Mother’s faith

The Progress-Index Weekend - - RELIGION - — The Rev. Dr. Tom Lovorn is pas­tor of God’s Store­house Bap­tist Church in Rich­mond and he writes a weekly ques­tion and an­swer col­umn for The Progress-In­dex. Col­umns are real ques­tions from read­ers around the world. “Dr. Tom”, a Peters­burg res­i­dent, is a l

Q. What did Je­sus mean in Matthew 15:21-28 when he said he was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Is­rael? Wil­bert Las­siter, Din­wid­die, VA

A. In one of the few times Je­sus trav­eled out­side Is­rael, he crossed the north­ern border into Philis­tia, known to­day as Syria. The pre­ced­ing verses of Matthew 15 show that he was dis­gusted with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who con­fronted him ev­ery­where he went. He knew they would not fol­low him into Gen­tile ter­ri­tory. There­fore, he re­treated into a house there, ob­vi­ously at the in­vi­ta­tion of a believer, to have some pri­vacy and rest. How­ever, his fame pre­ceded him since many from that area had al­ready been com­ing to hear him (Mark 3:8).

Mark 7:24-30 adds to Matthew’s ac­count say­ing the peo­ple there rec­og­nized him, es­pe­cially a mother who had a de­mon-possessed daugh­ter. She fol­lowed him plead­ing for her daugh­ter’s heal­ing. The dis­ci­ples even said Je­sus should send her away since she was an­noy­ing them. At first, Je­sus seemed to ig­nore her by re­ply­ing that he was first sent to the lost sheep of the house of Is­rael. That meant that his pri­mary mis­sion was to give the un­saved Jews a chance to be­lieve in him. That’s where he sent his dis­ci­ples to preach first in Matthew 10:5-6. Af­ter all, God’s covenant was with the Jews; only af­ter they re­fused their Mes­siah did God send Paul to the Gen­tiles (Acts 13:46).

Je­sus al­lowed this mother to con­tinue to plead for her daugh­ter’s heal­ing so he could prove her faith. She re­fused to leave even af­ter Je­sus said it wasn’t proper to give the chil­dren’s food to dogs. Her re­ply showed the de­ter­mi­na­tion of her faith when she said in verse 27, “Yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their mas­ter’s ta­ble.” Then, Je­sus gave her a pos­i­tive com­pli­ment say­ing in ef­fect, “Great is your faith; let it be done for you as you have asked.” And, her daugh­ter was healed at that mo­ment. Je­sus was show­ing his Fa­ther’s in­tegrity to honor first his prom­ises to Abra­ham and the pa­tri­archs of Ju­daism, that is, that the Jews have first re­fusal of the gospel. But, he was also show­ing his com­pas­sion for the needs of all peo­ple. He did not heal this mother’s daugh­ter be­cause of her snappy come­back to his re­mark, but rather be­cause of her faith even in a coun­try where the rit­u­als of Ju­daism were not prac­ticed.

That cer­tainly gives me hope that he will honor my faith, fee­ble as it is. What about you?

REV. TOM LOVORN, TH.D.

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