Sermon Starters

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

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series A

Option #1: "The Power of Persistent Prayer"
Matthew 15:21-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.
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 ago
˘˘nizomai) 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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There’s a famous hospital for children in Tennessee, but a sick child doesn’t have to go that far away to get help. There’s a children’s hospital in Milwaukee and another at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. If you go to visit in one of those places, you may very well see some children with no hair. Do you know why they have no hair? Right! They have cancer, and the treatment causes them to lose their hair. That’s why some girls have their long hair cut and they give it to girls who don’t have any because of cancer treatment.

In today’s Gospel story, a woman came to Jesus for help with a sick child, but the problem wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t a sickness that any doctor could cure. It was a problem caused by the devil, and Jesus was the only Doctor who could help.

While this child’s mother was asking for help, Jesus seemed to turn away her away and then even to insult her, but he was only testing her faith. It was something like those laps around the football field or gym that you have to run in PE class. The teacher isn’t trying to harm you; he/she is trying to get your body to be stronger.

So when God seems not to hear your prayer, keep praying. If it is His will, you will receive what you are asking for and you will have a much stronger faith, too. You know that He loves you; the Lord Jesus laid down His life on the cross to die for your sins. You know that He will give you whatever is good for you when you ask in faith.

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Option #2: "Crumb de la Crumb!"
Matthew 15:21-28
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.


Point: As far as God's mercy is concerned, even a crumb is enough!


Problem: Much like the demon-possessed girl in today's Gospel, we suffer from a mental illness of sorts: sending loud and

lewd people away from God, thinking we're more deserving--God's so-called creme de la creme (cream of the crop).


Promise: God in Christ became "crumb-y" and "creamed" for us so that we might receive the forgiveness of sins and,

moreover, gives us faith that acknowledges our neediness and receives the only thing we really need--His love!--and, via the

Holy Spirit, empowers us to share it with others.


1. We come to the table as God's children. We are getting the bread on top of the table, not crumbs off the floor. When you

receive this morsel of bread handed to you on a silver platter, do you know the power of what you hold in your hand? This
bread is a gift of grace that says God has not overlooked you. No matter what your gender, race, political affiliation, ethnic
background, sexual orientation or any other human boundary that divides, God still searches your innermost thoughts and
loves you. Eating of this bread is accepting this wondrous gift of God's love and believing that it will heal your life just as surely
as the Canaanite's daughter was healed.
And if this bread heals your life, who else might it feed? Does God's grace stop when we overlook someone else? Do we give
other people crumbs when we should be inviting them to the same table where we get our spiritual sustenance? This bread of
life is not a scarce commodity to be jealously guarded or eaten only in times of crisis. God's banquet table is abundant, there is
enough for you and more than enough left over to invite others. (Todd Weir)
2. The lady agrees with Jesus. One way to disarm criticism is to agree with the critic. "You're a dog," implies Jesus. She
agrees! "I am a dog, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table." Or, perhaps in other words, "I know
I don't deserve a thing from you. I am no better than a dog, but even dogs receive better treatment than you're giving me.
Can't you spare a few crumbs of grace?" (Brian Stoffregen)

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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 10:29:49 AM