Monday, February 25, 2013

Dogs Scrounging for Scraps

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is 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 before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And he daughter was healed instantly. “Wir sind Bettler. Hoc es verum.” We are beggars. This is true. The words of Martin Luther, the last words written on a scrap of paper found in his coat pocket, describing the nature of faith this Canaanite woman was praised for. We are all beggars. We are all dogs scrounging for scraps at the masters table, yet he lifts us up to be his children. He gives us bread to eat, wine to drink wherein we find our righteousness in his body and blood, broken and shed for us on the cross that is our salvation. The Body and Blood of the Son of David, that is the Messiah who has come to redeem Israel, the children of Abraham.
This woman knows who Jesus is. The Son of David, everyone knew what this meant. It was the designation of the Messiah. It was the designation of the one who had come to save Israel. In just these words, she shows herself to be a believer, one who believes in Jesus Christ. And Jesus, so it seems, decides to make of her an example of what this actually means. No longer will race matter, perhaps it never did. No longer does genealogy matter, when it comes to who is a child of Abraham. No. As John the Baptists says:
“Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Luke 3:8)
The stones he speaks of are gentiles, it was a rather pejorative term the Jews had for none Jews, those who were not of the faith, did not know the torah and God’s will, yet who nevertheless showed up to be baptized by John. Even Roman Soldiers are there asking John what it means to live a life of repentance, he tells them to be content with their pay. That had to irk the authorities.
No, with the coming of Christ, with his death and resurrection there is no longer Jew and gentile: for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
Neither does it matter today. As pro Israel as I am, I will say this, what happens there today has no bearing on the fulfillment of scriptural prophecies. Contrary to a popular belief circulating in so called Christian circles, there are not two plans of salvation, one for the Jew and one for the gentile. There is only one, that is Jesus Christ who is for both, who died for both, just as he died for every living soul you meet. He died for them just as he died for you, because he is their God.
Oh, they might not know it. This is the peculiar thing about this Canaanite woman. Most Canaanites disregarded the Jewish beliefs and customs, they had a place where they worshiped a god they called YHWH, but they also worshiped other gods. And the god they called YHWH, was not YHWH, precisely for the fact that they did not worship him in Jerusalem, where even Jesus affirms was the only true place of worship. Today we have the same problem, people say they worship Jesus, and it doesn’t matter where one worships, but when they deny the divinity of Christ, it is no longer Jesus they are worshiping, even if they do use his name. They may as well be worshiping the bartender I used to visit at the Long Beach Airport who was also named Jesus. (I think he pronounced it differently). He’s a good guy too, humanly speaking, but a good guy doesn’t save you from death.
But this is something that is true nonetheless, even if their faith is misplaced in a false Jesus, or perhaps they follow the concepts of Buddha, or worship Vishnu, God is still their God, and Jesus is still their Lord. Without faith, they do not have salvation, and they live a life of disobedience to God. But God is still their God. Just as you are the parents of your children regardless if they obey you or not. God is God, he created this world, he loves this world, he those whom he has made. He loves your neighbor regardless of race or nationality, in jail or free, hooked on drugs and hooking to support the habit, or clean and sober for 15 years. He is their God. He is their God whether they get up on Sunday morning to go to church, watch t.v. or attend the local Synagogue of Satan, as John refers to those who worship god falsely in Rev. 3. John was talking of fellow Jews, who in denying Christ, denied Jesus, who would not think of themselves as Satanists, as we might, these were not the Allister Crowleys, or the Anton Leveys of the day. But if you do not worship Christ, you worship a disguise of Satan, it’s that simple. This is what he is getting at. And yet no matter who they worship, God is their God, and Jesus is Lord.
This woman understood this. If there was a God, then He was her God, and the master to whom she owed allegiance. She knew that the Jews had some special purpose. She understood that the son of David, the Messiah would be a Jew, but she also knew that if there was a Son of David, a Messiah, than it was to him she owed her allegiance, and that he was for her as much as he was for anyone else. So she shows her faith. In the end, she knows no one has any special pull with God. We are all beggars. She knows she has no right to demand anything of God. She is a beggar, a dog searching for scraps.
This woman does not question her position, she does not argue that she has any merit. She admits she is a beggar looking for scraps from the masters table, and it is just this faith that Jesus praises. It is this faith that shows she is a child of God, as stone made into a child of Abraham. No longer will Israel be defined by race or genealogy, but it is faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord and God of Abraham that makes us children of Abraham. Because we are all beggars who find our righteousness not in ourselves, not in noble birth, not in our money, or clothes, but alone in Jesus Christ who forgives our sins, and cleanses us from all unrightesousness with his body and blood at his table.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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