The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Reminiscere - The Second Sunday in Lent, 2017. Matthew 15:21-28.
The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

 The famous Emmaus appearance of Jesus, after the Resurrection,
reminds us about understanding the Scriptures,
not merely knowing the content in a superficial way.


Reminiscere Sunday, The Second Sunday in Lent, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #652   I Lay My Sins on Jesus               
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #142    A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining - Gerhardt  


Comfort Revealed in a Hard Passage

The Hymn #
454            Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire                
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 374                 Grace Tis a Charming Sound  

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God,even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

KJV Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Second Sunday In Lent

Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that He may strengthen our hearts and confirm our faith and hope in Thy grace and mercy, so that, although we have reason to fear because of our conscience, our sin, and our unworthiness, we may nevertheless, with the woman of Canaan, hold fast to Thy grace, and in every trial and temptation find Thee a very present help and refuge, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


Comfort Revealed in a Hard Passage

KJV Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

The miracle stories of the New Testament always have two lessons, perhaps more. The first lesson is the miracle itself. That may surprise some, but the vast majority of mainline clergy do not believe in the miracles, so they have to talk around them. The modern Christian theologians simply treat the Bible as a foundation for their plush incomes. The Evangelicals and Pentecostals decry the apostasy of their liberal counterparts, but their own lack of faith is revealed by their promotion of entertainment church services, sales gimmicks, and other signs of being embarrassed by the Gospel Word.

We should not overlook the fact that Jesus healed the daughter without even suggesting a visit to see her. That emphasizes the power of the divine Word, which did not require a physical visit during his earthly ministry. This item supports other passages that place a greater emphasis on that reality, such as the Healing of the Centurion's Servant. Matthew 8:5-13.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

I recall one minister trying to take the position in this lesson - that Jesus was testing the woman by appearing to be so mean and hard-hearted. But that denies the divine nature of Christ. He already knew what was in her heart, so "testing her" is like saying His divine nature was limited by His human nature (non-reciprocity of the second genus) - a Calvinist error. I give tests in my Old Testament class - or at least the server does - because no one knows what is in the hearts and minds of the students. Sometimes they think exactly like websites that deal with the same issues - verbatim. Total agreement. Then we have a little talk.

The Nature of Faith
This is definitely a lesson on the nature of faith. The lesson is not about Jesus or the woman herself, but the meaning of faith and how faith responds to difficulties, even the most trying circumstance.

Luther is a great guide in this regard, because his only concern was the actual message of God's Word, its unified Truth. If people read enough Luther they find that he was relaxed about tossing aside the great Doctors of the Church if they were light on the Gospel or even more - if they bypassed the Gospel altogether. Jerome and Aquinas were easily kicked to the curb by Luther, which is instructive.

Theology students are trained to gasp in amazement at the mention of the great theologians - or at least at the mention of famous theologians. Since no one was great before Fuller Seminary began, that is a fairly small number. And it must include the locals who bark with approval at Fuller nonsense, like trained seals who pretend to sing and even honk horns. Loud applause follows.

The stages in this miracle are lessons about faith. Matthew was more of a textbook for the Christian Church, well organized with careful citations. Virtually all books entitled The Life of Christ begin with Matthew as the basic outline.

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

This woman was born and raised a pagan, so she did not have the advantages of those born to Judaism and trained in the Old Testament promises. Jesus traveled into non-Jewish areas to establish believers in those areas, who would be trained and formed into congregations after the Resurrection. At some point she heard the reputation of Jesus and had faith that this divine Teacher could heal her daughter.

In the great Means of Grace chapter of the New Testament, Romans 10, Paul teaches that "faith comes by hearing," but that is a limited expression of what he says in the original. "Who has believed our report?" is from Isaiah 53, about the Suffering Servant. 16 αλλ ου παντες υπηκουσαν τω ευαγγελιω ησαιας γαρ λεγει κυριε τις επιστευσεν τη ακοη (akoue) ημων. Romans 10:16

The word for report is akoue in Greek, hearing, related to the English acoustics. The report is clearly the preached Word about Christ, so faith comes from the preached Word (akoue). Faith comes from the Report (hearing the Gospel) through the Word of God. Romans 10:17

Luther compares this to catching the sweet aroma of the Gospel and being attracted to it. One Methodist woman came to our church in Columbus by mistake and phoned her mother - "I went to church all my life and never heard such things." The Methodist Church, formed by the Gospel, left that behind for the Law of social reform, the Social Gospel Movement.

2. But how is it that many more have heard this good news concerning Christ, who have not followed him, and did not esteem it as good news?

Answer: The physician is helpful and welcome to the sick; the healthy have no use for him. But this woman felt her need, hence she followed the sweet scent, as is written in the Song of Solomon 1:3. In like manner Moses must precede and teach people to feel their sins in order that grace may be sweet and welcome to them. Therefore all is in vain, however friendly and lovely Christ may be pictured, if man is not first humbled by a knowledge of himself and he possesses no longing for Christ, as Mary’s Song says, “The hungry he hath filled with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away,” Luke 1:53. All this is spoken and written for the comfort of the distressed, the poor, the needy, the sinful, the despised, so that they may know in all times of need to whom to flee and where to seek comfort and help.

The woman heard the Gospel report and was attracted to Jesus. He knew the ones who followed just to get a meal or to witness and miracle (only to expect even more). They did not believe anything except their bellies, which they served.

This is the beginning of faith, and the woman goes to Jesus trusting that He will comfort her in this great hour of need, to heal her daughter. One of my students has a daughter who is the victim of seizures, even after the placing of a device in her brain to stop them. They come upon her at the strangest times and take over the girl's body. It is like having the brain hacked, and no medicine can overwhelm the bad signals.

So the daughter suffers and the mother suffers even more, feeling helping and experiencing her daughter's affliction night and day.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word.

This is instructive for all Christians, because she prays for a cure for her daughter and receives nothing but silence.

Her experience corresponds to everyone who asks for healing for another person or any other kind of blessing from God, and sees nothing as the response.  That person may wait weeks, months, and the crisis continues. Others make it worse by mocking, "Why do the Christians have the worst problems? And the clergy families are even worse." 

What could be more unfriendly than this? Nothing is quite so bad as silence. She could easily conclude that what she heard was false. Here is a cold and uncaring Teacher, who does not care about her daughter at all. 

At first nothing else can be concluded about Jesus, so that is why people take offense at this miracle and wish it were worded differently. But these are the same people who need to have their faith become unshakable - like the Canaanite woman's. The message from Luther is that God's Word belongs to Him alone. Therefore, when He reveals His wisdom, we do not explain away or sugar-coat it, but receive it with complete trust.

And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

The mother did not lose faith but continued her cries for her daughter's healing. This seems strange because many are portrayed in the Gospels as having a single request and having that answered at once with healing. But the Scriptures do not question the power of God to heal, so each healing miracle is also a lesson of one kind or another. 

The so-called Prosperity Gospel is no Gospel at all. Those snake-oil salesmen promise prosperity for believers, often for a fee, and equate faith with receiving all good material things in abundance. That kind of faith should be  called the July Frost Gospel, because it only lasts as long as a frost in July. Such faith melts away in sun of affliction, want, and persecution. All the pagan religions offer the same, so why should Christians who are forgiven through faith in the cross be against the cross for themselves?

Jesus' answer is perfectly logical. The strange thing is that many Protestant leaders are embarrassed by Jewish Evangelism, even though it continues to this day. How could Jews become Christians with so much resistance built into their system? So the Christian leaders give up on what Paul called "to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles."

We could call this Jesus' logical answer. There is nothing wrong with what He says to the mother when He finally responds. Logic speaks to us all the time, saying such things as "This cannot be cured" and "This cannot be done" and "You are not deserving of this miracle."

Jesus used the last response for the mother.

 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 

Silence, apparent coldness, and logic do not make a dent on her faith in Jesus. She bowed or knelt at His feet, which was the ancient way of acknowledging God. Alexander the Great insisted on it among his fellow Macedonians, and it caused a great rift in his soldiers.

Jesus answered her utter debasement with logic and with a humiliating reference. Dog is still an insult and there it was especially, because dogs were seen as unclean scavengers. 

8. Thirdly, she follows Christ into the house, as Mark 7:24-25 informs us, perseveres, falls down at his feet, and says: “Lord, help me!” There she received her last mortal blow, in that Christ said in her face, as the words tell, that she was a dog, and not worthy to partake of the children’s bread.

What will she say to this! Here he presents her in a bad light, she is a condemned and an outcast person, who is not to be reckoned among God’s chosen ones.

9. That is an eternally unanswerable reply, to which no one can give a satisfactory answer. 

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 

As Luther says, she takes the word and uses a play on words, which most translations miss. Literally - "even the little dogs" eat from the crumbs which fall from the Master's table.

The seeming harshness is also the answer. Many demand from God, as if they were lords doing Him a favor. "Prove to me all the blessings and help me boast about Your power." 

God helps the poor and distressed, the humbled and needy.

Isaiah 66:2King James Version (KJV)

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word.

She asks in humble contrition, which answers the question about worthiness. No one is worthy to ask anything from God, but in faith we cast all our cares upon him, because He cares for us.
That is a great play on words, because care and anxiety are synonyms that can be used both ways in English. God says, "I am just as anxious for you as you are for Me." Luther expressed that well in my of my favorite graphics. Luke 15 fits so well with this miracle.

 Jesus is the Good Shepherd in John 10, Luke 15,
Psalm 22, Psalm 23, Isaiah 40, et al.

The Canaanite woman is an example for us in never letting go of faith when God seems silence, when logic tells her no miracle is possible, when she feels utterly unworthy and yet still asks, completely trusting in His grace and mercy, never failing in that dependence upon Him. He did not tell her she was forgiven and saved before she was born, as the Universalist UOJists do. Instead, He praised her faith in Him.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.