“A Crumb for Me”
Pentecost 11 (Proper 15), August 20, 2017
A Crumb for Me!
Text: Matthew 15:21–28
Do you ever get tired of phone calls or letters in the mail asking you to help some group of people? That can happen, right? When my parents were still with us, they decided one year that every mail solicitation they got for one year from a charity would get that charity ten bucks. They sent everyone ten bucks, right? Wanna guess how many more solicitations they got? A LOT. They ended up on a ton of mailing lists after doing that. Now let me ask you this question: Would you rather be the one who is able to help or the one who has to ask for help? If you get sick of people asking for help, maybe that thought will change your attitude. It is indeed a privilege to be able to help others in the name of Jesus. Right?
Now when we stand before God, we are the beggars. We are the ones who need help. We have nothing to offer. All we can do is kneel before God and beg. That was also the situation of the mother in our text today. This Gospel lesson reminds us that just like His response to her, Jesus Abundantly Feeds Us the Life-Giving, Sin-Forgiving, Soul-Healing Crumbs That We Need.
As we look at the Gospel today, Jesus has just had a confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus was not happy with them when they thought the rules they added to the Law were more important than God’s Laws. You may recall that the Jewish leadership in Palestine 2000 years ago had added thousands of rules and regulations to the laws of God. He then headed north, away from them, to the Gentile territory of Tyre and Sidon along the Mediterranean Sea. Gentile territory meant more Greeks (pagans), and fewer Jews. A Canaanite woman then came out to Jesus, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David” (v 22). You may not see this immediately, but this is amazing. She is a Canaanite. The Canaanites were the idolatrous people living in the Promised Land whom God had told His people to destroy back in Old Testament days. 2000 years before Jesus, Abraham made his servant promise that he would not let Isaac marry a Canaanite (Gen 24:3). Yet this woman comes to Jesus, calling him “Lord” and “Son of David,” by her words publicly saying He is the Messiah. And she was certainly in need. Her daughter was “severely oppressed by a demon” (v 22). Mom was desperate. She was convinced Jesus could help her. She was not going to give up. And then Jesus did something weird here. He did nothing! Jesus didn’t say a word. (This only happened on Good Friday, right?)
Going on in the text, we read that she was persistent, in other words, that she kept asking, asking, asking. So much so that the disciples begged Jesus to send her away. Has anyone here ever experienced someone asking something of them repeatedly? Has a boss or co-worker ever asked you something over and over? Has your spouse ever asked you something over and over? (BTW…the previous generation called this “nagging.” We call it “Urgent Communication.”) Has a child of yours ever asked you for something over and over? That last one NEVER happens at my house (sarcasm).
Well, it looks like the apostles were being driven crazy by this woman, like a parent whose son keeps asking for the same video game over and over and over. (Can I have Super Mario Minecraft Battlefield?) It looks like the apostles were telling Jesus to give her what she wanted so she would just go away. Have you parents ever given in to your kids just to have some quiet? It has been said, “Parents are not interested in justice. They want quiet.” It would seem that’s what is going on here. It’s implied by Jesus’ response: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v 24).
But the woman continued. She begged Jesus. She knelt in front of Him, and said, “Lord, help me” (v 25). Jesus answered with an interesting answer. He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (v 26). She then said, “Yes, Lord.” She confessed that Jesus was right. She says absolutely, checkmate, but that’s exactly what I want. You are feeding the children. And children always spill crumbs. All I want is a crumb! Feed your children. Be the Son of David. And I will receive a crumb.
Jesus loved what she said. “O woman, great is your faith!” says Jesus (v 28). It is done! Here is a crumb. Your daughter is healed, freed from her demon. Jesus’ coming means crumbs, bread, life for everyone!
Now we must realize that we are all like that woman. We do not deserve what we get here. We do not deserve what Jesus gives. WE DON’T DESERVE IT. In here we sometimes think we do. WE DON’T. We are sinners. We are no better than that Canaanite woman, and back then everybody thought they were better than Canaanites. We sin. And then we come asking for help? We have no right. There is no standing in front of Jesus, no getting in His face, no making demands of Jesus. We deserve nothing from Him.
Also like in the text, we are tormented by the devil. He does not leave us alone. He makes evil seem good. He gives us no rest. He succeeds in getting us to sin. Then he torments us on how to hide that sin, how to cover it up. We are tormented.
We are beggars. We need what God has.
I cannot solve my problems. I cannot get myself out of my predicament. I cannot free myself from the grasp of Satan. I cannot stop his torments. I cannot get rid of my sins. I cannot get myself to heaven. And, my brothers and sisters, you can do none of those things either. You, too, need what God has. You, me, we’re beggars!
We beg of a God who should, by every right, answer us with silence. Like the Canaanite woman, we deserve no answer. We beg from a Lord who should, due to our sins, send us away empty.
But, BUT, we beg of a God who is merciful. He showed mercy to her. He shows mercy to us. I beg the Son of David to have mercy on me. And He does! He went to the cross. He suffered hell—to take away those sins that make me so undeserving. Your God is a God of grace, a God whose chief quality is love, a God who gave His Son to die and rise for you!
Jesus wants to help us. And Jesus is ABLE to help us. The woman in the text knew Jesus could help her. And I am here to tell you that not only is God inclined to help me, but He is also able to help me. He is a God of power and might. He is a God who hears my prayers and who answers them. Our God is able to help you! He hears your prayers when you cry, “Lord, help me!” Your begging is well-placed. Jesus hears and answers. He is able to help!
And Jesus has lots of crumbs. Every crumb contains the mercy and grace of God. Every crumb heals. Every crumb satisfies. Every crumb forgives. The crumb of a Bible verse read at just the right time. The crumb of a sermon heard exactly the moment that it is needed. The “crumb” of the forgiveness of sins with the Body and Blood of Jesus, in, with and under this bread and wine.
Jesus will give us these crumbs, because He has given us Himself. He gave His life on that cross, and He rose again. He took our punishment. He paid for our sins. He heals our wounds. The bread that falls from the table into our mouths, it is His own body. His blood flows from the cross to the chalice and to us. Your Savior gives you really good crumbs!
We end with this: When you have someone to your house for dinner, do you put out your best meal? A good meal? Or the cheapest, easiest meal? When you are the one invited, what is your expectation? We don’t expect just crumbs, right? We don’t expect the least that someone can offer, right? (Have you ever said this, “Well…it’s the least I could do.” We say it all the time, but it’s not the best thing to say is it?)
Years ago my mom and dad were invited to my uncle and aunt’s house for dinner. What you need to know about my uncle is that he was a nice guy, a terrific guy, a guy who loved to laugh and joke around. And…he was…FRUGAL. So my mom and dad go to their house for dinner, and my aunt and uncle kind of did the least they could do. Dinner that day was a vegetable casserole. Now if that doesn’t sound so bad to you, know that for my dad, this was bad. He didn’t like casseroles. He didn’t like vegetables. And to be honest, this dinner didn’t cost my uncle very much.
I am assuming we usually do better for our guests. But when it comes to Jesus, when He gives us a crumb, we are blessed beyond belief. He is a God of unending crumbs. He gives freely the crumbs of His Word and the crumbs of His Sacraments. Every crumb has the power of God. Every crumb heals us, feeds us, gives us life! He gives us everything (good)!
Yay! For Jesus, for His crumbs, and for us.
This now end’s today’s crumby sermon.
In Jesus’ name.
From an Outline in Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 27, Part 3.