S-1513 15SAP/3B 9/06/2015 Hymns: (O) #559; (S) #725; (C) #524
Texts: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-10, 14-18; Mark 7:24-30, 31-37
Theme: “Crumbs from the Master’s Table” (Mark 7:25-30)
Question: “Are you satisfied with Crumbs?” (4th sermon at Trinity)
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is the Gospel reading. “But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of Him and came and fell down at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered Him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And He said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone (Mark 7:25-30).
Beautiful people of God, you who are His treasured possession, growing up in Israel we were very poor. Many times my mom and dad didn’t have enough food to feed us and they would go hungry. Yet mother always made sure that we children got something to eat. My mother did everything in her power to feed the 10 of us.
Bread is the staple of the Middle East. There is never a meal without bread. Whenever we got done eating, mother would save the crumbs and put them in a basket. When she had saved enough she would cut lettuce, add mint, parsley, few spices and mix it with water and made a dish for us out of the dried-up crumbs to eat-called Fatush. We enjoyed that meal. Never once while growing up did I know it was a poor-man’s food. Because it was served by a loving mother to her family.
St. Mark in the text before us today, tells us of another mother who did everything in her power to care for her daughter—a daughter who needed the touch of Savior’s mercy and grace. This mother came to Jesus and begged Him to help her daughter. Notice please her posture: she fell at His feet and cried out to Him to relieve her daughter of the demon possession that has afflicted her.
Observe though, His response. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Whoa! What kind of response is this? We are not used to this kind of Jesus. We know Him as the caring and loving Shepherd who is constantly caring for His people. We are taught through the Living Word, that He always reached out and touched people with His hands of healing and showed compassion to them. We know Him as the seeking and caring Shepherd. Yet, here we see another picture of this Jesus—as an uncaring, unkind and unloving. And we are puzzled!
At first glance we are amazed at the kind of response Jesus gives. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” PAUSE.
What is going on here? It is not how it appears to be. Dig deeper into the gold mine of God’s Word and a marvel of marvels is revealed. Search deeper into the text and be in awe at the kindness of Jesus. Here you will see the Gospel overflowing. Here you will see compassion in a different measure. Here you will learn of the love of God given to all people.
Please be aware Jesus never said, “He will not help her daughter.” He simply stated: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” He said first the children must eat. The children He is speaking about are the Jews. He came first to His chosen people—Israel to whom He promised Father Abraham, “All the nations of the world will be blessed by you” (Gen. 12:3, 18:18).
Therefore, it is very important to know that Jesus is not saying His mercy doesn’t go out to others, but simply, to the household of Israel, and then to others. This is similar to what the Apostle Paul shared with us last week: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Here is the answer. First to the Jews and then to the rest of the world.
The world has always been included in the grace of God. We see this in the genealogy of Jesus. Think of Rahab—the prostitute from Jericho. She is a foreigner and yet part of the family of God. Think of Ruth the Moabite—she, too, is in the family of faith. You see the grace of God is not limited, but must be done in the order that God ordained it first to the Jews and then others.
This mother understood that very well. Therefore, she responds to His statement saying: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Again, the words used by Jesus appear harsh. But they are not. He is not talking about wild dogs that roam the countryside and scavenger in the garbage. No He is taking about the little dogs that are pets in a house. They have a master who loves, cares and provides for them. The little crumbs given from the table are blessings from their master.
This humble mother was willing to compare herself to a dog waiting for crumbs from its master. She knew that He will not shut her out or turn a deaf ear to her cries. But at the right time He will come to her aid. In faith, grounded in what she had learned about Jesus; she continued to follow and plead for help. At the right time, Jesus praised her great faith in front of His disciples. He healed her daughter and lifted her up much higher than the level of a pet or watchdog. REMEMBER To God, who cares about even tiny sparrows, we are extremely precious.
As the Psalm states, we can calm and quiet our souls under God’s care; we don’t need to worry ourselves trying to understand all of His ways. Our eyes are trained on God’s hand in our lives, but the Lord of Life gives us much more than crumbs. He gives us something wonderful: the forgiveness of sins at His table and the everlasting banquet in heaven. PAUSE.
Beautiful people of God, please know the awesomeness and amazing love of God who sent Jesus into this world first to the Jews and second to the Greeks—that you and I who are not born into the Jewish faith, just like this Syrophoenician woman was; we see that the Gospel flows to us as well.
We learn of this Gospel as the Holy Spirit brings us to His house of worship weekly. Here we hear of the great sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary’s cross for the sins of the world—Jews, Greeks, Syrophoenician, and US. We are reminded of it by David who said: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!” (Psalm 22:16-21).
Yes, on Calvary’s cross they pierced His hands, feet and side. They punctured His forehead with thorns. They beat His body mercilessly. They suspended Him between heaven and hell and placed Him in a tomb. But the cold, dark and dismal tomb couldn’t hold Him. He rose victorious on the third day, and by His glorious resurrection we have the certainty that He will always gives us not only crumbs from the Master’s table but an eternal banquet that satisfies the soul forever.
Remember the Fatush the poor-man’s food I was telling you my mother made? Though I enjoyed eating that meal because it was made by my loving and caring mother, on a far grander scale the Savior of the world feeds us at His table a banquet that truly blesses us beyond our wildest imagination. And for that we say to the Lord the words of this caring mother: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And He feeds us blessed crumbs from the Master’s Table. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA