Advent 1

Text: Matt 15:21-28.  Jesus left that place and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 There a Canaanite woman from that territory came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! A demon is severely tormenting my daughter!” 23 But he did not answer her a word. His disciples came and pleaded, “Send her away, because she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt in front of him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He answered her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to their little dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet their little dogs also eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith is great! It will be done for you, just as you desire.” And her daughter was healed at that very hour.

            “Merry Christmas”!  “A Blessed Christmas to you!” These are familiar greetings that we will hear in the coming days. Why? Because for us Jesus Christ is still in CHRISTMAS. Jesus is the center of Christmas for us. With the shepherds we hear the message, “Today in the town of David, a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” We run with them to Bethlehem and find everything just as the angel had said. This Baby, the Son of David, is our Savior. He is also the Son of God for he is Christ the Lord!

            Because Jesus came to us that first time as our Savior, he now keeps coming to us believers. The word “Advent” means “coming”. But we shouldn’t think that this idea of Jesus coming is limited to just these 4 weeks before Christmas. He comes to you each week right here. Aren’t you here because you want to hear Jesus speak to you? And in our text now doesn’t he speak to you? Aren’t you just like the Canaanite woman needing to ask Jesus for something. Aren’t you here today praying to him just like she did? Finally, at the end when you die, you want Jesus or his angel to come for you, don’t you? And on the last day, you expect him to come and raise you from the dead and give you eternal life.

            All this is true! All of it, also, is cause for a lasting, jubilant rejoicing. Because it is, let’s study our text and learn more about how Our Compassionate Savior Comes to Us. Let’s see first that he came first to save us. Having saved us he continues to come to us. He does this in Word and Sacrament. He also comes to answer our prayers. Finally, he comes to take us home.

            Jesus, in our text, has led his disciples to NW Galilee, near the border. Jesus wanted privacy to teach his disciples. But Mark’s Gospel tells us that it was impossible. This is well along in his ministry and he is famous. The woman of our text hears about Jesus being nearby. She heads quickly to plead with Jesus for her daughter. When she finds him, she cries out, “

Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!” Note these remarkable words. This woman was not a Jew, but of Greek descent who lived in a strip of land known as Canaan, just over border from Galilee. Yet look at her words. If you read Matt. 20, a story of two Jewish blind men by Jericho, you will note they used the same words. How could she know enough to speak these words? This woman and Jesus had never before met face to face.

            Obviously, this woman had heard all about Jesus. She had heard of his preaching, teaching and doing miracles. And she believed what she heard to be true. You are just like this woman. You never have met Jesus face to face. Yet you believe that he is the promised Son of David, and also the very Son of God. You believe that as true God and Man he saved us. Why? Because you too have heard, learned, and now believe what God’s Word says.

            What does it say? First of all, consider his name, JESUS. It means Savior, he would save his people. He had to! Jesus could be LORD only if he would have a kingdom. But all us humans were under the dominion of Satan. So, he had to fight to rescue us and save us from Satan. To do that he would have to take away our sins. John the Baptist said Jesus would be the Lamb of God himself.  He would be sacrificed on the altar of the cross. Thus, he died. But he rose again from the dead. He was victorious over Satan. Jesus became King. So, you see that is why he came to us as a child in Bethlehem. To rescue us for his kingdom.

But would we accept Jesus as our King? Yes, because Jesus is a good and loving King. Before he died, Jesus taught and demonstrated this with his words and actions. He did this so we would know him and trust in him. This is how the Canaanite woman knew Jesus was her Lord. She came to him with a heart and soul of a believer. This is also how you know Jesus though you haven’t seen him with your eyes. He keeps on coming to you in Word and sacrament. He keeps teaching you of his love for you. He keeps pointing you to look at the cross. Isn’t that an outstanding sign of his love for you? Further, doesn’t he give you his body and blood in the Sacrament? Doesn’t that assure you that he died for you personally? He says, see, I have rescued you. You are now in my Kingdom!

            Look how Jesus further shows this love to this woman believer through his Word and actions. He knows exactly how to deal with her prayer request. He at first ignores her. She now must exercise her faith. She can’t give up. Then he says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He is actually saying, “your time, the time for you gentiles will come later, but not now.” (Doesn’t Jesus at times make us wait for his answer to our prayer?) But later won’t help her now. Her need and her faith will not be stopped.  Jesus then says one more thing, which is really an encouragement, though it doesn’t sound that way at all. Jesus says, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to their little dogs.” The dog Jesus speaks of is a lapdog or a house dog, Like Pastor’s “Lombardi”. They are under the table leaning against your leg, saying, “How about throwing me a scrap.” The HS helped this woman understand her Lord. She admitted she wasn’t Jewish. But she said, “don’t dogs get those scraps?” Jesus was very pleased with her. He granted her wish. You see, in reality, this is why Jesus came to this remote area. It was to see this woman. It was to teach the lesson of this woman of our text to his disciples.

            When we pray, Jesus deals with us and our needs in similar fashion. He knows each of you. He knows at all times what your needs are. He comes in answer to your prayer. He answers your prayer in the way that is best. At times he will make you exercise your faith. He will at times tell you not now. He expects you to keep on asking. After all, aren’t you a citizen under this great King? And if he died for you, won’t he continue to come to your aid?

            One final point, Jesus never saw this woman again. But he kept coming to her through the Word that was being preached. And when she finally died, Jesus took her home. Then she had no more problems. Then she began to see Jesus every day. The same is true for you and me. On this earth we will not see Jesus face to face. But he still comes to you in Word and Sacrament. He comes in answer to your prayer. And he will come again on the day you die. Look for him. Then you will have no more problems. Then you will see Jesus face to face every day.---And at the end of the world he will come once more. He will raise all believers. He will raise the Canaanite woman. He will raise you. That’s all true because he came at Christmas.

            Listen carefully to the words of the angel, “Today in the town of David, a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” Ponder those words. They speak of how the Compassionate Savior came to rescue you and save you for eternity. Because he came that first time, he keeps coming to you. Knowing that, come here each week. Why?  You’ll find Jesus here. The Canaanite woman looked for Jesus. You should too. You need him as she did. You’ll find him here every week. Amen.

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