St. Matthew 15:22-32 – Reminiscere 2012
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
March 3-4, 2012
Glory be to Jesus. In the name of Jesus. Amen. He just called her a dog. The commentators all say it’s a “little” dog. House dog. Like “cute-little” lap dog. But still “dog” dog. Like – “woof woof” dog.
I wouldn’t put much stock in their words. Lest young men call their beloveds, “cute little female dogs!” When your sweetheart gets mad at you, “oh no, baby.. I didn’t mean female dog, I meant cute little female dog.”
What’s worse is that what Jesus says is a racial slur. He calls her a “Canaanite” dog. Kinda like the slurs I grew up hearing as Southerner for other cultures and ethnicities – words which mock the color of skin or how someone got into America.
She had come to him pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
And St. Matthew says that, “He answered her not a word.” He ignored her! Ever feel like He does that to you?
Well, her carrying on was so loud and persistent that finally the disciples pleaded with Him to send her away. Do something… I mean, it’s …embarrassing. The shame of this woman pleading and no one answering… “Awkward.”
“I was not sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He responds to them. Them – not her. After all, dogs aren’t worth talking to.
The lost sheep of the house of Israel. He was sent for the stray wandering sheep of God’s chosen people. Israel’s kids. Sons of Jacob, the guy who wrestled with God in our Old Testament lesson.
Jesus was sent to save the children of the Promise, not some hysterical Gentile Canaanite dog woman and her demented tormented puppy.
Well.. except.. we are in the same boat as this dog-woman and her child. We’re Gentiles too – not children of Israel, not children of the promise.
I mean.. do we live like children of God receiving everything as gift from our heavenly Father? Or do we basically roll out of the bed in the morning on our own – us versus the clock. Stay out of our way ‘cause we are trying to get stuff done. So much to do, stick to the routine…and prayer? Prayer doesn’t get you out the door on time.
Do our lips praise God throughout the day or are they filled with F-bombs, words about God being a beaver and damming things, and suggestions for the people around us to place things in the parts of their anatomy that God never gave for things to be stuck. Calling people female dogs is the least of our worries!
Shall you be a child of God and talk like that? Is that a way the sheep of Israel live?
“It’s ok,” we reason to ourselves, “after all, if we get away with all these sins, they aren’t really sins, are they? Everyone does them. No one is perfect. And after all, we’re Lutherans – that has to count for something.”
But if you don’t ever even think about Him, can you really say that He’s the top thing in your heart?
If you can live part or all of your day without even considering that you are a child of God, is God supposed to remember that you are one? Shall He remember you when, just because you are a Lutheran, or a Christian, you think you can live worse than the pagans and unbelievers?
This Canaanite dog knelt before Him. What have we done? Where are our knees? What are we kneeling before? Shall we send Jesus a text that American Lutherans don’t kneel before anyone?
Shall you call out to God? And if He ignores you, shall you call out again in shame hoping for Him to answer? And if He calls you what you actually look like, what shall you say then? You little dog… No one wants you around.
“Dogs, yes, Lord,” says the woman, “but to the dogs come the crumbs which fall from the master’s table.” Now there’s faith. Jesus faith.
She doesn’t shake her neck at him. Oh no you didn’t call me a dog Jesus. She doesn’t block him on Twitter. No, she clings to Him to be her God no matter what.
For what holds for sure is not you or me, but Jesus’ Words and promises. His crumbs, food meant for the children of Israel, bits falling off the table and going even to little dogs like you and me.
This same Jesus who pushes this woman away today is the same Jesus who will be pushed around for her on Good Friday. The same Jesus who calls her a dog will be beaten like a dog, mocked, beaten to his knees, and spit upon.
Then He will be rejected by the children of Israel, the very people He was sent to save. He will then be led off to be crucified outside the city walls – where the unclean Gentiles live.
He will die – for her, for you, and for me. He will die for the children of Israel and for dog Gentiles. He will die for all and in Him all will be saved.
Faith. Faith receives the Cross of Christ in His gifts. In the Word, faith receives the forgiveness of the Cross and responds, “Amen.”
In your Baptism, faith clings to the Word of God in the water and believes that we, even we dog Gentiles, are children of God.
And if you want crumbs that fall from the Master’s table, come and kneel before the Lord today and receive His crumbs in your mouth at His Supper. Take eat, the Body of Christ.” The communicant says, “Amen.”
“Take drink, the Blood of Christ shed for you.” The communicant says, “Amen.” Gift received. My crumbs – from Jesus to me.
It’s Lent. Confess your sins. Your unfaithfulness. Your dogness. Leave it behind. Stop doing it. Stop your sins because you have been forgiven, washed, redeemed, and cleaned. Stop because you really truly have been fed the very crumbs which fall from the Lord’s table.
And when you start to doubt, when you look around you and your life seems worse than before today. When you call upon Him and He seems to be ignoring you and doing good to everyone else but you and it feels almost embarrassing to call upon Him.
Remember Jesus and this little dog Canaanite dog woman’s faith. For faith believes, faith trusts, faith knows that no matter what the Lord does to us, He’s doing good to us, working all things out for our good, trying to save us.
He simply must save you. He must bring you up. He must rescue you. Not because of your dogness, but despite your dogness.
He must do good to you because Christ died and rose again for you.
For the gap between your faithfulness and dogness and the love of God in Christ Jesus is the chasm between God’s law and His Gospel. The only bridge, the only transition is the Cross of Christ.
What is true of this Canaanite woman is true of you and me. I’m a dog. You are a dog too. Little cute woof woof dogs. But to the dogs, to you and me, go the crumbs which drop from the children of Israel’s table.”
Then Jesus answered her, “O, woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter, you, me, and all who are fed by Christ alone are saved from that very hour.
Glory be to Jesus! In the name of Jesus. Amen.