Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

"The Power of Persistent Prayer"
Matthew 15:21-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

I. It remembers who Jesus is--Ps 4:1; Ps 6:2-4; Matt 9:17ff; Matt 17:15; Matt 20:30-31; Lk 17:13; Lk. 18:38

II. In humility this faith holds God to His promises--Gen 32:10; Dan 9:18; Matt 8:8ff; Lk 18:13; 1 Tim 1:13-15

III. It receives God’s blessings--Lam 3:32; Rom 4:19-23; 2 Thess 1:3-4; Ps 145:19; Mk 9:17-26; John 4:46-53

Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once. (15:28)

John MacArthur writes: After putting up a barrier of silence and then a double barrier of seeming rejection, Jesus heard what He wanted to hear. Her seeking heart would not give up. Like Abraham, she grew strong in faith through God’s testing (Rom 4:20) and, like Jacob wrestling with the Lord (Gen 32:26), she would not let go until He blessed her. She fulfilled the pledge of Jeremiah 29:13-14, "‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord."

Highly pleased with the woman’s response, Jesus declared, O woman, your faith is great. Without having heard the Sermon on the Mount, she came with the humble, mourning, meek, and seeking heart that God requires for kingdom entrance (Matt 5:3-6). She exhibited the attitude expressed in Luke 16:16 of vigorously pressing forward (from biazomai) into the kingdom and in Luke 13:24 of striving, struggling, straining every nerve (from agoônizomai) to enter it.

Because of her great faith, Jesus granted her wish that her little child be delivered from the demon, and her daughter was healed at once. As Spurgeon observed, "The Lord of glory surrendered to the faith of the woman." She kept asking until she received, seeking until she found, and knocking until it was opened to her (cf Matt 7:7).

Hard Sayings of the Bible has this comment: Again, what are we to say of the term "dogs"?  Jesus refers to the dogs beneath the table. That in itself might suggest that they are household pets, the children’s playmates; and this is confirmed by the fact that the word for "dogs" used by both Jesus and the woman is a diminutive. Since the woman is said by Mark to have been a Greek (that is, one who spoke Greek), the Greek diminutive used by Mark may have been the word actually used in the conversation.

The woman was quick-witted enough to deduce from Jesus’ words the kind of reply that would win the granting of her request: "Sir, even the little dogs under the table eat the children’s leftovers!" The word faith is not mentioned in Mark’s account of the incident (as it is mentioned in Mt 15:28), but the woman’s reply expresses just the kind of faith that Jesus so greatly appreciated and that never failed to receive what it asks.

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:31 PM