Crumbs For Puppies

Matthew 15:21-28, Isaiah 8:11-22

For by grace are ye saved through faith...

Books have abounded in polishing the techniques of Christians in soul-winning and evangelism. Whether it is the hopelessly inadequate "Four Spiritual Laws" or the use of deceitful means to get people out of their seats to make a decision, all seem to agree that the gospel should not be presented as to "put people off." The lights, music, dress, choirs and the preacher's "with-it" personality - all are used to draw people in.

One must expect this in an age when the majority believe either in the innate goodness of man (so pointedly exploded by our Lord in yesterday's portion) or the Arminian refinement of this with fallen man's "free-will" to please God.

Our Lord was obviously not in sympathy with the slick, easy techniques being fostered by some modern evangelism. Imagine ignoring one coming to ask for help in distressing circumstances! Our Lord did! Imagine telling her His ministry was for others! Our Lord did! Imagine suggesting that she and her people were dogs! Our Lord did.

Of course, one might reply that our Lord being God knew her and the necessary methods to be used. But our Lord still demonstrates that the Gospel is frequently a hard message full of stumbling stones and rocks of offence - and Isaiah mentions this prophetically in our other reading.

But the woman picked up a crumb of encouragement in our Lord's use of the word "dogs." Though the Jews regularly called the Gentiles "dogs," our Lord in the original used a softer word meaning "little dog" or "puppy." And she seized tenaciously on that glimmer of hope. As Stier puts it, "She cleaves to the friendly word "little dogs" in which Christ has betrayed His heart token." As Luther puts it "She catches Him in His own words!"

Many turn away today offended because their sin is exposed and their pride wounded. But this woman, in her desperate need, was like wrestling Jacob and would not let the Lord go until the blessing was obtained, even if it meant joining the dogs and eating the crumbs under the table.
Great need! Great faith! Would that we had more earnest seekers like her today.

FOR THOUGHT: Are you easily offended at the application of God's word to your sin?

FOR PRAYER: For importunate faith to wrestle with God in prayer.