That must make faith something good in the eyes of Christ. In fact, Jesus marveled more than once at the faith of individuals, showing us that trust in Him is very good indeed. Since this faith is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is a gift of God and not a work of man.
Since Jesus commended faith and others deride faith, that must make them anti-Christians while they pose as Christians, wolves in sheep’s clothing. We are warned against them.