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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Matthew 15

 

 

Verse 1

Matthew 15:1

Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?

Pharisaic evasions

I. The worst form of hypocrisy is that which sets aside plain moral duties on the plea that they binder spiritual worship; for, if done as in God’s presence, they are spiritual worship.

II. No moral duty is more clearly expressed, either in the Bible or in the heart, than that of obeying, honouring, and ministering to parents.

1. They are the first of our fellow-creatures towards whom we have responsibilities.

2. They are the representatives of God to us. Through them we are to rise to know Him as our Eternal Father, and through them we are to learn how to care for and regard His human family.

III. Strange perversion of what constitutes the service of God, to imagine that a man can free himself from so fundamental a duty as ministering to his parents, by professing to dedicate his property to the support of the temple-worship, and that such a freeing of himself will be acceptable to Him who prefers obedience to sacrifice, and who is Himself honoured in the honour shown to parents. Such external worship is, in God’s sight, empty and worthless. (V. W. Hutton, M. A.)

Pharisaic formalism

The fatal mistake of many is that they think of nothing but the profession-the mere externalities of religion-the name, the form, the visible rite, or, at most, the aesthetic emotion. Thus, with all their religiousness, they have no religion, no spiritual vitality, no renewal of nature, and no union with Christ. It is recorded of a certain Spartan in olden times, that he tried hard to make a corpse stand; but utterly failing to do so, in spite of every effort, he said, “I see it wants something within.” So it is with these-they want life, and grace, and unction. Censorious men:-Censorious men commonly take up magnifying glasses to look at other persons’ imperfections, and diminishing glasses to look at their own enormities. (Seeker.)

Fault-finding reproved

Reader, why will you search another man’s wound while your own is bleeding? Take heed that your own vesture be not full of dust, when you are brushing your neighbour’s. Complain not of dirty streets, when heaps lie at your own doors. Many people are no longer well than while they are holding their fingers upon other persons’ sores; such are no better in their conduct than crows, which prey only upon carrion. (Seeker.)

Washing of hands

Christ, no doubt, would exceed all scribes and Pharisees in the love of real cleanliness, inner and outer. But He felt constrained to lay His ban upon the imaginary virtue that was supposed to be inherent in the act of removing imaginary uncleanness. It was supposed that there was a demon called Shibta, which sits upon men’s hands during night; and if any person touches his food with unwashed hands, then that demon sits upon his food, and makes it dangerous? (J. Morison, D. D.)

Customs of hand washing

It is customary with all, but obligatory for Muslims, to wash the hands before eating. The sect of the Sunnites, which includes the Turks and Arabs, wash both hands, but the Sheites, or Persians, only the right, with which the food is taken and conveyed to the mouth. Thus did the Pharisees in the time of our Saviour. For this purpose a ewer and basin are presented to each guest in turn by a servant, who drops upon his right knee while he rests the basin upon the left; the towel is carried upon his shoulder, or is offered by anotherservant. (Van Lennep.)

Scripture better than tradition

As to those who would officiously substitute their traditions in the room of the clear light of the written Word; it is a similar case as if you should fall in with one travelling on the way, and he offers himself to be your companion and guide; and tells you that you have eyes to make use of in choosing your way, but that these eyes are only troublesome to you; that they represent to you diversities of objects that invite you this way and that, so that you cannot mind your path. “And pray,” saith he, “let me pull out those eyes of yours, and submit yourself to my guidance;” and all this that he may draw you into a pit! (J. Howe.)

Tradition unreliable

Would persons as readily believe the correctness of a report transmitted by word of mouth in popular rumours from one end of the kingdom to another, as if it came in a letter passed from one person to another over the same space? Would they think that because they could trust most servants to deliver a letter however long or important, therefore they could trust the same man to deliver the contents of a long and important letter, in a message by word of mouth? Let us put a familiar case: a footman brings you a letter from a friend upon whose word you can perfectly rely, giving an account of something that has happened to himself, and the exact account of which it concerned you to know. While you are reading and answering the letter, the footman goes into the kitchen and there gives your cook an account of the same thing, which he says he overheard the upper servants at home talking over as related to them by the valet, who said he had it from your friend’s son’s own lips; the cook relates the story to your groom, and he in turn tells you. Would you judge of that story by the letter, or the letter by the story? (Illustrations of Truth.)

Scripture, versus system

The late William Jay, in his “Practical Illustrations of Character,” says, “What a difference must a Christian and a minister feel, between the trammels of some systems of divinity and the advantage of Scripture freedom, the glorious liberty of the sons of God. The one is the horse standing in the street in harness, feeding indeed, but on the contents of a bag tossed up and down; the other, the same animal in a large, fine meadow, where he lies down in green pastures, and feeds beside the still waters.


Verses 1-39

Verse 4

Matthew 15:4

Honour thy father and mother.

The duty of children to honour their parents

I. What is it to honour parents? To obey them in all that is right, when they require it. To do what is right whether they require it or not. To respect their feelings in reference to the choice of companions or of a profession. To act on all occasions so as not to make their parents ashamed of their conduct.

II. Insist on the duty which this commandment enjoins on children. By so doing they will obtain the blessing of God, secure peace of conscience, etc. God requires it-the highest and most solemn of all considerations. (D. Dobie.)

A parent’s honour

I. The command. Honour comprises filial love, reverence and esteem, obedience and submission, succour and help.

II. The obligation. Natural, social, Divine. (Dr. Lyth.)

Honouring parents

George Washington, when quite young, was about to go to sea as a midshipman. Everything was in readiness. His trunk had been taken on board the boat; but as he bade his mother farewell, he noticed that her eyes were filled with tears and that she was almost overcome by emotion. Seeing her distress, he turned to the servant, and said, “Go and tell them to fetch my trunk back. I will not go away to break my mother’s heart.” His mother, struck with his decision, said to him, “George, God has promised to bless the children that honour their parents; and I believe He will bless you.”

Working of the law of Corban

The scribes held that these words, even when pronounced in spite and anger against parents who needed succour, excused the son from his natural duty; and, on the other hand, did not oblige him really to devote the sum to the service of God or of the temple. (A. Carr.)


Verses 7-9

Matthew 15:7-9

This people draweth near to Me with their mouth.

Lip profession

I. Show who they are who answer to the description in the text. All merely nominal Christians. Formal, self-righteous persons. False professors.

II. Expostulate with them on their folly. Is not conformity to Christ’s demand of the heart practicable? Is not such consecration to Him necessary? Will not merely a feigned allegiance be disowned by Him? Shall we Hot wish at last that we had been sincere and upright? (Pulpit Studies.)

I. The text describes a great privilege.

II. Points out a serious abuse. (J. Rawlinson.)

Contrasts of sentiments and conduct

Words and works, believing and doing, confession of the mouth and confession of the life, a sense of religion and godliness in the Church, and a sense of religion and godliness in the world, are things that ought never to be separated.

I. Endeavour to convince you, that a various and manifest contrariety actually appears between the sentiments which we express in the Divine service, and particularly at the ordinance of the Sacred Supper, and our conduct in the ordinary course of life.

II. Endeavour to represent to you the absurdity and the danger of such a contradictions and inconsistent behaviour. (Zollikofer.)

True sanctity

I. True sanctity consists not in the knowledge of God and religion, however extensive, however just and perspicuous it may be. Although that knowledge may be necessary to sanctity, it is not, however, competent to it; and though it constitutes the basis of it, yet it is no more sanctity itself than the foundation of an edifice is the edifice itself.

II. Neither does true sanctity consist in A furious zeal for the known truth, or for the honour and glory of that religion which we profess.

III. Neither does true sanctity consist in the diligent or strict attendance on the rites and ceremonies which religion prescribes; nor in the observance, nor in the multiplication of the devotional exercises to which it advises its professors; nor in voluntary penances and mortifications, which they impose upon themselves.

IV. Neither does true sanctity consist in our occasionally omitting something which God has forbidden us, or doing something which he has commanded us; nor in our occasionally performing single good actions, whether of justice or beneficence, or of abstinence. True sanctity is a reigning, constantly active, disposition and bent of the soul, manifesting itself in the several parts of our inward and outward conduct, and making us always willing and ready to do what, and nothing else but what, is agreeable to God, and correspondent to His will. (Zollikofer.)

The heart far from God

I. The state described.

1. Marked by absence of sincerity and honesty.

2. Implies a state of alienation from God.

3. Try the meaning of the text by the common estimates we form of professed friendship. All stress is laid on motive and feeling.

II. The lessons of the state here referred to.

1. The need of repentance.

2. That in the midst of religious ordinances there may be spiritual insensibility.

3. Yet though the heart be far off the Good Shepherd seeks it. (W. D. Harwood.)

The vanity of human institution in religion

Show the equity and importance of this assertion of our Saviour, “that they who ground their religious practices, or any part of them, upon human authority, do so far, or in that respect, worship God in vain”-that is, they cannot reasonably expect any one good effect from such worship.

I. Rest this matter on our Saviour’s authority.

II. God is the supreme object of religious worship; and to Him all our devotions ought to be ultimately directed.

III. It is a matter of interest, as well as duty, for us so to do.

IV. The peace and wellbeing of mankind in general, and of every society in particular, are interested in it. (Wm. West.)

Teaching doctrines the commandments of men

Our Lord is here reproving the scribes and Pharisees for imposing on the people some commandments of their own, or traditions of their predecessors, as of equal obligations with the precepts of the law.

I. The objects of this censure or the persons specially affected by it. The objects of the reproof were the scribes and Pharisees, the public authorized teachers of the law. There must be public teachers who shall command and instruct; but this authority is committed to them under restrictions.

II. When are teachers and rulers of the church guilty of the crime here reproved of teaching for doctrines the commandments of men? For the better clearing of which it will be of use to consider-

1. What is meant by commandments of men. They are three sorts:

2. Then teaching these commandments of men as doctrines is proposing them as precepts of the Divine law, or of equal authority with them, and obliging the conscience as such.

Rules supposed to be indifferent but convenient and orderly may obtain in a society; but this authority may be abused:

1. When such things are prescribed as binding the conscience by direct obligation.

2. The prescription of indifferent things will be liable to the censure in the text, when it is taught that obedience to them will excuse disobedience to a law of God.

3. This censure will also be incurred when indifferent things are prescribed by men as means of grace, as having power to convey remission of sins, or any other spiritual or supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost. They may he means of grace, but God only has authority to make them so.

III. What our Lord has here pronounced, that they worship God in vain. (J. Rogers, D. D.)

How may we cure distractions in holy duties

I. The greatness of the sin. Proved by three general considerations:-

1. How tender God is of His worship (Leviticus 10:3; Ecclesiastes 5:2).

2. The more sincere any one is, the more he maketh conscience of his thoughts.

3. Carelessness in duties is the highway to atheism.

Particularly:-

1. It is an affront to God, and a kind of mockery.

2. It grieveth the Spirit of God.

3. It is a spiritual disease.

4. It argueth the loss and non-acceptance of our prayers.

There is a threefold distraction prayer:-

1. An unwilling distraction.

2. A negligent distraction.

3. A voluntary distraction.

II. The causes of this roving and intrusion of vain thoughts.

1. Satan is one cause.

2. The natural levity of our spirits.

3. Practical atheism.

4. Strong and unmortified lusts.

5. Want of love to God anti holy things.

6. Slightness and irreverence, or want of a sense of God’s presence.

7. The curiosity of the senses.

8. Carking and distrustful cares.

III. The remedies.

1. GO to God and wait for the power of His grace.

2. Meditate on the greatness of Him before whom we are.

3. Mortify those lusts that are apt to withdraw our minds.

4. Before the duty there must be an actual preparation or a solemn discharge of all impediments, that we may not bring the world along with us.

5. Be severe to your purpose.

6. Bring with you to every holy service strong spiritual affections.

7. Remember the weight and consequence of the duties of religion.

8. Let every experimental wandering make you more humble and careful.

9. A constant heavenliness and holiness of heart.

10. Frequent and solemn meditation.

11. By use a man gets greater command over himself. (T. Manton, M. D.)

Heart-worship

As the strength of sin lies in the inward frame of the heart, so the strength of worship in the inward complexion and temper of the soul. Shadows are not to be offered instead of substance. God asks for the heart in worship, and commands outward ceremonies, as subservient to inward worship, and goads and spears unto it. What value had the offering of the human nature of Christ been, if he had not had a Divine nature to qualify Him to be the Priest? And what is the oblation of our bodies, without a priestly act of the spirit in the presentation of it? To offer a body with a sapless spirit, is a sacrilege of the same nature with that of the Israelities when they offered dead beasts. One sound sacrifice is better than a thousand rotten ones. (Charnock.)

Mere outward worship offensive to God

You would all judge it to be an affront to the majesty of God if a man should send his clothes stuffed with straw, or a puppet dressed up instead of himself, into the assemblies of God’s people, and think that this would do instead of his personal presence. Yet our clothes stuffed with straw would be less offensive to God than our bodies without our souls. The absence of the spirit is the absence of the more noble part. (T. Manton.)

Sincerity in worship

We may be truly said to worship God, though we want perfection; but we cannot be said to worship Him if we want sincerity: a statue upon a tomb, with eyes and hands lifted up, offers as good and true a service; it wants only a voice, the gestures and postures are the same-nay, the service is better; it is not a mockery, it represents all that it can be framed to. But to worship without our spirits is presenting God with a picture, an echo, voice, and nothing else-a compliment, a mere lie. (Charnock.)

Formalism in worship.

We have sometimes seen a tree which looked with its great spreading arms and massive trunk as strong as other trees. “The storm beat upon it and it fell,” and then we wondered that it could stand so long when little but the bark and outer fibre supported it, and within was nothing but decay. And do we not often find that where zeal has grown cold and the inner spiritual life has become dead, that habits of formal attention to religious duties are maintained for a long time before the crash comes that reveals the utter ruin and desolation of the spiritual life? (J. G. Pilkington.)

God only to be worshipped and loved

I. The true object of religious worship, which is here called drawing nigh unto God and honouring Him.

II. To direct the right manner of performing religious worship.

1. God is to be worshipped in the way of His own appointment.

2. God is to be worshipped with the whole man, with our bodies and spirits which are His.

3. God is to be worshipped by the assistance of His spirit.

4. God is to be worshipped in the exercise of all suitable graces under the influence of His spirit.

5. God is to be worshipped with an eye to His glory, as our ultimate end.

6. God is to be worshipped in the name of Christ as our only Mediator.

Reflections:

1. How must every one, more or less, stand reproved for defects in worship.

2. How becoming, glorious and delightful must it be to offer up such worship to God, as is agreeable to His will.

3. What glorious provision has God made in the gospel to assist this noble homage. (Dr. Guyse.)

Scriptural worship

All religion must be Scripture religion, all worship Scripture worship, all zeal Scripture zeal; so that let a man have never such sublime knowledge and such burning zeal, yet if it be not according to the law and the testimony, there is no light in them. It is but a vain worship of God, because God doth not require this; so that the sum of all, and that into which all religion must be resolved at last, is the Scriptures-the Word of God; for if you once lay this aside, why should not the Turkish devotion be as good as thine? Why should not the Mahommedan zeal be as acceptable as thine, but only this makes the difference. What may be proved by Scripture is approved of by GOD so that all these arguments,-“It’s my conscience; I verily think I am bound to do thus; It’s upon my spirit; I find much comfort and much sweetness in religion,”-all this is nothing, for all false religions can and do say this; but hast thou the Word of God to warrant thee?doth that justify thee? all things else are but an empty shadow. (A. Burgess.)


Verse 13

Matthew 15:13

Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Plants God has not planted

1. What is meant by plants.

(a) Every doctrine:

(b) Every practice:

(c) Every person.

2. Some plants God never planted.

(a) What is meant by planting? Planting is setting or putting things into the ground, as trees, herbs, flowers. So mystical planting denotes the transplanting (in a spiritual way) this or that person, from a course of open profaneness into a visible profession.

(b) Who is it that plants people in the gospel Church? God, and gospel ministers.

3. Run a parallel between an external planting; and a spiritual planting.

(a) A planter, as one instructed into the mystery of that art, has wisdom and skill in planting which others have not; so a minister of Christ is one God hath taught the mysteries of the gospel unto.

(b) A planter must have a call by the owner of the vineyard; so every minister must be called and regularly empowered.

(c) A planter must have fit and proper instruments for his work.

(d) A planter doth not know infallibly the difference there is in plants.

(e) A skilful planter knows that a wild, ungrateful tree never bears good fruit.

(f) A planter observes the proper season for planting.

(g) He doth not only plant, but water.

(h) He greatly rejoices to see his plants grow, thrive, and bear much fruit.

As to plants.

(a) They must be well-rooted.

(b) They must be pruned and purged.

(c) Some plants, who promised well, prove barren and good for nothing.

(d) Plants that prove utterly barren, are rooted up or cut down.

4. Why shall every plant God hath not planted be rooted up?

(a) Because they are wild plants.

(b) Because all plants that God hath not planted, have no right to be planted in his vineyard.

(c) Because they do but cumber the ground.

(d) Because they are good for nothing but the fire.

The plants which God Himself has planted shall stand and never be rooted up.

(a) Because they are ordained to bring forth fruit:

(b) They are planted into Christ:

(c) The love of God to them is everlasting and unchangeable. (B. Keach.)

On the efficacy of the Gospel in the extirpation of error

I. How far has this prophetic declaration been already accomplished?

II. There are certain circumstances which have impeded the progress of Christianity, and suspended its moral and sanctifying influence.

III. We have reason to believe that the final issue of the gospel kingdom will be very glorious indeed, and that the prediction of the text will then be fulfilled, in a sense hitherto unknown to the world. (Habakkuk Crabbe.)

Rooting up plants

I. That ‘tis the heavenly Father’s own hand that plants every plant that must grow and prosper.

II. That every plant which is planted by any other hand or power, shall not prosper, but be rooted up.

III. That those which see not things so, and cannot leave them to God they bring upon themselves much trouble and unquietness. (John Webster.)

Difficult and questionable rules of conduct

When we speak of principles and rules of life, which every one knows and every one believes, by which the young and the old, the learned and the ignorant, the prince and the labourer, are regulated, and these principles and rules of life are false, or only true in part, the mischief thence arising is incalculable, is immense. These are “plants which the heavenly Father hath not planted.”

I. Most men are of opinion, that we cannot pass a day without sinning and acting wickedly.

II. We think we cannot be perfect; and with this we not unfrequently excuse all the sins and errors we commit, however various and gross.

III. We argue that we should merrily enjoy life, particularly youth, which so rapidly passes by; we should not embitter it by unseasonable gravity, by unnecessary sorrow or care. This may be true, but the consequences drawn from it with reference to virtue and religion are false.

IV. We say, We are after all, weak naturally corrupt beings, of whom not much is to be expected, and whom God, in His mercy, will not judge with rigour.

V. We say, We should not be particular; we should not aspire to be wiser and better than others. We should regulate ourselves by the persons and the societies, in which and with whom we live.

VI. We have false conceptions concerning daily repentance. How frequent we hear it said: “If I sin every day, I however repent every day, and at any rate we must repent daily.” VII. It is imagined that a certain devotion, or rather, certain acts of Divine worship can supply the defect of a virtuous life, or atone for the disorderly life we lead, and the sins which we commit. Or,

VIII. We rely upon Divine grace, and by it hope to be saved, though we are not so virtuous and holy as we ought to be. (Zollikoper.)

The weeding of the garden

I. Plants that God has not planted.

1. Some have been planted by the minister’s hand. Some conversions are of human, not Divine, origin.

2. Some were planted by their fathers and mothers. They have got a kind of family religion.

3. Many professors of religion are self-planted.

II. Their uprooting. It sometimes comes in this life.

III. The work of self-examination. Am I a plant of God’s planting?

1. If I am of the Lord’s planting, there was a time when I had to be taken out of the place where I once grew.

2. If planted by God there will be sorrow that we were ever anything else.

3. We have learnt our utter helplessness.

4. We are all planted on one soil, and indeed on one rock. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

God’s plants grow everywhere

Other plants which the “Heavenly Father hath not planted” have their zones of vegetation, and die out of certain degrees of latitude, but the seed of the kingdom is like corn, an exotic nowhere, for wherever man lives it will grow, and yet an exotic everywhere, for it came down from heaven. (Dr. Maclaren.)

Plants not planted by God are very beautiful

If you go into the fields, there are many plants that grow there that are quite as lovely as those in the garden. Look at the foxglove and the dog rose; look at many of the blossoms we pass by as insignificant, they are really beautiful; but they are not plants that have ever been planted. Now, how many we have in our congregations that are really beautiful; yet they are none of God’s planting-men and women whose character is upright, whose manners ate amiable, whose life is irreproachable. They are not immoral, they neither cheat nor lie; but they are exemplary; their disposition is kind, tender-hearted, and affectionate. Yes, but there must be something more than this, for Jesus says, “Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Though it be a lovely plant, though it seem to be a fair flower externally, yet since the root of it hath sucked its nourishment out of the wild wastes of sin, whether of infidelity or of lawlessness, it is evil in the eye of God, and it must be plucked up. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Wild plants fruitful

Further, how many there are of our wild wood plants that even bring forth fruit. The schoolboy in the country can tell us that the wood is an orchard, and that often he has had many a luscious meal from those wild fruits that grew there. Yet, mark you, though the birds may come and satisfy their hunger from those wild fruits, and though the seeds may be in the winter the sparrow’s garner, and the linnet’s storehouse, yet they are not planted, and they do not come under the description of the text-plants that have been planted. So, too, there may be some of you who really do some good in the world. Without you a mother’s wants might not be provided for; from your table many of the poor are fed. Oh! this is good, this is good; I would that all of you did more of it, but I pray you remember that this is not enough; there must be God’s planting in you, or else the fruits you bring forth will be selfish fruits. You will be like Israel who was denounced as being an empty vine, because, forsooth, he brought forth fruit unto himself. Charity is good. Noble charity, be thou honoured among men! But there must be faith, and if we have no faith in Christ, though we give our bodies to be burned, and bestow our goods to feed the poor, yet where Christ is, we certainly can never come. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Many of those wild plants have very strong roots

If you were to go and try to dig them up, you would have a task before you not easily accomplished. Look at the wild dock: did you seek to pull it up? Piece after piece it breaks away, and you have to send some sharp instrument deep into the soil before you can root it out, and even then, if there be but a piece left, it springs up and thrives again. Oh how many there are who have as much tenacity of life in their false confidence, as there is in the dock-in its root! Some of you cannot shake. “I never have a doubt,” said one, “I never had a doubt or a misgiving.” You remember Robert Hall said, “Allow me to doubt for you, sir,” because he knew the man to be an ill-liver. And so we have some-they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men; they speak with an air of satisfaction: their language sounds like assurance, but it is presumption; it looks like confidence in Christ, but it is confidence in themselves. And such will strike their roots very deep, and they will be very strong indeed, so that you cannot shake them; yet, alas for them! they are not plants of the Lord’s right-hand planting, and therefore the sentence is passed; and ere long it shall be executed without pity-“they shall be rooted up.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Uprooted plants

1. That system of philosophy which ignores Divine Truth, or contradicts the plain statements of God’s Word, cannot endure.

2. In the various departments of science those views which are the offspring of glaring misconception or of uncertain hypothesis, necessarily possess the element of perishability.

3. A like course of reasoning may be applied to the different religions of the world. Consider some of the plants which the Father hath planted:-

1. Every disciple of Christ.

2. The Church.

3. The Bible.

4. In the garden there are also many tender little plants which, though not conspicuous, are equally the object of the Father’s solicitude.

5. God is pledged to establish the good and to eradicate the evil. The rose will not always have its thorn. (J. T. Lamont.)


Verse 14

Matthew 15:14

They be blind leaders of the blind.

Blind guides

The bankrupt who asks a bankrupt to set him up in business again, is only losing time. The pauper who travels off to a neighbouring pauper, and begs him to help him out of difficulties, is only troubling himself in vain. The prisoner does not beg his fellow-prisoner to set him free. The shipwrecked sailor does not call on his shipwrecked comrade to place him safe ashore. Help in all these cases must come from some other quarter. Relief in all these cases must be sought from some other hand. It is just the same in the matter of cleansing away your sins. So long as you seek it from man, you seek it where it cannot be found. (Bishop Ryle.)

Mutual ruin

The falling of both together will aggravate the fall of each; for they that have thus increased each other’s mutual sin will mutually exasperate each other’s ruin. (M. Henry.)


Verses 17-20

Matthew 15:17-20

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.

Our evil thoughts

I. When may your thoughts be counted voluntary, and we be truly and justly answerable for then?

1. When evil thoughts are plainly occasioned by anything that was voluntary in us, then they are to be accounted voluntary and sinful.

2. When evil thoughts proceed from gross, supine negligence and carelessness, then we are accountable for them; when we keep no guard at all over our minds and fancies, but give them free liberty wildly to rove and ramble.

3. Though evil thoughts may be involuntary at the first starting of them, being occasioned by what we could not avoid hearing and seeing, or coming upon us unawares, or proceeding from the temper and habit of our bodies, or the accidental impulses and motions of the animal spirits in our brains, which are the most immediate instruments the soul uses in her operations; though thus the first rise of evil thoughts may be involuntary., yet if we with pleasure entertain and cherish them, if our fancies are tickled by them, if they are delightful and grateful to us, this implies the consent of our wills. They then become greatly sinful to us.

II. The nature and kinds of evil thoughts.

(a) Especially dwell on the representing and acting over sins in our minds and thoughts; when we erect a stage in our fancies, and on it with strange complacence, imagine those satisfactions and filthinesses which we have not opportunity to bring into outward act.

1. Consider these lewd imaginations as to the present time. There is no sin or wickedness so vile and heinous but a man may become truly guilty of it in the sight of God only by imagining it done in his mind, and taking pleasure in such a thought.

2. As to what is past, there is reciting and repeating over those sins in our thoughts and fancies, which we had long before committed, and, perhaps, as to the external acts, quite forsaken.

3. With respect to the time to come, the speculative wickedness of men’s fancies and imaginations shows itself in the wild and extravagant suppositions they make to themselves, feigning themselves to be what they would fain be, and then imagining in their minds what in such circumstances they would do.

(b) Dwell on unworthy, atheistical, profane, desperate thoughts of (led Almighty.

(c) Thinkings that become evil because of the seasons of them.

(d) Envious, malicious, fretting thoughts.

(e) Troublesome, anxious thoughts of future events.

(f) Haughty, proud, admiring thoughts of ourselves.

III. Practical rules for the right government of our thoughts.

1. If they proceed from the hearts, then we must look after them.

2. Consider what care and art wicked men use to prevent good thoughts, and let us use the same diligence and endeavours to hinder evil and wicked thoughts and motions.

3. Avoid idleness.

4. Live under the due awe of God’s continual presence with us.

5. Serious devotion, especially humble and hearty prayer to God Almighty. (B. Calamy.)

Evil thoughts.

I. Define the classes of thought which may be regarded as evil.

1. Vain thoughts. These are not of a directly noxious quality; yet, light, empty, trifling, and insignificant, they form a most fearful waste of the noble faculty of thought.

2. Thoughts of a directly irreligious tendency. Impious and unworthy conceptions of God, sceptical thoughts in relation to various parts of revealed religion nourished as a subterfuge for sin, rebellious thoughts formed in the hardness of our hearts against the allotments of His providence, etc.

3. Intensely selfish and worldly thoughts.

4. Thoughts of deliberate wickedness.

II. Indicate the sinfulness of evil thoughts.

1. They have the stamp of guilt affixed to them by the Divine law.

2. They lead to the expressions of evil actions.

3. They defraud us of the supreme end of thought.

III. Enforce the necessity of resistance of evil, thoughts. How necessary such resistance when we consider the advantages accruing, e.g., the influence-

1. Upon our personal character.

2. Upon society.

3. Upon a review of life in leaving it and during eternity. (James Foster, B. A.)

The heart a den of evil

I. The humiliating truth which the saviour here sets forth,

II. The truths which are connected with this humbling fact.

1. We are driven to believe in the doctrine of the fall.

2. It shows the need of a new nature.

3. Admire the grace of God.

4. This doctrine illustrates the doctrine of the atonement. (C. H. Spugeon.)

Sin deeply seated

He plainly tells us that the part of human nature which yields such poisonous fruit is not a bough which may be sawn off, a limb which may be cut away, but the very core and substance of the man-his heart. He in effect tells us that lust doth not come out of the eye merely, but from the inmost nature of a depraved being. Murder comes not in the first place from the hasty hand, but from a wild ungovernable heart. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sin natural

You never need educate any man into sin. As soon as ever the young crocodile has left its shell it begins to act just like its parent, and to bite at the stick which broke the shell. The serpent is scarcely born before it rears itself and begins to hiss. The young tiger may be nurtured in your parlour, but it will develop ere long the same thirst for blood as if it were in the forest. So is it with man; he sins as naturally as the young lion seeks for blood, or the young serpent stores up venom. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sin inward

If you can drive a man from outward vice, how far have you improved him if he lives in inward sin? You have benefited him as far as the sight of man is concerned, but not before God. There was a man killed on Holborn Hill this week, and I have heard that there was little or no external appearance of injury upon his body. He had been crushed between an omnibus and a cart, and all the wounds were internal, but he died just as surely as if he had been beaten black and blue, or cut into a thousand gashes. So a man may die of internal sin; it does not appear outwardly for certain reasons, but he will die of it just the same if it be within. Many a man has died from internal bleeding, and yet there has been no wound whatever to be seen by the eye. You, my dear hearer, may go to hell as well dressed in the garnishings of morality as in the rags of immorality. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The heart the home of sin

The Saviour does not stop to prove that these things come out of the heart. He asserts it, and asserts it because it is self-evident. When you see a thing coming forth, you are clear it was there first. Last summa.: I noticed hornets continually flying from a number of decayed logs in my garden. I saw them constantly flying in and out, and I did not think myself at all unreasonable in concluding that there was a hornet’s nest there; and so, if we see the hornets of sin flying out of a man, we suppose at once there is sin within him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The heart needs the remedy

Some malady which you do not understand troubles and alarms you. The physician is called. Thinking that the illness proceeds from a certain inflammatory process on a portion of your skin, you anxiously direct his attention to the spot. Silently, but sympathizingly, he looks at the place where you have bidden him look, and because you have bidden him look there, but soon he turns away. He is busy with an instrument on another part of your body. He presses his trumpet tube gently to your breast, and listens for the pulsations which faintly but distinctly pass through. He looks and listens there, and saddens as he looks. You again direct his attention to the cutaneous eruption which annoys you. He sighs and sits silent. When you reiterate your request that something should be done for the external eruption, he gently shakes his head, and answers not a word. From this silence you would learn the truth at last, you would not miss its meaning long. (W. Arnot.)

The heart the root of actual evil

Original sin is the womb of all actual sin. Every sinful act in us derives its descent from this. This is the spawn; actual transgressions are the offspring. This is actual sin in the egg, more than the cockatrice’s. Hatched by Satan, it yields a fearful brood, whose name is legion, whose end is destruction, whose grave is hell. In Eden there was a tree of life, so will there be in the Eden above-a tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. But since man was thrust out of Paradise, a tree of death, a root of bitterness, has grown in every soul, bearing all manner of cursed fruits; and every leaf, every bud, tends to destroy life and ruin man. Its grapes are gall, its clusters are bitter, its wine is the poison of asps. Ransack the records of human crime, dig up from the grave of forgetfulness every atrocity, however unprecedented, however abominable, it lay in germ in the ordinary corruption of human nature. Ten thousand trees spread their arms over the earth in giant magnitude, yet all spring from the one same root. (R. B. Nichol.)

Inward derangement the cause of outward wickedness

The heart is the seat and source of every great wickedness. No wonder that the wickedness of man is great. If the pendulum and weights and machinery of a clock are all deranged, it is quite clear that the hands will not point with correctness to the hours. If the fountain is corrupt and impure, the streams must inevitably be so. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Inward sin

If a man covets, he steals. If a man has murderous hate, he murders. If a man broods dishonest thoughts, he is a -knave. If a man harbours sharp and bitter jealousies, envies, hatreds, though he never express them by his tongue, or shape them by his hand, they are there. There are many goodseeming men, who, if all their day’s thoughts and feelings were to be suddenly developed into acts visible to the eye, would run from themselves, as men in earthquakes run from the fiery gapings of the ground, and sulphurous cracks that open the way to the uncooled centre of perdition. (H. W. Beecher.)

The heart-mill

Anselm says, “Our heart is like a mill, ever grinding, which a certain lord gave in charge to his servant, enjoining that he should only grind in it his master’s grain, whether wheat, barley, or oats, and telling him that he must subsist on the produce. But that servant has an enemy, who is always playing tricks on the mill. If, any moment, he finds it unwatched, he throws in gravel to keep the stones from acting, or pitch to clog them, or dirt and chaff to mix with the meal. If the servant is careful in tending his mill, there flows forth a beautiful flour, which is at once a service to his master, and a subsistence to himself; but if he plays truant, and allows his enemy to tamper with his machinery, the bad outcome tells the tale; his lord is angry; and he himself is starved.” This mill, ever grinding, is the heart; thoughts are the grain; the devil is the watchful enemy: he throws in bad thoughts, which can only be prevented by watchfulness and prayer.


Verse 21

Matthew 15:21; Matthew 15:28

Then Jesus went thence and departed Into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

The woman of Canaan

I. What made the faith of this woman so remarkable?

1. She had much against her in her original circumstances. In the eye of a Jew she belonged to the most hated of all the Gentile races. There was a frontier line of dislike to cross, far wider than any distance between Tyre and Palestine. Yet it did not keep her from finding her way to the great Teacher of the Jewish nation.

2. She got little countenance from Christ’s disciples. Annoyed at her importunity, and desiring to be freed from the trouble of her presence, they desired Christ to send her away. She could not but feel they would gladly be rid of her, in the way some cast an alms to a persistent beggar. Weaker faith would have felt the chill, and would have desisted. But it is not from them that she seeks an answer. She will take her dismissal from none but Christ Himself.

3. The woman’s faith reaches its greatest trial in the conduct of Christ. The disciples, cold as they are, seem merciful compared with their Master. As she cries, and pours her heart into her prayer, He moves away with silent neglect. That dreadful silence is harder to bear than the sorest word that can be spoken. Still she cried after Him, and at last He spoke. But His words, were they not even harder than His silence? For He did not speak to her, but only of her, and that in such a slighting manner as almost to quench all hope. Still she persists, and at length-as Christ all along intended she should-gains her heart’s desire.

II. What helped her faith to hold on and triumph? We do not speak of the first cause of all, which was Christ’s eye watching her steps, and His hand bearing her up, but of the mediate causes by which her faith was upheld.

1. She had a deep home and heart sorrow, spurring her on to make every exertion. In other means had failed, but something told her there was hope here, and to this she clung. The greater the feeling of the trouble, the more surely will it carry you into the presence of the only Saviour.

2. She had learned to take a very humble view of herself. As humility goes deep down, faith rises up high and strong, for humility furnishes the roots by which faith holds on.

3. Her faith was so strong, because it had hold of another Christ, greater and more merciful than her eyes saw. She looked beyond appearances, and fixed her gaze on things unseen and eternal. It is this which keeps men right, amid adverse surroundings. Thick thunderclouds of Atheism and Pessimism sometimes hang lowering over the earth, and threaten to quench all the higher hope; but God has given to the spirit a power by which it can pass up through them and sing like the lark in the sunshine and the blue sky. It is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ to educate and strengthen it by drawing it, often through much tribulation, to Himself. (J. Ker, D. D.)

Victorious wrestling in prayer

Of all the expressions of Christian life, prayer is the foremost, h precedes and accompanies every other. It is the breathing of the soul, the palpitation of the heart of the new inward man.

I.

II. The sense of our want urges us to pray. Knowledge of our sinfulness drives us to God. As the drowning man attaches himself to the saving hand, and does not let go his hold, so the soul attaches itself to the hand of Jesus, and refuses to be shaken off. Then the wrestling prayer for salvation begins, for it is begotten of the feeling of the soul’s misery.

III. What helps us to overcome in the struggle is the perseverance of humble faith. Jesus is the conqueror; but Jesus we seize by faith, and with Him is victory.

1. We must seek Jesus. No rest till we come to Him. No other can help us, or rid us of our sin.

2. We must not let Jesus go. If He goes away, follow Him; if He seems to be stern, become more urgent; if He hides His face, cry the louder; if He will not listen, assail His heart. Every No of Jesus is an Aye in disguise. It is true we deserve none of the things we pray for; but He has enough and to spare for all; and after the children are filled, He can afford to cast the crumbs to the dogs. If we have but the crumbs from His rich table, we shall be satisfied. Even if we are the last in His kingdom, it is sufficient, so that we only have some share of His grace. If it is only one look of His eye; only one glance from Him. If we are not allowed to rest on His breast with John, we shall be satisfied if only with Thomas we are permitted to behold the print of the nails. And when we have become quite exhausted in wrestling with Him, and all our strength is broken; when, so to speak, the hollow of our thigh is out of joint; when we can only cling to Him and declare we will not let Him go except He bless us; even then we shall overcome, and He will declare Himself to be vanquished.

IV. What do we win in the victory? The blessing of Jesus Christ-“Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.” What a wonderful word. To whom does it apply? To him who first has sacrificed his self-will, and has learnt to say, from the bottom of his heart, “Lord, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Then God’s will and man’s are become one. Just before, almost powerless: now, almost almighty. He who thus wins God’s heart, wins everything. A child of God is lord over all things, (C. E. Luthardt.)

The woman of Canaan

This story is the simplest of dramas, having two persons and a chorus.

I. The first person is the heathen woman, and here we note:

II. The other person is the Lord Jesus. Looking on Him as the model of human duty, and the expression of the Divine nature, we find in this story things amazing and perplexing. What are we to learn from them?

1. The perplexities in the life of Christ are like the perplexities in the government of God.

2. This incident exhibits Christ gazing inexorable, for a time, on human suffering.

3. His apparent unkindness is only apparent.

4. His blessing is already given, while yet the supplicant is unaware of it. (Leonard W. Bacon)

I. That it is highly gratifying to meet with devout persons where we expect not to find them. She was a heathen, not a Jew.

II. That afflictions, both personal and domestic, are powerful incentives to prayer.

III. That in our exercises of devotion we ought to pray for others as; well as for ourselves.

IV. That sincere supplicants may meet with great discouragements in prayer. Delays are not denials. We are apt to value highly that which costs us effort

V. That sincere supplicants are always persevering.

VI. That the prayer of faith must ultimately prevail. (R. Newton.)

Significant silence

The Saviour’s silence was not the result of intellectual poverty. Was not that of one taken with mere self-considerations. Was not caused by indifference.

I. The Saviour’s silence indicates thoughtfulness.

II. Denotes loving estimates.

III. Manifests the greatness of self-control. Effective speech is power over one’s fellows, but silence is power over one’s own self.

IV. And yet the Saviour’s silence may have been sympathetic.

V. Was preparative. What power in a judicious pause. Delay may enhance the preciousness of the gift. (W. Burrows, B. A.)

The Woman of Canaan

I. What we can find in this woman to commend.

1. Strong and wise parental love.

2. Her earnestness.

3. Deep humility.

II. What our Lord himself actually commended in her-“Great is thy faith.” This virtue singled out because all others flow from it.

III. The gracious treatment she received from our Lord.

1. Christ delayed His answer to her petition.

2. He gave her strength to persevere in prayer for it, and made that prayer more humble and earnest.

3. He put on her signal honour.

4. He at last gave her all that she desired.

5. There is often more love towards us in the heart of Christ than we can see in His dealings with us.

6. The prayer of faith is always crowned with success. (C. Bradley.)

I. Who this woman was. She was not an Israelite. The cause of her sorrow was not her own. Her prayer.

II. Her Saviour.

1. His silence when we should not have expected it.

2. He seems to plead that His commission had been exclusively to Israel.

3. He appears to add insult to cruelty.

4. He suffers Himself to be conquered by faith.

II. What does this say to you?

1. You may go to Christ for yourselves.

2. You may go to Christ for your relatives.

3. Jesus can and will do helpless sinners good. (T. Mortimer.)

God’s delays in answering prayer

1. To try our faith.

2. To foster humility.

3. To intensify desire after the blessings we request.

4. To enhance the joy of success when the answer is vouchsafed.

5. Blessed are they that wait for Him. (C. M. Merry.)

The elements of prevailing prayer

I. Sincerity.

II. Humility.

III. Importunity.

IV. Faith. Conclude with a few practical remarks. (J. B. Jeher, D. D.)

Faith triumphing over difficulties

Faith overcomes-

I. Obstacles in our personal circumstances.

II. The concealments of Jesus.

III. The silence of Jesus.

IV. The refusals of Jesus.

V. The reproaches of Jesus. (Anon.)

The woman of Canaan

This is an instance of a wrestling faith; faith wrestling with grievous temptations, but at length obtaining help from God. We ought to consider this

I. The quality of the woman.

II. She was a believer.

III. The greatness and strength of her faith; seen in her trials and temptations; and in her victory over them, by her importunity, humility, and resolved confidence.

The woman’s temptations are four.

I. Christ’s silence. Though a sore temptation, this should not yet weaken our faith; for God’s delay is for His own glory and our good: to enlarge our desires, and put greater fervency into them.

II. The small assistance she had from the disciples.

III. Christ’s seeming to exclude her from His commission.

IV. Christ’s answer implying a contempt of her, or at least a strong reason against her.

The woman’s victory over her temptations.

I. By her importunity.

II. Her humility.

III. Her resolved confidence. All which are the fruits of great faith. (T. Manton.)

The woman of Canaan

I. The trials and difficulties this supplicant’s faith met with.

1. Christ is wholly silent.

2. Christ intimates that He had nothing to do with her.

3. Christ seems to answer with reproach and contempt.

II. How the was discovered in its trials, and worked through all.

1. Though Christ was silent she did not drop, but continued her suit.

2. She passes over the doubt she could not answer, and instead of disputing, adores Him, and prays to Him still.

3. She humbly let pass the (seeming) indignity, and turned that which seemed to make most against her into an argument for her obtaining the mercy she came to Him to beg for.

III. The happy issue of this, how gloriously it was rewarded.

1. Her faith was owned, commended, and admired by the Author of it.

2. The reward of her faith was ample. (Daniel Wilcox.)

Christ and the woman

In judging our Lord’s treatment of this woman-

1. Observe that Christ, while He was upon earth, said nothing and did nothing of Himself.

2. Our Lord, who knew the hearts of men, both saw and esteemed the good disposition of this petitioner, but for a time concealed His kind intentions, being willing to exercise her faith and submission, her patience and perseverance.

The woman’s faith was great-

1. With relation to her religion, and to her country.

2. In comparison with the unbelieving Jews.

3. Considered in itself.

4. Because it stood so severe a trial. (J. Jortin.)

T/he Canaanite’s faith

The position of this woman and the conduct of our Saviour to her.

1. She believed in Jesus before the scene related in this gospel; we distinguish in her conversion that strength of soul which is sure to triumph over all obstacles; all that follows is explained by such a commencement. She was a heathen, and only received God’s Word indirectly, through the prejudices of the Jews. The feeble ray which reached her proved sufficient to guide her feet.

2. The conduct of our Lord corresponds with His manner of acting towards the heathen generally, and with His especial designs of mercy towards her. Our Lord did not so treat this woman merely because she was a heathen; but to make His mercy more conspicuous. While He proves He strengthens her. From the heroes of faith He draws back to exercise their courage.

3. See how this woman wrestles with our Lord. Jesus sought retirement. She anticipated His coming. She was alone in seeking Him. She had to force herself into His presence. But Christ could not escape from the faith of this woman. He allows us to conquer Him. She triumphs over the preventives which our Lord opposed to her. Once in the presence of Jesus she in satisfied. His silence. To try her patience. Only for a time. His speech seems cruel. The Word of God does seem sometimes against the child of God. In the love of Christ she finds refuge against His silence and words; His love is only hidden for a moment under harshness. She could not be defeated because she would not doubt. She triumphs. (Adolphe Monod.)

A word to parents

I. On this occasion Christ had left his own country and people. Perhaps to avoid the hatred of the scribes and Pharisees; or to abate His popularity. We find Him coasting to Tyre and Sidon. Her need was her plea.

II. The leading principles of her faith

1. In this prayer she recognizes the unity of the Deity, “Lord.”

2. What a beautiful trait in her character when she prays, “Have mercy on me;” but we know the chief object of her prayer was her daughter. She identifies herself with her daughter’s misery.

3. She asks for mercy and help (verse 25).

4. Regard Jesus as God able to save or destroy. (F. F. McGlynn, M. A.)

I. The character of the individual.

1. A Greek.

2. A believer in Christ.

II. The cause of her coming.

III. The impediments she met with.

1. A long delay.

2. A mortifying rebuke.

3. An apparent refusal.

4. A silent denial.

Then her conduct:

1. An humble request.

2. A persevering prayer.

3. An humble confession.

4. An affecting reply.

IV. The blessings at last received.

1. The principle our Lord commends is her faith; from faith all other graces spring.

2. He granted her request.

Improvement:

1. The use we should make of affliction.

2. The efficacy of prayer. (The Pulpit.)

The triumph of faith

I. Faith’s approach

1. She came to the right person.

2. In a right spirit.

3. With a right plea

II. Faith’s trial.

1. Christ tried her faith by perfect silence.

2. By seeming indifference.

3. By apparent reproach.

III. Faith’s appeal.

1. She was a devout suppliant.

2. An earnest suppliant.

3. An ingenious suppliant.

IV. Faith’s triumph

1. Christ commends her faith.

2. He grants her request.

3. He healed her daughter. (J. T. Woodhouse.)

The second Sunday in Lent

I. The discouragements which she overcame. These were great, numerous, and increased as she proceeded.

1. The first was the seeming unwillingness of the Saviour to have his retirement disturbed by any one, in any way (Mark 7:24).

2. Her case was itself a very unpromising one. She was a Gentile.

3. The coldness in our Lord’s behaviour, which seemed to disdain the least attention to her-”He answered her not a word.”

4. The conduct of the disciples introduced a still further dissuasion, well calculated to dampen her hope of success.

5. To this was added the still further disheartening answer of the Master, “I am not sent,” etc.

6. Children’s bread was not to be given to the dogs. This was the current spirit of the religion of the times.

II. The means of her victory.

1. She felt her need, and the true character of her affliction.

2. She credited what she had heard of Christ.

3. And believing as she did, she improved her opportunity. Jesus was in the neighbourhood.

4. She confessed her unworthiness.

5. She had a true and powerful faith.

6. And as the result of her faith, she was invincible in her prayers.

III. The lessons which this case teaches.

1. It impressively reminds us of the sorrowful condition of human life.

2. This gospel assures us where our help is.

3. It indicates how to avail ourselves of our great mercies.

4. Precious encouragement does it bring to us. (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

A woman of Canaan

The movements of mankind are best studied in the lives of individuals.

I. The woman herself. All we know of her origin and feeling is contained in the three terms that are applied to her-Canaanite, Syro-Phoenician a Greek. The first two imply her race. She belonged to that race that the Hebrews called Canaanites-that is, Lowlanders, for the great Phoenician people had settled themselves in the fertile valleys, and on the maritime plains of Palestine, and there in their walled cities had developed in the highest degree an ancient civilization. To this Phoenician stock she belonged. It was divided into two parts-the African and the Syrian stock. She belonged to the Syrian, to the people who inhabited the narrow strip of land between Lebanon and the sea. The last term “Greek,” has of course nothing to do with race, nor does it say anything of her language; but religion. St. Paul divides men into Jew and Greek; the word means heathen. She was one of those that worship Baal and Astarte.

II. In her case observe the workings of sorrow. That from the outset there began to operate compensating results which took away some of the bitterness.

1. This sorrow worked out in a greater love “Have mercy on me; my daughter is vexed.” As if she and her daughter were one. It was a mitigation, and in some degree a compensation, that with her sorrow grew such love.

2. The love and the sorrow together co-operated to produce something higher still. They enlarged the heart, purified her feeling, lifted the thought to immortality; Astarte could no longer fill her heart. She wanted a deity that could be a God of love, not of passion; who would create purity, not crush it. This I gather from the fact that she calls Christ “ Son of David.” She began to think trustfully of Israel’s God. Such were the workings of sorrow in her heart.

III. AN illustration of the great drawings between the Saviour and the soul that needs him. There is something mysterious here. It is not by accident that great mercy and misery meet. What is the secret of that journey to Tyre and Sidon. I suppose the Saviour felt some magnetic need pulling upon His heart, claiming the help of His pity and power. She was fifty miles away; the road was mountainous; in all the journey there and back He cures no other affliction and preaches no sermon; His sole purpose was to minister to this single sufferer. The prophetic soul knows when its Lord is nigh.

IV. The serene result that is reached. She learned the power of prayer. The disciples were changed; educated for their missionary work; they see how rich a thing a human heart is. She came asking a mercy for herself, and went away carrying it to others. (R. Glover.)

The woman of Canaan

I. The great faith of this woman is to be traced in her humble confession.

1. She confesses her misery when imploring the mercy of Christ.

2. She confesses her weakness when imploring the help of Christ.

3. She confesses her unworthiness by admitting the mission of Christ.

II. The great faith of this woman is to be traced in her fervent prayer.

1. Mark her recognition of the character of Christ.

2. Her confidence in the power of Christ,

3. Her earnestness in seeking the aid of Christ.

III. The great faith of this woman is to be discovered in her determined perseverance.

1. Her faith overcame the difficulty of obtaining u personal interview with Christ.

2. It overcame the singularly apparent coldness of Christ.

3. It overcame the limitation of the usual ministrations of Christ. (J. Wonnacott.)

The disciples sending away the Canaanite woman

Amongst the causes which keep souls at a distance from Jesus, we must count the attitude of the disciples of Jesus as one of the most powerful. To the Master we must go; not to the disciples. Let us first dispel all misunderstandings. When I declare that we must look to the Master, not to the disciples, I do not forget that the apostles were enlightened by special revelations and were called to found the Church. I do not oppose their teaching to that of the Master; there is no contradiction between them. But when we leave the apostolic age the situation changes. The Church is placed before Christ. But now let us descend to the sphere of the individual conscience. To lead to Jesus! What a privilege and glory. Fidelity of testimony is necessary to this mission. Some are brought to Christ by words, some by indirect influences, others by a love that nothing wearies. But it is possible to put souls away from Jesus Christ. Between them and Christ there have been our sins, pride, etc.

1. Let us remove the hypocrites; to make of their duplicity an arm against the gospel is an unworthy proceeding. You see their inconsistencies; are you sure you do not exaggerate them? Have you weighed all that Christian faith produces of excellent works? Granting that your complaints are well founded: in what way can they justify your unbelief? They could only do so if you had the fairness to seek their cause in the gospel itself. But van contrast the two. Is it not rather the fidelity that offends you, rather than the faults of Christians?

2. A word to you who believe:

1. Judge yourself as you are seeking what is lacking in others. Saved by grace, shall we not exercise mercy?

2. Let us learn to see in our brethren along with the evil that distresses us, the Rood that we have misunderstood until now.

3. Raise your look to the Master, there van will find peace and certainty. (E. Bersier, D. D.)

The woman of Canaan

I. “this poor woman’s unremitting obstinacy, it may so call it, in prayers. See the power of persevering prayer. They may seem for a while unanswered; they may not seem to work any alteration in our secret hearts.

II. The power of intercession. It is our duty to pray for others.

III. That this poor woman’s reiterated prayers are by our Lord called faith. Great is the faith that prays without ceasing. The sphere of common duty is the sphere also of secret spiritual growth.

IV. Regard again this poor woman thus singled out in all the heathen world to receive the only cure, as a type of the Church of God. The Church, like her, has many sons and daughters grievously vexed with the evil spirit. They are brought to Christ in prayer. (G. Moberly, D. C. L.)

Great faith

How singularly and beautifully appreciative Jesus always was of anything, that was good. His words show accuracy of observation and calculation.

I. There are many striking features in the character of this woman. Her motherly care, energy, humility, pleading; but Christ selected only one. Faith the root of all, Some think we make too much of faith, and place it out of its proper proportion.

II. The elements which went to make the “great faith.” Sorrow seems to have been, if not the cradle, yet the school of her faith. She comes and makes her petition as faith always ought, leaving details with God. The test to which she was put was exceedingly severe. (J. Vaughan, M,A.)

Help from he, heaven

“Lord, help me.” This prayer is suitable-

I. For those who are seeking salvation.

II. For a soul under spiritual darkness.

III. For the believer amidst worldly perplexities.

IV. For the Christian labourer.

V. For the dying saint. (A. O.)

The faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman

I. The extraordinary character of her faith.

1. It was based on the most limited knowledge.

2. It conquered natural prejudice in herself, and the fear of its influence in others.

II. Why Christ so severely tested it.

1. His first object was to expose and rebuke the intense bigotry of the Jews around Him.

2. He wished to draw out and exhibit the full strength of her faith.

Lessons:

1. Christ’s mercy and mission extend to all, however vile and outcast they may be.

2. The true way to derive good from Him is by faith, rather than by knowledge or acts of worship.

3. An encouragement to the utmost tenacity and desperation of faith.

4. An illustration of the way in which appearances may deceive us. God may seem to repulse us, but never does so actually. (Congregational Pulpit.)

This woman of Caanan teaches us to pray

A double miracle

1. Of Faith.

2. Of Healing. Thrice did Christ commend “ great faith,” and in each case outside the fold of Israel. In this case the wonder is not that the woman had great faith, but that she had faith at all. Her faith was great because-

I.

II. Learn from this that when God delays a boon, He does not necessarily deny it. (J. H. Burn, B. D.)

Under this story there is the touch of nature which binds us all together. Let us learn from it-

1. Perseverance. Few things can be reached by a single stride. All success is the outcome of previous patience; the finest pictures result from multitudinous touches of the brush. Let us keep our faces to the light, and the persevering desire shall at length be gratified.

2. Faith. This is a far larger thing than can be clothed in any form, and the most tenacious profession does not imply that we have that vivid apprehension of the living God which makes us really trust in and rest on Him. Have you faith as well as a creed? Are you daily trusting in the living God amidst all your wants, and sorrows, and sins?

3. Toleration. We are often inclined to look with insular exclusiveness or half-disdainful curiosity on such non-Christians as we come in contact with. Let us remember that Christ took the children’s bread and cast it to dogs. With such an example before us, we dare not disclaim any as too degraded to share with us the “ one flock and one shepherd.” (Harry Jones, M. A.)

Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat, etc.

The woman’s remark is admirable and delightful. It is full indeed of true theology and real philosophy. She apprehended clearly

A woman’s master-stroke

Was not this a master-stroke? She snares Christ in His own words. (Luther.)

An incident like this

Dean Plumptre gives the following story from the Talmud. “There was a famine in the land, and stores of corn were placed under the care of Rabbi Jehudah the Holy, to be distributed only to those who were skilled in the knowledge of the law. And, behold, a man came, Jonathan, the son of Amram, and clamorously asked for his portion. The Rabbi asked him whether he knew the condition, and had fulfilled it, and then the suppliant changed his tone and said, ‘Nay, but feed me as a dog is fed, who eats of the crumbs of the feast,’ and the Rabbi hearkened to his words, and gave him of the corn.”

Asking for crumbs

Laurence Justinian first Patriarch of Venice, resembled this woman in the prayer he offered when at the point of death. “I dare not ask for a seat among the happy spirits who behold the Holy Trinity. Nevertheless, Thy creature asks for some portion of the crumbs of Thy most holy table. It shall be more than enough for me, O, how much mere than enough! If Thou wilt not refuse some little place to this Thy poor servant beneath the feet of the least of Thine elect.”

The, coasts of Tyre and Sidon

This narrative records a visit of Jesus to a region which lay beyond the borders of the Jewish land. It did not lie at any great distance; it was within a day’s ride of Capernaum, and it could be seen from hill-tops just behind Nazareth; yet it was an alien country, and that notable strip of the Mediterranean shore on which Tyre and Sidon were situated had never belonged to the Jewish people. The coast of Tyre and Sidon was fringed by an almost continuous line of buildings; quays, warehouses, and private residences dotted the whole shore-line, and it was therefore no retired spot, but one which swarmed with a large and busy population, with ships sailing on the face of the waters, and the fishermen plying their trade within sight of the shore. The scene was very unlike those which were most associated with our Lord’s presence. He was here surrounded by abundant tokens of vigorous maritime and naval life. Instead of shepherds, sowers, cornfields, scribes, and Pharisees, there were warehouses, docks, ship-building yards, and sailors, amongst which He moved when He departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. (Harry Jones, M. A.)

Spread of truth to foreign lands

Captain Cook found in the South Seas some uninhabited islands, waving with the fruits and flowers peculiar to Europe. No human hand had planted the seeds in that soil. How, then, were they there? A boy in one of our valleys is amusing himself with seeds. A few of them fall from his hand into the tiny stream at his cottage door: they are carried down to the river, which floats them out to sea. They are drifted about for thousands of miles, and at last cast upon the shore of a South Sea island. A bird picks them up, and flies to its nest; but, scared by a hawk, lets them drop. They are covered with the leaves of the forest till spring calls them forth. By and by the wind shakes out the ripe seed, and carries it abroad. Again it falls into the kindly bosom of the earth, and again spring draws it forth. Thus, we may suppose, the deserted island is soon clothed with an European harvest. And thus the seed of God’s Word is often scattered, we cannot tell how. (J. Wells.)

Grievously vexed with a devil

(demoniacal possession):-It is agreed on by all sober interpreters of Scripture that, at this period of the world, God permitted evil spirits to take possession of, and to afflict, individuals to an extent that He did not before and has not since permitted;

Silence

Silence is not refusal. The reasons for Christ’s silence at this time were:

1. In order that by exercising her faith He might strengthen and deepen it.

2. That He might manifest it to others, and so give her as an example to those who stood by, as well as to future generations.

3. That He might not offer an additional stumbling-block to the Jews, to whom the calling-in of the Gentiles was an abomination. (W. Denton.)

Not because He was unwilling to speak, but because there are occasions on which silence is more eloquent and stirring to the thought than speech. Not infrequently silence is golden, while speech is “silvern;” and this was one such occasion. (J. Morison, D. D.)

The lost sheep of the house of Israel

It was necessary that there should be some limits to our Lord’s personal ministry; and it was wise that these limits should be fixed at the circumference of the circle of Israel. To have spread out His ministry farther, during the brief period of His terrestrial career, would simply have been to have thinned out and weakened His influence. What might have been gained extensively would have been lost intensively. It was of primary moment that He should make sure of a foothold, on which He might plant His moral machinery for moving the world. That foothold He did secure in the house of Israel, the household of Israel, the family of Israel; for the whole nation was but a developed family circle. (J. Morison, D. D.)

Moral persistence

To sink under the burden argueth weakness, but it is strength of faith to wrestle through it. We read of Pherecides, a Grecian, in a naval fight between his nation and Xerxes, that he held a boat in which the Persians were fighting, first with his right arm; when that was cut off, with his left; when that was cut off, with his teeth; and would not let go his holdfast but with his life. (T. Manton.)

The use of delay

Some old writer thus quaintly explains the case. “Christ’s love is wise. There is an art in His strange delays, which make us love-sick. We cheapen what is easily got, and under-rate anything that is at our elbow; but delays heighten and raise the market value of Christ’s blessings. He wishes to make our faith stronger, and His trials are for the triumph of our faith. He did as we do when we hold toys dangling before our children, that we may make them desire and enjoy them more. He acts as we do with musicians at the door; for when they please us, we do not give them their penny at once, that we may hear their music longer.” (J. Wells.)

The kindness of refusals

Monica, the mother of Augustine, prayed that her godless boy might not go to Rome, for she feared that Rome would be his ruin. God did not grant that request, because He had something better in store for her. Augustine went to Rome, and was converted there. (J. Wells.)

Stern truths

This was the most cutting of all-telling her in plain terms that she had no more right to get what she asked, than the dogs have to get the children’s bread; and also intimating very plainly that she was no better than a dog. Still she was not discouraged: even this did not put her off. If she had not possessed great faith, how would she have acted? Just as many at the present day do when they hear a plain sermon (as they call it); when they hear in plain words what the Bible says of human nature; they don’t like that; they can’t be so very bad as all that; they don’t approve of what that preacher says at all, and so they go to some other place where they will hear more palatable language about the kindness of man-his good nature, generosity, noblemindedness, and so forth; but they who are of the truth will not listen to this, for they know it to be a lie, and the children of the truth can take no pleasure in a lie. People think it is very bad to hear themselves called “ great sinners; “ they think very strangely of a man if he tells them they are poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked; but, I suppose, if they heard the term “ dog” applied to them as Christ applied it to this woman here, they would be up in arms at once, openly scout at so unwarrantable an affront, and take good care never to go near that preacher again. So did not this woman; she had faith-strong faith; she acknowledges the aptness of the illustration, and humbly accepts Christ’s estimate of her as the right one. (Bishop Gregg.)

The dogs

There was some reason lying at the base of the designation. The heathens around were, in the mass, exceedingly unclean and ferocious: barking too, incessantly, at the true God and true godliness. But our Lord, in this case, refers not to the wild, fierce, filthy dogs, belonging to nobody, that prowl about Oriental cities; but to little pet dogs, in which children are interested, and with which they play. Most probably there might be one or more of them, within sight, in the company of some children. (J. Morison, D. D.)

Great thoughts of Christ

The Syro-Phoenician woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking great thoughts of Christ. The Master had talked about the children’s bread. “Now,” argued she, “since Thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that Thou art a generous housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on Thy table. There will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because the dogs are fed.” She thought Him one who kept so good a table that all she needed would only be a crumb in comparison. Yet remember what she wanted was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, “It is nothing for him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give.” This is the royal road to comfort. Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Perseverance of faith

An unbelieving heart may have some flash of spirit and resolution, but it wants free mettle, and will be sure to jade in a long journey. Faith will throw in the net of prayer again and again, as long as God commands and the promise encourageth. The greyhound hunts by sight, and when he cannot see his game he gives over running; but the true hound by scent, he hunts over hedge and ditch; though he sees not the hare, he pursues all the day long. Thus an unbelieving heart may be drawn out upon some visible probabilities and sensible hopes of a coming mercy to pray and exercise a little faith, but when these are out of sight, his heart fails him; but faith keeps the scent of the promise, and gives not over the chase. (Salter.)

Faith gives prevalency to prayer.

In the several precedents of praying saints upon Scripture record you may see how the spirit of prayer ebbed and flowed, fell and rose, as their faith was up and dawn … This made the woman of Canaan so invincibly importunate; let Christ frown and chide, deny and rebuke her, she yet makes her approaches nearer and nearer, gathering arguments from His very denials, as if a soldier should shoot his enemy’s bullets back upon him again; and Christ tells us what kept up her spirit undaunted-“O woman, great is thy faith.” (Gurnall.)

Children’s bread given to dogs

1. When her case was come to such a point, she heard of the Lord Jesus; and what she heard she acted upon. They told her that He was a great Healer of the sick, and able to cast out devils. She was not content with that information, but she set to work at once to try its value.

2. This woman was most desperately resolved. She had made up her mind, I believe, that she would never go back to the place from whence she came till she had received the blessing.

3. I may not leave this picture without observing that this woman triumphantly endured a trial very common among seeking souls. Here is a woman who conquered Christ; let us go by her rule and we will conquer Christ too by His own grace.

I. In the first place, observe that she admits the accusation brought against her. Jesus called her a dog, and she meekly said, “Truth. Lord.” Never play into the devil’s hands by excusing sinners in their sins. The woman in this case, if it had been a sound way of getting comfort, would have argued, “.No, Lord, I am not a dog; I may not be all I ought to be, but I am not a dog at any rate; I am a human being. Thou speakest too sharply; good Master, do not be unjust.” Instead of that she admits the whole. This showed that she was in a right state of mind, since she admitted in its blackest, heaviest meaning whatever the Saviour might choose to say against her. By night, the glow-worm is bright like a star, and rotten touchwood glistens like molten gold; by the light of day the glow-worm is a miserable insect, and the rotten wood is decay, and nothing more. So with us; until the light comes into us we count ourselves good, but when heaven’s light shines our heart is discovered to be rottenness, corruption, and decay. Do not whisper in the mourner’s ear that it is not so, and do not delude yourself into the belief that it is not so.

II. But notice, in the second place, see adheres to Christ notwithstanding. Did you notice the force of what she said? “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from”-where? “From their Master’s table.”

III. Furthermore, the woman’s great master weapon, the needle gun which she used in her battle, was this, she had learned the art of getting comfort out of her miseries. Jesus called her a dog. “Yes,” said she, “but then dogs get the crumbs.” She could see a silver lining to the black cloud. If I deserved anything there would be the less room for mercy, for something would be due to me as a matter of justice, but as I am a sheer mass of undeservingness, there is room for the Lord to reveal the aboundings of His grace. There is no room for a man to be generous amongst yonder splendid mansions in Belgravia. Suppose a man had thousands of pounds in his pocket, and desired to give it away in charity, he would be terribly hampered amid princely palaces. If he were to knock at the doors of those great houses, and say he wanted an opportunity of being charitable, powdered footmen would slam the door in his face, and tell him to be gone with his impudence. But come along with me; let us wander down the mews, all among the dunghills, and get away into back alleys, where crowds of ragged children are playing amid filth and squalor, where all the people are miserably poor, and where cholera is festering. Now, sir, down with your money-bags; here is plenty of room for your charity; now you may put both your hands into your pocket, and not fear that anybody will refuse you. You may spend your money right and left now with ease and satisfaction. When the God of mercy comes down to distribute mercy, He cannot give it to those who do not want it; but you need forgiveness, for you are full of sin, and you are just the person likely to receive it. “Ah!” saith one, “I am so sick at heart; I cannot believe, I cannot pray.” If I saw the doctor’s brougham driving along at a great rate through the streets, I should be sure that he was not coming to my house, for I do not require him; but if I had to guess where he was going, I should conclude that he was hastening to some sick or dying person. The Lord Jesus is the Physician of souls. Do try now, thus to find hope in the very hopelessness of thy condition, in whatever aspect that hopelessness may come to thee. The Bible says that thou art dead in sin, conclude then that there is space for Jesus to come, since He is the Resurrection and the Life. Your ruin is your argument for mercy; your poverty is your plea for heavenly alms; and your need is your motive for heavenly goodness. Go as you are, and let your miseries plead for you.

IV. Let me, in the fourth place, notice the way in which the woman gained comfort. She thought great thoughts of Christ. It was a very great thing to her-but she had a high esteem of Christ. She said, “It is nothing to Him-it is but a crumb for Christ to give.”

V. And so you see, in the last place, she won the victory. She had, first of all, overcome herself. She had conquered in another fight before she wrestled with the Saviour-and that with her own soul. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The little dogs

I. The mouth of faith can never be closed.

1. It cannot be closed on account of the closed ear and mouth of Christ.

2. Not by the conduct of the disciples.

3. Not by exclusive doctrine which appeared to confine the blessing to a favoured few.

4. Not by a sense of admitted unworthiness.

5. -Not by the darkest and most depressing influences.

II. Faith never disputes with the Lord.

1. Faith assents to all the Lord says-“Truth, Lord.”

2. It worships.

3. She did not suggest that any alteration should be made for her.

III. Faith argues.

1. She argued from her hopeful position-“I am a dog, but Thou hast come all the way to Sidon,-I am under Thy table.”

2. Her next plea was her encouraging relationship-“Master’s table.”

3. She pleads her association with the children.

4. She pleads the abundance of the provision

5. She looked at things from Christ’s point of view.

IV. Faith wins her suit.

1. Her faith won a commendation for itself.

2. She gained her desire.

This woman is a lesson to all who imagine themselves outside the pale of salvation; an example to all whose efforts after salvation have been apparently repulsed; a lesson to every intercessor. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Our Lord had a very quick eye for spying faith

If the jewel was lying in the mire His eye caught its glitter, if there was a choice ear of wheat among the thorns He failed not to perceive it. Faith has a strong attraction for the Lord Jesus; at the sight of it “the king is held in the galleries” and cries “thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.” The Lord Jesus was charmed with the fair jewel of this woman’s faith, and watching it and delighting in it He resolved to turn it round and set it in other lights, that the various facets of this priceless diamond might each one flash its brilliance and delight His soul. Therefore He tried her faith by His silence, and by His discouraging replies that He might see its strength; but He was all the while delighting in it, and secretly sustaining it, and when He had sufficiently tried it, He brought it forth as gold, and set His own royal mark upon it in these memorable words, “O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” (C. H. Spurgeon)

The elements of prevailing prayer

1. Sincerity.

2. Humility.

3. Importunity.

4. Faith. (J. B. Jeter, D. D.)

The greatness of a woman’s faith

1. It was exercised by a woman.

2. It was a mother’s faith.

3. It had an aim.

4. It disregarded apparent partiality.

5. It was not discouraged by apparent delay.

6. It was devoid of selfishness.

7. It gathered strength from its exercise.

8. It won. (B. J. Hoadley)
.

The trial and triumph of faith

Thee parts of the miracle are-

I. The place where it was wrought.

II. The parties on whom.

III. The impulsive cause.

IV. The miracle itself, wrought by the woman’s faith: in which we have-

1. Christ’s heightening of her faith.

2. The granting of her desire.

3. The measure of Christ’s bounty-“As thou wilt.”

4. The healing of her daughter. (S. Rutherford.)

“She crieth after us.”

1. Christ’s love is liberal, but yet it must be sued.

2. Christ’s love is wise. He holdeth us knocking till our desire be love-sick for Him.

3. His love must not only lead the heart, but also draw. Violence in love is most taking.

Christ looking beyond His temporary limits

Christ doth but draw aside a lap of the curtain of separation, and look through to one believing heathen: the King openeth one little window, and holdeth out His face, in one glimpse, to the woman of Canaan. (S. Rutherford.)

Grace working on unpromising material

Christ, then, can make and frame a fair heaven out of an ugly hell and out of the knottiest timber He can make vessels of mercy, for service in the high palace of glory. (S. Rutherford.)

Prayer strengthened by adversity

Also, the prayers of the saints in prosperity are but summer prayers, slow, lazy, and alas! too formal. In trouble, they rain out prayers, or cast them out in co-natural violence, as a fountain doth cast out waters. (S. Rutherford.)

Determination in prayer

Grace, grace now is the only oil to our wheels. Christ hath taken the castle, both in-works and out-works, when He hath taken the will, the proudest enemy that Christ hath out of hell. (S. Rutherford.)

A right knowledge of satanic torments will lead to Christ for relief

It were good we knew our own misery: the man resolveth a prisoner has a sweet life, who loveth his own chains, because made of gold, and hateth them not because chains; and falleth to paint the walls of his dungeon, and to put up hangings in his prison, and will but over-gild with gold his iron fetters. Oh! are we not in love with our own dungeon of sin? And do we not bear a kind love to our father, the devil? We bring in provision for the flesh, and nourish the old man, as old as since Adam first sinned. Alas ‘. we never saw our father in the face: we love the devil, as the devil fallen in sin; but we see him not as a devil, but only under the embroideries of golden and silken temptations; we sow to the flesh; we bring in our crop to the devil, but we know not our landlord; and because sense and flesh are nearer to us than God, we desire more the liberties of state, free commerce, and peace with the king, than Christ’s liberties, the power and purity of the gospel, that we may negotiate with Heaven and have peace with God. (S. Rutherford.)

Good to be near Christ

The other thing observable is that it is good to be near the place where Christ is. It was an advantage, that the woman dwelt upon the borders of the land where Christ was. It is good for the poor to be a neigh-hour beside the rich; and for the thirsty to take up house, and dwell at the fountain; and for the sick to border with the physician. Oh I love the ground that Christ walketh on. To be born in Sion is an honour, “Because there the Lord dwelleth” (Psalms 87:6.) It is a blessing to hear and see Christ (Matthew 13:16). Christ knoweth them well whom He chooseth: grace is a rare piece of the choice and the flower of the love of heaven: there be many common stones; not many pearls, not many diamonds and sapphires. (S. Rutherford.)

Christ hears prayer even if He does not answer

It is said, He answered her not a word: but it is not said, He beard not one word: these two differ much. Christ often heareth when He doth not answer; His not answering is an answer, and speaks thus, Pray on, go on, and cry; for the Lord holdeth His door fast bolted, not to keep out, but that you may knock and knock. Prayer is to God, worship; to us, often, it is but a servant upon mere necessity sent on a business. The father will cause his child say over again, what he once heard him say, because he delighteth to hear him speak. (S. Rutherford.)

Faith strengthened by importunate prayer

Wrestling addeth strength to arms and body; praying, and praying again, strengtheneth faith; customary running lengtheneth the breath. (S. Rutherford.)

Tears have a tongue

(Psalms 6:8):-Tears have a tongue, and grammar, and language, that our Father knoweth. Babes have no prayers for the breast, but, weeping; the mother can read hunger in weeping. (S. Rutherford.)

Prayer deeper than words

(2 Peter 3:10):-Love and longing for Christ have eagle’s wings; and love flieth, when words do but creep as a snail.

Fervour in prayer

Though God hear prayer, only as prayer offered in Christ, not because rely fervent; yet fervour is a heavenly ingredient in prayer. An arrow drawn with full strength hath a speedier issue; therefore, the prayers of the saints are expressed by crying in Scripture (Psalms 22:2). (S. Rutherford)

Utilizing rich spiritual influences

It shall be useful then for the saints, when the Spirit cometh in his stirrings and impetuous acts, to co-operate with him, and to answer his wind-blowing. It is good to hoist up sail, and make out, when a fair wind and a strong tide calleth. Sometimes grace maketh the heart as a hot iron: it is good then to smite with the hammer. When your spirit is docile, and there cometh a gale of Christ’s sweet west wind, and rusheth in with a warmness of heart, in a praying disposition to retire to a corner, and pour out the soul before the Lord: as we are to take Christ at His word, so are we to take Christ’s Spirit at His work. (S. Rutherford.)

“My daughter”

Children.

1. So to hold, as we are willingly to let go; love them as creatures only: often the child is the mother’s daughter, and the mother’s god.

2. We are to strive to have them freed from under the power of the devil, as this woman doth; for they come into the world fuel for hell. Parents make more account, all their life, to make gold, rather than grace, their children’s patrimony and legacy.

3. Look at them as May flowers; as born to come and appear for a space in the element of death: so they sport, laugh, run, eat, drink, and glisten like comets in the air, or flying meteors in the sphere of the clouds, and often go down to the grave before their parents.

4. Beware of selfishness, for children are ourself, and their sins white and innocent sins to us. Eli honoured his sons more than God, and God put a mark of wrath on his house. (S. Rutherford.)

The mutual attractions between Jesus and the soul

These drawings, brethren, of Jesus and the souls of men so mutual, so strong, how wonderful are they ‘. Men are drawn to Him not because preachers beguile them, not because one generation misleads another, they are drawn by laws of gravitation; and Kepler’s laws hold good of souls as well as they do of planets. Christ simply attracts in the proportion to His mass, and it is His massive being, His wealth of help, His power of pity, His infinite wisdom, His store of tenderness, that has in all ages, and will in all ages, attract the hearts of men. And the hearts of men attract Him. (R. Glover.)

All things possible to faith

As we “ will,” so faith obtains the good. “It can be done!” says faith. “It shall be done!” says the will. And it is done I The whole history of the world, in all its divisions, may be quoted in proof of this axiom. Space can be travelled by steam, says faith. Man has a will that it should be so. Space says, “Be it unto thee as thou wilt: “and it is done. The Atlantic Ocean can be crossed in seven days, says faith. The will of man says, It shall be so; and it is so. Thought can be conveyed as quickly a thousand miles as one. It is willed to be so, and it is done. The Alps can be tunnelled for a railway, says faith. I will it to be done says the engineer; and the Alps say, “Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” Thus all things apparently impossible to reason become palpable facts to faith in its persistent exercises. (J. Bate.)

Christ cannot be hid

1. In His cause and truth.

2. Believers cannot hide a good or bad condition in the soul.

3. The joy of Christ’s presence cannot be hid.

4. Grace in a sincere professor, and Christ, cannot be hid. (S. Rutherford.)

“Hearing of Him.” What had she heard?

I. That Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel and could and was willing to heal

1. Hearing of Christ drew her to Him.

2. It is good to border with Christ, and to be near hand to Him.

II. None can come to Christ except they hear a good report of Him.

III. Many open their ears to Christ, but they hear not; they want a spiritual faculty of observing.

IV. Many put Christ in an ear without a bottom, as leaking and running out vessels. (S. Rutherford.)

Her prayer

1. The manner of it-“She cried.”

2. The party to whom she prayeth-“O Lord, Thou Son of David.”

3. The petition-“Have mercy upon me.”

4. The reason-“For my daughter,” etc. (S. Rutherford.)

The woman of Canaan

1. The naturalness of faith (trust).

2. The connection of faith and works. She believed (trusted) to have help from Christ, and this led her to use the means. So faith in everything must move to works to realize its end.

3. The wisdom of using an opportunity. Jesus went into the coast of Tyre and Sidon. The woman knew of it, and she used the opportunity for the good of her daughter.

4. The force of sympathy. As a mother, she felt for her daughter. Hence her action. If we feel for others-sinners, heathens, afflicted ones, etc.,-we are moved to help them, or seek help for them, according to our feelings.

5. The dignity of humiliation. How grand this woman appears as she says, “Truth, Lord,” etc.

6. The power of persistence in a good cause and with a good object. The woman would have no denial.

7. The nature of fervent, powerful prayer. She came to Him and worshipped Him, and said, “Lord, help me.”

8. The victory of faith-“O woman,” etc. It was no grief, but a joy, to Christ to yield the victory to this woman’s faith. (J. Bate.)


Verse 28

Matthew 15:21; Matthew 15:28

Then Jesus went thence and departed Into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

The woman of Canaan

I. What made the faith of this woman so remarkable?

1. She had much against her in her original circumstances. In the eye of a Jew she belonged to the most hated of all the Gentile races. There was a frontier line of dislike to cross, far wider than any distance between Tyre and Palestine. Yet it did not keep her from finding her way to the great Teacher of the Jewish nation.

2. She got little countenance from Christ’s disciples. Annoyed at her importunity, and desiring to be freed from the trouble of her presence, they desired Christ to send her away. She could not but feel they would gladly be rid of her, in the way some cast an alms to a persistent beggar. Weaker faith would have felt the chill, and would have desisted. But it is not from them that she seeks an answer. She will take her dismissal from none but Christ Himself.

3. The woman’s faith reaches its greatest trial in the conduct of Christ. The disciples, cold as they are, seem merciful compared with their Master. As she cries, and pours her heart into her prayer, He moves away with silent neglect. That dreadful silence is harder to bear than the sorest word that can be spoken. Still she cried after Him, and at last He spoke. But His words, were they not even harder than His silence? For He did not speak to her, but only of her, and that in such a slighting manner as almost to quench all hope. Still she persists, and at length-as Christ all along intended she should-gains her heart’s desire.

II. What helped her faith to hold on and triumph? We do not speak of the first cause of all, which was Christ’s eye watching her steps, and His hand bearing her up, but of the mediate causes by which her faith was upheld.

1. She had a deep home and heart sorrow, spurring her on to make every exertion. In other means had failed, but something told her there was hope here, and to this she clung. The greater the feeling of the trouble, the more surely will it carry you into the presence of the only Saviour.

2. She had learned to take a very humble view of herself. As humility goes deep down, faith rises up high and strong, for humility furnishes the roots by which faith holds on.

3. Her faith was so strong, because it had hold of another Christ, greater and more merciful than her eyes saw. She looked beyond appearances, and fixed her gaze on things unseen and eternal. It is this which keeps men right, amid adverse surroundings. Thick thunderclouds of Atheism and Pessimism sometimes hang lowering over the earth, and threaten to quench all the higher hope; but God has given to the spirit a power by which it can pass up through them and sing like the lark in the sunshine and the blue sky. It is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ to educate and strengthen it by drawing it, often through much tribulation, to Himself. (J. Ker, D. D.)

Victorious wrestling in prayer

Of all the expressions of Christian life, prayer is the foremost, h precedes and accompanies every other. It is the breathing of the soul, the palpitation of the heart of the new inward man.

I.

II. The sense of our want urges us to pray. Knowledge of our sinfulness drives us to God. As the drowning man attaches himself to the saving hand, and does not let go his hold, so the soul attaches itself to the hand of Jesus, and refuses to be shaken off. Then the wrestling prayer for salvation begins, for it is begotten of the feeling of the soul’s misery.

III. What helps us to overcome in the struggle is the perseverance of humble faith. Jesus is the conqueror; but Jesus we seize by faith, and with Him is victory.

1. We must seek Jesus. No rest till we come to Him. No other can help us, or rid us of our sin.

2. We must not let Jesus go. If He goes away, follow Him; if He seems to be stern, become more urgent; if He hides His face, cry the louder; if He will not listen, assail His heart. Every No of Jesus is an Aye in disguise. It is true we deserve none of the things we pray for; but He has enough and to spare for all; and after the children are filled, He can afford to cast the crumbs to the dogs. If we have but the crumbs from His rich table, we shall be satisfied. Even if we are the last in His kingdom, it is sufficient, so that we only have some share of His grace. If it is only one look of His eye; only one glance from Him. If we are not allowed to rest on His breast with John, we shall be satisfied if only with Thomas we are permitted to behold the print of the nails. And when we have become quite exhausted in wrestling with Him, and all our strength is broken; when, so to speak, the hollow of our thigh is out of joint; when we can only cling to Him and declare we will not let Him go except He bless us; even then we shall overcome, and He will declare Himself to be vanquished.

IV. What do we win in the victory? The blessing of Jesus Christ-“Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.” What a wonderful word. To whom does it apply? To him who first has sacrificed his self-will, and has learnt to say, from the bottom of his heart, “Lord, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Then God’s will and man’s are become one. Just before, almost powerless: now, almost almighty. He who thus wins God’s heart, wins everything. A child of God is lord over all things, (C. E. Luthardt.)

The woman of Canaan

This story is the simplest of dramas, having two persons and a chorus.

I. The first person is the heathen woman, and here we note:

II. The other person is the Lord Jesus. Looking on Him as the model of human duty, and the expression of the Divine nature, we find in this story things amazing and perplexing. What are we to learn from them?

1. The perplexities in the life of Christ are like the perplexities in the government of God.

2. This incident exhibits Christ gazing inexorable, for a time, on human suffering.

3. His apparent unkindness is only apparent.

4. His blessing is already given, while yet the supplicant is unaware of it. (Leonard W. Bacon)

I. That it is highly gratifying to meet with devout persons where we expect not to find them. She was a heathen, not a Jew.

II. That afflictions, both personal and domestic, are powerful incentives to prayer.

III. That in our exercises of devotion we ought to pray for others as; well as for ourselves.

IV. That sincere supplicants may meet with great discouragements in prayer. Delays are not denials. We are apt to value highly that which costs us effort

V. That sincere supplicants are always persevering.

VI. That the prayer of faith must ultimately prevail. (R. Newton.)

Significant silence

The Saviour’s silence was not the result of intellectual poverty. Was not that of one taken with mere self-considerations. Was not caused by indifference.

I. The Saviour’s silence indicates thoughtfulness.

II. Denotes loving estimates.

III. Manifests the greatness of self-control. Effective speech is power over one’s fellows, but silence is power over one’s own self.

IV. And yet the Saviour’s silence may have been sympathetic.

V. Was preparative. What power in a judicious pause. Delay may enhance the preciousness of the gift. (W. Burrows, B. A.)

The Woman of Canaan

I. What we can find in this woman to commend.

1. Strong and wise parental love.

2. Her earnestness.

3. Deep humility.

II. What our Lord himself actually commended in her-“Great is thy faith.” This virtue singled out because all others flow from it.

III. The gracious treatment she received from our Lord.

1. Christ delayed His answer to her petition.

2. He gave her strength to persevere in prayer for it, and made that prayer more humble and earnest.

3. He put on her signal honour.

4. He at last gave her all that she desired.

5. There is often more love towards us in the heart of Christ than we can see in His dealings with us.

6. The prayer of faith is always crowned with success. (C. Bradley.)

I. Who this woman was. She was not an Israelite. The cause of her sorrow was not her own. Her prayer.

II. Her Saviour.

1. His silence when we should not have expected it.

2. He seems to plead that His commission had been exclusively to Israel.

3. He appears to add insult to cruelty.

4. He suffers Himself to be conquered by faith.

II. What does this say to you?

1. You may go to Christ for yourselves.

2. You may go to Christ for your relatives.

3. Jesus can and will do helpless sinners good. (T. Mortimer.)

God’s delays in answering prayer

1. To try our faith.

2. To foster humility.

3. To intensify desire after the blessings we request.

4. To enhance the joy of success when the answer is vouchsafed.

5. Blessed are they that wait for Him. (C. M. Merry.)

The elements of prevailing prayer

I. Sincerity.

II. Humility.

III. Importunity.

IV. Faith. Conclude with a few practical remarks. (J. B. Jeher, D. D.)

Faith triumphing over difficulties

Faith overcomes-

I. Obstacles in our personal circumstances.

II. The concealments of Jesus.

III. The silence of Jesus.

IV. The refusals of Jesus.

V. The reproaches of Jesus. (Anon.)

The woman of Canaan

This is an instance of a wrestling faith; faith wrestling with grievous temptations, but at length obtaining help from God. We ought to consider this

I. The quality of the woman.

II. She was a believer.

III. The greatness and strength of her faith; seen in her trials and temptations; and in her victory over them, by her importunity, humility, and resolved confidence.

The woman’s temptations are four.

I. Christ’s silence. Though a sore temptation, this should not yet weaken our faith; for God’s delay is for His own glory and our good: to enlarge our desires, and put greater fervency into them.

II. The small assistance she had from the disciples.

III. Christ’s seeming to exclude her from His commission.

IV. Christ’s answer implying a contempt of her, or at least a strong reason against her.

The woman’s victory over her temptations.

I. By her importunity.

II. Her humility.

III. Her resolved confidence. All which are the fruits of great faith. (T. Manton.)

The woman of Canaan

I. The trials and difficulties this supplicant’s faith met with.

1. Christ is wholly silent.

2. Christ intimates that He had nothing to do with her.

3. Christ seems to answer with reproach and contempt.

II. How the was discovered in its trials, and worked through all.

1. Though Christ was silent she did not drop, but continued her suit.

2. She passes over the doubt she could not answer, and instead of disputing, adores Him, and prays to Him still.

3. She humbly let pass the (seeming) indignity, and turned that which seemed to make most against her into an argument for her obtaining the mercy she came to Him to beg for.

III. The happy issue of this, how gloriously it was rewarded.

1. Her faith was owned, commended, and admired by the Author of it.

2. The reward of her faith was ample. (Daniel Wilcox.)

Christ and the woman

In judging our Lord’s treatment of this woman-

1. Observe that Christ, while He was upon earth, said nothing and did nothing of Himself.

2. Our Lord, who knew the hearts of men, both saw and esteemed the good disposition of this petitioner, but for a time concealed His kind intentions, being willing to exercise her faith and submission, her patience and perseverance.

The woman’s faith was great-

1. With relation to her religion, and to her country.

2. In comparison with the unbelieving Jews.

3. Considered in itself.

4. Because it stood so severe a trial. (J. Jortin.)

T/he Canaanite’s faith

The position of this woman and the conduct of our Saviour to her.

1. She believed in Jesus before the scene related in this gospel; we distinguish in her conversion that strength of soul which is sure to triumph over all obstacles; all that follows is explained by such a commencement. She was a heathen, and only received God’s Word indirectly, through the prejudices of the Jews. The feeble ray which reached her proved sufficient to guide her feet.

2. The conduct of our Lord corresponds with His manner of acting towards the heathen generally, and with His especial designs of mercy towards her. Our Lord did not so treat this woman merely because she was a heathen; but to make His mercy more conspicuous. While He proves He strengthens her. From the heroes of faith He draws back to exercise their courage.

3. See how this woman wrestles with our Lord. Jesus sought retirement. She anticipated His coming. She was alone in seeking Him. She had to force herself into His presence. But Christ could not escape from the faith of this woman. He allows us to conquer Him. She triumphs over the preventives which our Lord opposed to her. Once in the presence of Jesus she in satisfied. His silence. To try her patience. Only for a time. His speech seems cruel. The Word of God does seem sometimes against the child of God. In the love of Christ she finds refuge against His silence and words; His love is only hidden for a moment under harshness. She could not be defeated because she would not doubt. She triumphs. (Adolphe Monod.)

A word to parents

I. On this occasion Christ had left his own country and people. Perhaps to avoid the hatred of the scribes and Pharisees; or to abate His popularity. We find Him coasting to Tyre and Sidon. Her need was her plea.

II. The leading principles of her faith

1. In this prayer she recognizes the unity of the Deity, “Lord.”

2. What a beautiful trait in her character when she prays, “Have mercy on me;” but we know the chief object of her prayer was her daughter. She identifies herself with her daughter’s misery.

3. She asks for mercy and help (verse 25).

4. Regard Jesus as God able to save or destroy. (F. F. McGlynn, M. A.)

I. The character of the individual.

1. A Greek.

2. A believer in Christ.

II. The cause of her coming.

III. The impediments she met with.

1. A long delay.

2. A mortifying rebuke.

3. An apparent refusal.

4. A silent denial.

Then her conduct:

1. An humble request.

2. A persevering prayer.

3. An humble confession.

4. An affecting reply.

IV. The blessings at last received.

1. The principle our Lord commends is her faith; from faith all other graces spring.

2. He granted her request.

Improvement:

1. The use we should make of affliction.

2. The efficacy of prayer. (The Pulpit.)

The triumph of faith

I. Faith’s approach

1. She came to the right person.

2. In a right spirit.

3. With a right plea

II. Faith’s trial.

1. Christ tried her faith by perfect silence.

2. By seeming indifference.

3. By apparent reproach.

III. Faith’s appeal.

1. She was a devout suppliant.

2. An earnest suppliant.

3. An ingenious suppliant.

IV. Faith’s triumph

1. Christ commends her faith.

2. He grants her request.

3. He healed her daughter. (J. T. Woodhouse.)

The second Sunday in Lent

I. The discouragements which she overcame. These were great, numerous, and increased as she proceeded.

1. The first was the seeming unwillingness of the Saviour to have his retirement disturbed by any one, in any way (Mark 7:24).

2. Her case was itself a very unpromising one. She was a Gentile.

3. The coldness in our Lord’s behaviour, which seemed to disdain the least attention to her-”He answered her not a word.”

4. The conduct of the disciples introduced a still further dissuasion, well calculated to dampen her hope of success.

5. To this was added the still further disheartening answer of the Master, “I am not sent,” etc.

6. Children’s bread was not to be given to the dogs. This was the current spirit of the religion of the times.

II. The means of her victory.

1. She felt her need, and the true character of her affliction.

2. She credited what she had heard of Christ.

3. And believing as she did, she improved her opportunity. Jesus was in the neighbourhood.

4. She confessed her unworthiness.

5. She had a true and powerful faith.

6. And as the result of her faith, she was invincible in her prayers.

III. The lessons which this case teaches.

1. It impressively reminds us of the sorrowful condition of human life.

2. This gospel assures us where our help is.

3. It indicates how to avail ourselves of our great mercies.

4. Precious encouragement does it bring to us. (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

A woman of Canaan

The movements of mankind are best studied in the lives of individuals.

I. The woman herself. All we know of her origin and feeling is contained in the three terms that are applied to her-Canaanite, Syro-Phoenician a Greek. The first two imply her race. She belonged to that race that the Hebrews called Canaanites-that is, Lowlanders, for the great Phoenician people had settled themselves in the fertile valleys, and on the maritime plains of Palestine, and there in their walled cities had developed in the highest degree an ancient civilization. To this Phoenician stock she belonged. It was divided into two parts-the African and the Syrian stock. She belonged to the Syrian, to the people who inhabited the narrow strip of land between Lebanon and the sea. The last term “Greek,” has of course nothing to do with race, nor does it say anything of her language; but religion. St. Paul divides men into Jew and Greek; the word means heathen. She was one of those that worship Baal and Astarte.

II. In her case observe the workings of sorrow. That from the outset there began to operate compensating results which took away some of the bitterness.

1. This sorrow worked out in a greater love “Have mercy on me; my daughter is vexed.” As if she and her daughter were one. It was a mitigation, and in some degree a compensation, that with her sorrow grew such love.

2. The love and the sorrow together co-operated to produce something higher still. They enlarged the heart, purified her feeling, lifted the thought to immortality; Astarte could no longer fill her heart. She wanted a deity that could be a God of love, not of passion; who would create purity, not crush it. This I gather from the fact that she calls Christ “ Son of David.” She began to think trustfully of Israel’s God. Such were the workings of sorrow in her heart.

III. AN illustration of the great drawings between the Saviour and the soul that needs him. There is something mysterious here. It is not by accident that great mercy and misery meet. What is the secret of that journey to Tyre and Sidon. I suppose the Saviour felt some magnetic need pulling upon His heart, claiming the help of His pity and power. She was fifty miles away; the road was mountainous; in all the journey there and back He cures no other affliction and preaches no sermon; His sole purpose was to minister to this single sufferer. The prophetic soul knows when its Lord is nigh.

IV. The serene result that is reached. She learned the power of prayer. The disciples were changed; educated for their missionary work; they see how rich a thing a human heart is. She came asking a mercy for herself, and went away carrying it to others. (R. Glover.)

The woman of Canaan

I. The great faith of this woman is to be traced in her humble confession.

1. She confesses her misery when imploring the mercy of Christ.

2. She confesses her weakness when imploring the help of Christ.

3. She confesses her unworthiness by admitting the mission of Christ.

II. The great faith of this woman is to be traced in her fervent prayer.

1. Mark her recognition of the character of Christ.

2. Her confidence in the power of Christ,

3. Her earnestness in seeking the aid of Christ.

III. The great faith of this woman is to be discovered in her determined perseverance.

1. Her faith overcame the difficulty of obtaining u personal interview with Christ.

2. It overcame the singularly apparent coldness of Christ.

3. It overcame the limitation of the usual ministrations of Christ. (J. Wonnacott.)

The disciples sending away the Canaanite woman

Amongst the causes which keep souls at a distance from Jesus, we must count the attitude of the disciples of Jesus as one of the most powerful. To the Master we must go; not to the disciples. Let us first dispel all misunderstandings. When I declare that we must look to the Master, not to the disciples, I do not forget that the apostles were enlightened by special revelations and were called to found the Church. I do not oppose their teaching to that of the Master; there is no contradiction between them. But when we leave the apostolic age the situation changes. The Church is placed before Christ. But now let us descend to the sphere of the individual conscience. To lead to Jesus! What a privilege and glory. Fidelity of testimony is necessary to this mission. Some are brought to Christ by words, some by indirect influences, others by a love that nothing wearies. But it is possible to put souls away from Jesus Christ. Between them and Christ there have been our sins, pride, etc.

1. Let us remove the hypocrites; to make of their duplicity an arm against the gospel is an unworthy proceeding. You see their inconsistencies; are you sure you do not exaggerate them? Have you weighed all that Christian faith produces of excellent works? Granting that your complaints are well founded: in what way can they justify your unbelief? They could only do so if you had the fairness to seek their cause in the gospel itself. But van contrast the two. Is it not rather the fidelity that offends you, rather than the faults of Christians?

2. A word to you who believe:

1. Judge yourself as you are seeking what is lacking in others. Saved by grace, shall we not exercise mercy?

2. Let us learn to see in our brethren along with the evil that distresses us, the Rood that we have misunderstood until now.

3. Raise your look to the Master, there van will find peace and certainty. (E. Bersier, D. D.)

The woman of Canaan

I. “this poor woman’s unremitting obstinacy, it may so call it, in prayers. See the power of persevering prayer. They may seem for a while unanswered; they may not seem to work any alteration in our secret hearts.

II. The power of intercession. It is our duty to pray for others.

III. That this poor woman’s reiterated prayers are by our Lord called faith. Great is the faith that prays without ceasing. The sphere of common duty is the sphere also of secret spiritual growth.

IV. Regard again this poor woman thus singled out in all the heathen world to receive the only cure, as a type of the Church of God. The Church, like her, has many sons and daughters grievously vexed with the evil spirit. They are brought to Christ in prayer. (G. Moberly, D. C. L.)

Great faith

How singularly and beautifully appreciative Jesus always was of anything, that was good. His words show accuracy of observation and calculation.

I. There are many striking features in the character of this woman. Her motherly care, energy, humility, pleading; but Christ selected only one. Faith the root of all, Some think we make too much of faith, and place it out of its proper proportion.

II. The elements which went to make the “great faith.” Sorrow seems to have been, if not the cradle, yet the school of her faith. She comes and makes her petition as faith always ought, leaving details with God. The test to which she was put was exceedingly severe. (J. Vaughan, M,A.)

Help from he, heaven

“Lord, help me.” This prayer is suitable-

I. For those who are seeking salvation.

II. For a soul under spiritual darkness.

III. For the believer amidst worldly perplexities.

IV. For the Christian labourer.

V. For the dying saint. (A. O.)

The faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman

I. The extraordinary character of her faith.

1. It was based on the most limited knowledge.

2. It conquered natural prejudice in herself, and the fear of its influence in others.

II. Why Christ so severely tested it.

1. His first object was to expose and rebuke the intense bigotry of the Jews around Him.

2. He wished to draw out and exhibit the full strength of her faith.

Lessons:

1. Christ’s mercy and mission extend to all, however vile and outcast they may be.

2. The true way to derive good from Him is by faith, rather than by knowledge or acts of worship.

3. An encouragement to the utmost tenacity and desperation of faith.

4. An illustration of the way in which appearances may deceive us. God may seem to repulse us, but never does so actually. (Congregational Pulpit.)

This woman of Caanan teaches us to pray

A double miracle

1. Of Faith.

2. Of Healing. Thrice did Christ commend “ great faith,” and in each case outside the fold of Israel. In this case the wonder is not that the woman had great faith, but that she had faith at all. Her faith was great because-

I.

II. Learn from this that when God delays a boon, He does not necessarily deny it. (J. H. Burn, B. D.)

Under this story there is the touch of nature which binds us all together. Let us learn from it-

1. Perseverance. Few things can be reached by a single stride. All success is the outcome of previous patience; the finest pictures result from multitudinous touches of the brush. Let us keep our faces to the light, and the persevering desire shall at length be gratified.

2. Faith. This is a far larger thing than can be clothed in any form, and the most tenacious profession does not imply that we have that vivid apprehension of the living God which makes us really trust in and rest on Him. Have you faith as well as a creed? Are you daily trusting in the living God amidst all your wants, and sorrows, and sins?

3. Toleration. We are often inclined to look with insular exclusiveness or half-disdainful curiosity on such non-Christians as we come in contact with. Let us remember that Christ took the children’s bread and cast it to dogs. With such an example before us, we dare not disclaim any as too degraded to share with us the “ one flock and one shepherd.” (Harry Jones, M. A.)

Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat, etc.

The woman’s remark is admirable and delightful. It is full indeed of true theology and real philosophy. She apprehended clearly

A woman’s master-stroke

Was not this a master-stroke? She snares Christ in His own words. (Luther.)

An incident like this

Dean Plumptre gives the following story from the Talmud. “There was a famine in the land, and stores of corn were placed under the care of Rabbi Jehudah the Holy, to be distributed only to those who were skilled in the knowledge of the law. And, behold, a man came, Jonathan, the son of Amram, and clamorously asked for his portion. The Rabbi asked him whether he knew the condition, and had fulfilled it, and then the suppliant changed his tone and said, ‘Nay, but feed me as a dog is fed, who eats of the crumbs of the feast,’ and the Rabbi hearkened to his words, and gave him of the corn.”

Asking for crumbs

Laurence Justinian first Patriarch of Venice, resembled this woman in the prayer he offered when at the point of death. “I dare not ask for a seat among the happy spirits who behold the Holy Trinity. Nevertheless, Thy creature asks for some portion of the crumbs of Thy most holy table. It shall be more than enough for me, O, how much mere than enough! If Thou wilt not refuse some little place to this Thy poor servant beneath the feet of the least of Thine elect.”

The, coasts of Tyre and Sidon

This narrative records a visit of Jesus to a region which lay beyond the borders of the Jewish land. It did not lie at any great distance; it was within a day’s ride of Capernaum, and it could be seen from hill-tops just behind Nazareth; yet it was an alien country, and that notable strip of the Mediterranean shore on which Tyre and Sidon were situated had never belonged to the Jewish people. The coast of Tyre and Sidon was fringed by an almost continuous line of buildings; quays, warehouses, and private residences dotted the whole shore-line, and it was therefore no retired spot, but one which swarmed with a large and busy population, with ships sailing on the face of the waters, and the fishermen plying their trade within sight of the shore. The scene was very unlike those which were most associated with our Lord’s presence. He was here surrounded by abundant tokens of vigorous maritime and naval life. Instead of shepherds, sowers, cornfields, scribes, and Pharisees, there were warehouses, docks, ship-building yards, and sailors, amongst which He moved when He departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. (Harry Jones, M. A.)

Spread of truth to foreign lands

Captain Cook found in the South Seas some uninhabited islands, waving with the fruits and flowers peculiar to Europe. No human hand had planted the seeds in that soil. How, then, were they there? A boy in one of our valleys is amusing himself with seeds. A few of them fall from his hand into the tiny stream at his cottage door: they are carried down to the river, which floats them out to sea. They are drifted about for thousands of miles, and at last cast upon the shore of a South Sea island. A bird picks them up, and flies to its nest; but, scared by a hawk, lets them drop. They are covered with the leaves of the forest till spring calls them forth. By and by the wind shakes out the ripe seed, and carries it abroad. Again it falls into the kindly bosom of the earth, and again spring draws it forth. Thus, we may suppose, the deserted island is soon clothed with an European harvest. And thus the seed of God’s Word is often scattered, we cannot tell how. (J. Wells.)

Grievously vexed with a devil

(demoniacal possession):-It is agreed on by all sober interpreters of Scripture that, at this period of the world, God permitted evil spirits to take possession of, and to afflict, individuals to an extent that He did not before and has not since permitted;

Silence

Silence is not refusal. The reasons for Christ’s silence at this time were:

1. In order that by exercising her faith He might strengthen and deepen it.

2. That He might manifest it to others, and so give her as an example to those who stood by, as well as to future generations.

3. That He might not offer an additional stumbling-block to the Jews, to whom the calling-in of the Gentiles was an abomination. (W. Denton.)

Not because He was unwilling to speak, but because there are occasions on which silence is more eloquent and stirring to the thought than speech. Not infrequently silence is golden, while speech is “silvern;” and this was one such occasion. (J. Morison, D. D.)

The lost sheep of the house of Israel

It was necessary that there should be some limits to our Lord’s personal ministry; and it was wise that these limits should be fixed at the circumference of the circle of Israel. To have spread out His ministry farther, during the brief period of His terrestrial career, would simply have been to have thinned out and weakened His influence. What might have been gained extensively would have been lost intensively. It was of primary moment that He should make sure of a foothold, on which He might plant His moral machinery for moving the world. That foothold He did secure in the house of Israel, the household of Israel, the family of Israel; for the whole nation was but a developed family circle. (J. Morison, D. D.)

Moral persistence

To sink under the burden argueth weakness, but it is strength of faith to wrestle through it. We read of Pherecides, a Grecian, in a naval fight between his nation and Xerxes, that he held a boat in which the Persians were fighting, first with his right arm; when that was cut off, with his left; when that was cut off, with his teeth; and would not let go his holdfast but with his life. (T. Manton.)

The use of delay

Some old writer thus quaintly explains the case. “Christ’s love is wise. There is an art in His strange delays, which make us love-sick. We cheapen what is easily got, and under-rate anything that is at our elbow; but delays heighten and raise the market value of Christ’s blessings. He wishes to make our faith stronger, and His trials are for the triumph of our faith. He did as we do when we hold toys dangling before our children, that we may make them desire and enjoy them more. He acts as we do with musicians at the door; for when they please us, we do not give them their penny at once, that we may hear their music longer.” (J. Wells.)

The kindness of refusals

Monica, the mother of Augustine, prayed that her godless boy might not go to Rome, for she feared that Rome would be his ruin. God did not grant that request, because He had something better in store for her. Augustine went to Rome, and was converted there. (J. Wells.)

Stern truths

This was the most cutting of all-telling her in plain terms that she had no more right to get what she asked, than the dogs have to get the children’s bread; and also intimating very plainly that she was no better than a dog. Still she was not discouraged: even this did not put her off. If she had not possessed great faith, how would she have acted? Just as many at the present day do when they hear a plain sermon (as they call it); when they hear in plain words what the Bible says of human nature; they don’t like that; they can’t be so very bad as all that; they don’t approve of what that preacher says at all, and so they go to some other place where they will hear more palatable language about the kindness of man-his good nature, generosity, noblemindedness, and so forth; but they who are of the truth will not listen to this, for they know it to be a lie, and the children of the truth can take no pleasure in a lie. People think it is very bad to hear themselves called “ great sinners; “ they think very strangely of a man if he tells them they are poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked; but, I suppose, if they heard the term “ dog” applied to them as Christ applied it to this woman here, they would be up in arms at once, openly scout at so unwarrantable an affront, and take good care never to go near that preacher again. So did not this woman; she had faith-strong faith; she acknowledges the aptness of the illustration, and humbly accepts Christ’s estimate of her as the right one. (Bishop Gregg.)

The dogs

There was some reason lying at the base of the designation. The heathens around were, in the mass, exceedingly unclean and ferocious: barking too, incessantly, at the true God and true godliness. But our Lord, in this case, refers not to the wild, fierce, filthy dogs, belonging to nobody, that prowl about Oriental cities; but to little pet dogs, in which children are interested, and with which they play. Most probably there might be one or more of them, within sight, in the company of some children. (J. Morison, D. D.)

Great thoughts of Christ

The Syro-Phoenician woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking great thoughts of Christ. The Master had talked about the children’s bread. “Now,” argued she, “since Thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that Thou art a generous housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on Thy table. There will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because the dogs are fed.” She thought Him one who kept so good a table that all she needed would only be a crumb in comparison. Yet remember what she wanted was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, “It is nothing for him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give.” This is the royal road to comfort. Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Perseverance of faith

An unbelieving heart may have some flash of spirit and resolution, but it wants free mettle, and will be sure to jade in a long journey. Faith will throw in the net of prayer again and again, as long as God commands and the promise encourageth. The greyhound hunts by sight, and when he cannot see his game he gives over running; but the true hound by scent, he hunts over hedge and ditch; though he sees not the hare, he pursues all the day long. Thus an unbelieving heart may be drawn out upon some visible probabilities and sensible hopes of a coming mercy to pray and exercise a little faith, but when these are out of sight, his heart fails him; but faith keeps the scent of the promise, and gives not over the chase. (Salter.)

Faith gives prevalency to prayer.

In the several precedents of praying saints upon Scripture record you may see how the spirit of prayer ebbed and flowed, fell and rose, as their faith was up and dawn … This made the woman of Canaan so invincibly importunate; let Christ frown and chide, deny and rebuke her, she yet makes her approaches nearer and nearer, gathering arguments from His very denials, as if a soldier should shoot his enemy’s bullets back upon him again; and Christ tells us what kept up her spirit undaunted-“O woman, great is thy faith.” (Gurnall.)

Children’s bread given to dogs

1. When her case was come to such a point, she heard of the Lord Jesus; and what she heard she acted upon. They told her that He was a great Healer of the sick, and able to cast out devils. She was not content with that information, but she set to work at once to try its value.

2. This woman was most desperately resolved. She had made up her mind, I believe, that she would never go back to the place from whence she came till she had received the blessing.

3. I may not leave this picture without observing that this woman triumphantly endured a trial very common among seeking souls. Here is a woman who conquered Christ; let us go by her rule and we will conquer Christ too by His own grace.

I. In the first place, observe that she admits the accusation brought against her. Jesus called her a dog, and she meekly said, “Truth. Lord.” Never play into the devil’s hands by excusing sinners in their sins. The woman in this case, if it had been a sound way of getting comfort, would have argued, “.No, Lord, I am not a dog; I may not be all I ought to be, but I am not a dog at any rate; I am a human being. Thou speakest too sharply; good Master, do not be unjust.” Instead of that she admits the whole. This showed that she was in a right state of mind, since she admitted in its blackest, heaviest meaning whatever the Saviour might choose to say against her. By night, the glow-worm is bright like a star, and rotten touchwood glistens like molten gold; by the light of day the glow-worm is a miserable insect, and the rotten wood is decay, and nothing more. So with us; until the light comes into us we count ourselves good, but when heaven’s light shines our heart is discovered to be rottenness, corruption, and decay. Do not whisper in the mourner’s ear that it is not so, and do not delude yourself into the belief that it is not so.

II. But notice, in the second place, see adheres to Christ notwithstanding. Did you notice the force of what she said? “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from”-where? “From their Master’s table.”

III. Furthermore, the woman’s great master weapon, the needle gun which she used in her battle, was this, she had learned the art of getting comfort out of her miseries. Jesus called her a dog. “Yes,” said she, “but then dogs get the crumbs.” She could see a silver lining to the black cloud. If I deserved anything there would be the less room for mercy, for something would be due to me as a matter of justice, but as I am a sheer mass of undeservingness, there is room for the Lord to reveal the aboundings of His grace. There is no room for a man to be generous amongst yonder splendid mansions in Belgravia. Suppose a man had thousands of pounds in his pocket, and desired to give it away in charity, he would be terribly hampered amid princely palaces. If he were to knock at the doors of those great houses, and say he wanted an opportunity of being charitable, powdered footmen would slam the door in his face, and tell him to be gone with his impudence. But come along with me; let us wander down the mews, all among the dunghills, and get away into back alleys, where crowds of ragged children are playing amid filth and squalor, where all the people are miserably poor, and where cholera is festering. Now, sir, down with your money-bags; here is plenty of room for your charity; now you may put both your hands into your pocket, and not fear that anybody will refuse you. You may spend your money right and left now with ease and satisfaction. When the God of mercy comes down to distribute mercy, He cannot give it to those who do not want it; but you need forgiveness, for you are full of sin, and you are just the person likely to receive it. “Ah!” saith one, “I am so sick at heart; I cannot believe, I cannot pray.” If I saw the doctor’s brougham driving along at a great rate through the streets, I should be sure that he was not coming to my house, for I do not require him; but if I had to guess where he was going, I should conclude that he was hastening to some sick or dying person. The Lord Jesus is the Physician of souls. Do try now, thus to find hope in the very hopelessness of thy condition, in whatever aspect that hopelessness may come to thee. The Bible says that thou art dead in sin, conclude then that there is space for Jesus to come, since He is the Resurrection and the Life. Your ruin is your argument for mercy; your poverty is your plea for heavenly alms; and your need is your motive for heavenly goodness. Go as you are, and let your miseries plead for you.

IV. Let me, in the fourth place, notice the way in which the woman gained comfort. She thought great thoughts of Christ. It was a very great thing to her-but she had a high esteem of Christ. She said, “It is nothing to Him-it is but a crumb for Christ to give.”

V. And so you see, in the last place, she won the victory. She had, first of all, overcome herself. She had conquered in another fight before she wrestled with the Saviour-and that with her own soul. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The little dogs

I. The mouth of faith can never be closed.

1. It cannot be closed on account of the closed ear and mouth of Christ.

2. Not by the conduct of the disciples.

3. Not by exclusive doctrine which appeared to confine the blessing to a favoured few.

4. Not by a sense of admitted unworthiness.

5. -Not by the darkest and most depressing influences.

II. Faith never disputes with the Lord.

1. Faith assents to all the Lord says-“Truth, Lord.”

2. It worships.

3. She did not suggest that any alteration should be made for her.

III. Faith argues.

1. She argued from her hopeful position-“I am a dog, but Thou hast come all the way to Sidon,-I am under Thy table.”

2. Her next plea was her encouraging relationship-“Master’s table.”

3. She pleads her association with the children.

4. She pleads the abundance of the provision

5. She looked at things from Christ’s point of view.

IV. Faith wins her suit.

1. Her faith won a commendation for itself.

2. She gained her desire.

This woman is a lesson to all who imagine themselves outside the pale of salvation; an example to all whose efforts after salvation have been apparently repulsed; a lesson to every intercessor. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Our Lord had a very quick eye for spying faith

If the jewel was lying in the mire His eye caught its glitter, if there was a choice ear of wheat among the thorns He failed not to perceive it. Faith has a strong attraction for the Lord Jesus; at the sight of it “the king is held in the galleries” and cries “thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.” The Lord Jesus was charmed with the fair jewel of this woman’s faith, and watching it and delighting in it He resolved to turn it round and set it in other lights, that the various facets of this priceless diamond might each one flash its brilliance and delight His soul. Therefore He tried her faith by His silence, and by His discouraging replies that He might see its strength; but He was all the while delighting in it, and secretly sustaining it, and when He had sufficiently tried it, He brought it forth as gold, and set His own royal mark upon it in these memorable words, “O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” (C. H. Spurgeon)

The elements of prevailing prayer

1. Sincerity.

2. Humility.

3. Importunity.

4. Faith. (J. B. Jeter, D. D.)

The greatness of a woman’s faith

1. It was exercised by a woman.

2. It was a mother’s faith.

3. It had an aim.

4. It disregarded apparent partiality.

5. It was not discouraged by apparent delay.

6. It was devoid of selfishness.

7. It gathered strength from its exercise.

8. It won. (B. J. Hoadley)
.

The trial and triumph of faith

Thee parts of the miracle are-

I. The place where it was wrought.

II. The parties on whom.

III. The impulsive cause.

IV. The miracle itself, wrought by the woman’s faith: in which we have-

1. Christ’s heightening of her faith.

2. The granting of her desire.

3. The measure of Christ’s bounty-“As thou wilt.”

4. The healing of her daughter. (S. Rutherford.)

“She crieth after us.”

1. Christ’s love is liberal, but yet it must be sued.

2. Christ’s love is wise. He holdeth us knocking till our desire be love-sick for Him.

3. His love must not only lead the heart, but also draw. Violence in love is most taking.

Christ looking beyond His temporary limits

Christ doth but draw aside a lap of the curtain of separation, and look through to one believing heathen: the King openeth one little window, and holdeth out His face, in one glimpse, to the woman of Canaan. (S. Rutherford.)

Grace working on unpromising material

Christ, then, can make and frame a fair heaven out of an ugly hell and out of the knottiest timber He can make vessels of mercy, for service in the high palace of glory. (S. Rutherford.)

Prayer strengthened by adversity

Also, the prayers of the saints in prosperity are but summer prayers, slow, lazy, and alas! too formal. In trouble, they rain out prayers, or cast them out in co-natural violence, as a fountain doth cast out waters. (S. Rutherford.)

Determination in prayer

Grace, grace now is the only oil to our wheels. Christ hath taken the castle, both in-works and out-works, when He hath taken the will, the proudest enemy that Christ hath out of hell. (S. Rutherford.)

A right knowledge of satanic torments will lead to Christ for relief

It were good we knew our own misery: the man resolveth a prisoner has a sweet life, who loveth his own chains, because made of gold, and hateth them not because chains; and falleth to paint the walls of his dungeon, and to put up hangings in his prison, and will but over-gild with gold his iron fetters. Oh! are we not in love with our own dungeon of sin? And do we not bear a kind love to our father, the devil? We bring in provision for the flesh, and nourish the old man, as old as since Adam first sinned. Alas ‘. we never saw our father in the face: we love the devil, as the devil fallen in sin; but we see him not as a devil, but only under the embroideries of golden and silken temptations; we sow to the flesh; we bring in our crop to the devil, but we know not our landlord; and because sense and flesh are nearer to us than God, we desire more the liberties of state, free commerce, and peace with the king, than Christ’s liberties, the power and purity of the gospel, that we may negotiate with Heaven and have peace with God. (S. Rutherford.)

Good to be near Christ

The other thing observable is that it is good to be near the place where Christ is. It was an advantage, that the woman dwelt upon the borders of the land where Christ was. It is good for the poor to be a neigh-hour beside the rich; and for the thirsty to take up house, and dwell at the fountain; and for the sick to border with the physician. Oh I love the ground that Christ walketh on. To be born in Sion is an honour, “Because there the Lord dwelleth” (Psalms 87:6.) It is a blessing to hear and see Christ (Matthew 13:16). Christ knoweth them well whom He chooseth: grace is a rare piece of the choice and the flower of the love of heaven: there be many common stones; not many pearls, not many diamonds and sapphires. (S. Rutherford.)

Christ hears prayer even if He does not answer

It is said, He answered her not a word: but it is not said, He beard not one word: these two differ much. Christ often heareth when He doth not answer; His not answering is an answer, and speaks thus, Pray on, go on, and cry; for the Lord holdeth His door fast bolted, not to keep out, but that you may knock and knock. Prayer is to God, worship; to us, often, it is but a servant upon mere necessity sent on a business. The father will cause his child say over again, what he once heard him say, because he delighteth to hear him speak. (S. Rutherford.)

Faith strengthened by importunate prayer

Wrestling addeth strength to arms and body; praying, and praying again, strengtheneth faith; customary running lengtheneth the breath. (S. Rutherford.)

Tears have a tongue

(Psalms 6:8):-Tears have a tongue, and grammar, and language, that our Father knoweth. Babes have no prayers for the breast, but, weeping; the mother can read hunger in weeping. (S. Rutherford.)

Prayer deeper than words

(2 Peter 3:10):-Love and longing for Christ have eagle’s wings; and love flieth, when words do but creep as a snail.

Fervour in prayer

Though God hear prayer, only as prayer offered in Christ, not because rely fervent; yet fervour is a heavenly ingredient in prayer. An arrow drawn with full strength hath a speedier issue; therefore, the prayers of the saints are expressed by crying in Scripture (Psalms 22:2). (S. Rutherford)

Utilizing rich spiritual influences

It shall be useful then for the saints, when the Spirit cometh in his stirrings and impetuous acts, to co-operate with him, and to answer his wind-blowing. It is good to hoist up sail, and make out, when a fair wind and a strong tide calleth. Sometimes grace maketh the heart as a hot iron: it is good then to smite with the hammer. When your spirit is docile, and there cometh a gale of Christ’s sweet west wind, and rusheth in with a warmness of heart, in a praying disposition to retire to a corner, and pour out the soul before the Lord: as we are to take Christ at His word, so are we to take Christ’s Spirit at His work. (S. Rutherford.)

“My daughter”

Children.

1. So to hold, as we are willingly to let go; love them as creatures only: often the child is the mother’s daughter, and the mother’s god.

2. We are to strive to have them freed from under the power of the devil, as this woman doth; for they come into the world fuel for hell. Parents make more account, all their life, to make gold, rather than grace, their children’s patrimony and legacy.

3. Look at them as May flowers; as born to come and appear for a space in the element of death: so they sport, laugh, run, eat, drink, and glisten like comets in the air, or flying meteors in the sphere of the clouds, and often go down to the grave before their parents.

4. Beware of selfishness, for children are ourself, and their sins white and innocent sins to us. Eli honoured his sons more than God, and God put a mark of wrath on his house. (S. Rutherford.)

The mutual attractions between Jesus and the soul

These drawings, brethren, of Jesus and the souls of men so mutual, so strong, how wonderful are they ‘. Men are drawn to Him not because preachers beguile them, not because one generation misleads another, they are drawn by laws of gravitation; and Kepler’s laws hold good of souls as well as they do of planets. Christ simply attracts in the proportion to His mass, and it is His massive being, His wealth of help, His power of pity, His infinite wisdom, His store of tenderness, that has in all ages, and will in all ages, attract the hearts of men. And the hearts of men attract Him. (R. Glover.)

All things possible to faith

As we “ will,” so faith obtains the good. “It can be done!” says faith. “It shall be done!” says the will. And it is done I The whole history of the world, in all its divisions, may be quoted in proof of this axiom. Space can be travelled by steam, says faith. Man has a will that it should be so. Space says, “Be it unto thee as thou wilt: “and it is done. The Atlantic Ocean can be crossed in seven days, says faith. The will of man says, It shall be so; and it is so. Thought can be conveyed as quickly a thousand miles as one. It is willed to be so, and it is done. The Alps can be tunnelled for a railway, says faith. I will it to be done says the engineer; and the Alps say, “Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” Thus all things apparently impossible to reason become palpable facts to faith in its persistent exercises. (J. Bate.)

Christ cannot be hid

1. In His cause and truth.

2. Believers cannot hide a good or bad condition in the soul.

3. The joy of Christ’s presence cannot be hid.

4. Grace in a sincere professor, and Christ, cannot be hid. (S. Rutherford.)

“Hearing of Him.” What had she heard?

I. That Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel and could and was willing to heal

1. Hearing of Christ drew her to Him.

2. It is good to border with Christ, and to be near hand to Him.

II. None can come to Christ except they hear a good report of Him.

III. Many open their ears to Christ, but they hear not; they want a spiritual faculty of observing.

IV. Many put Christ in an ear without a bottom, as leaking and running out vessels. (S. Rutherford.)

Her prayer

1. The manner of it-“She cried.”

2. The party to whom she prayeth-“O Lord, Thou Son of David.”

3. The petition-“Have mercy upon me.”

4. The reason-“For my daughter,” etc. (S. Rutherford.)

The woman of Canaan

1. The naturalness of faith (trust).

2. The connection of faith and works. She believed (trusted) to have help from Christ, and this led her to use the means. So faith in everything must move to works to realize its end.

3. The wisdom of using an opportunity. Jesus went into the coast of Tyre and Sidon. The woman knew of it, and she used the opportunity for the good of her daughter.

4. The force of sympathy. As a mother, she felt for her daughter. Hence her action. If we feel for others-sinners, heathens, afflicted ones, etc.,-we are moved to help them, or seek help for them, according to our feelings.

5. The dignity of humiliation. How grand this woman appears as she says, “Truth, Lord,” etc.

6. The power of persistence in a good cause and with a good object. The woman would have no denial.

7. The nature of fervent, powerful prayer. She came to Him and worshipped Him, and said, “Lord, help me.”

8. The victory of faith-“O woman,” etc. It was no grief, but a joy, to Christ to yield the victory to this woman’s faith. (J. Bate.)


Verse 32

Matthew 15:32; Matthew 15:39

And Jesus said unto them, How many loaves have ye?

The miracle of the loaves and fishes; or, continuity and economy

Want in men moves Christ’s whole nature. His help leaves no injury. Here generosity and frugality meet. Observe in this miracle two principles.

I. Continuity. That which is comes out of that which has been.

II. Frugality. There is no waste.

1. These two principles are exhibited in nature. Mere spontaneity nature disowns. The field says, “Give me seed, and I will give you back harvest.” Nature disowns waste, all things are utilized.

2. These principles are found in history. God does not fling loaves from the sky; they are growths. Not one life is lost.

3. These principles are seen in the moral world. There is no dropping of truths than of great men from heaven. Hence out of the few loaves grow the feast. He who holds in sincerity a little truth has the promise of all.

In applying the truth of the text we learn-

1. To hope. The less will become more.

2. The effect of this law upon character. Your future must come out of your past.

3. A lesson in helping others. We help by bringing the better out of some good in men. How many loaves have you? One has a feeble resolution; that, with the blessing of God, may be sufficient. (P. Brooks, D. D.)

The miraculous feeding of four thousand

I. The features by which this miracle was distinguished.

1. It was a miracle of mercy.

2. Its publicity is another feature worthy of notice.

3. The scale on which it was wrought was most extensive.

4. It was the result of no previous arrangement, but was done in order to meet a pressing emergency.

5. The consciousness He evinced that His resources were adequate to the occasion.

II. The lessons which this miracle enforces.

1. Reliance.

2. Gratitude.

3. Charity.

4. Economy. (Expository Outlines.)

The necessities of man and the all-sufficiency of Christ

I. That circumstances are continually reminding man of his necessitous condition. Man can go but a short way into life’s wilderness without feeling that his is a craving nature. Life-long dependence should teach life-long humility.

II. That man’s necessitous condition is fully met by Christ’s sufficiency. Christ knows the necessities of our human constitution. In Christ dwells all fulness. Man needs pardon, purity, freedom, peace.

III. That if man will not avail himself of Christ’s sufficiency he will be chargeable with the ruin of his own soul. These men did not refuse to eat because they could not understand the mystery by which the bread was multiplied, Refuse to eat and they die. (J. Parker.)


Verse 39

Matthew 15:32; Matthew 15:39

And Jesus said unto them, How many loaves have ye?

The miracle of the loaves and fishes; or, continuity and economy

Want in men moves Christ’s whole nature. His help leaves no injury. Here generosity and frugality meet. Observe in this miracle two principles.

I. Continuity. That which is comes out of that which has been.

II. Frugality. There is no waste.

1. These two principles are exhibited in nature. Mere spontaneity nature disowns. The field says, “Give me seed, and I will give you back harvest.” Nature disowns waste, all things are utilized.

2. These principles are found in history. God does not fling loaves from the sky; they are growths. Not one life is lost.

3. These principles are seen in the moral world. There is no dropping of truths than of great men from heaven. Hence out of the few loaves grow the feast. He who holds in sincerity a little truth has the promise of all.

In applying the truth of the text we learn-

1. To hope. The less will become more.

2. The effect of this law upon character. Your future must come out of your past.

3. A lesson in helping others. We help by bringing the better out of some good in men. How many loaves have you? One has a feeble resolution; that, with the blessing of God, may be sufficient. (P. Brooks, D. D.)

The miraculous feeding of four thousand

I. The features by which this miracle was distinguished.

1. It was a miracle of mercy.

2. Its publicity is another feature worthy of notice.

3. The scale on which it was wrought was most extensive.

4. It was the result of no previous arrangement, but was done in order to meet a pressing emergency.

5. The consciousness He evinced that His resources were adequate to the occasion.

II. The lessons which this miracle enforces.

1. Reliance.

2. Gratitude.

3. Charity.

4. Economy. (Expository Outlines.)

The necessities of man and the all-sufficiency of Christ

I. That circumstances are continually reminding man of his necessitous condition. Man can go but a short way into life’s wilderness without feeling that his is a craving nature. Life-long dependence should teach life-long humility.

II. That man’s necessitous condition is fully met by Christ’s sufficiency. Christ knows the necessities of our human constitution. In Christ dwells all fulness. Man needs pardon, purity, freedom, peace.

III. That if man will not avail himself of Christ’s sufficiency he will be chargeable with the ruin of his own soul. These men did not refuse to eat because they could not understand the mystery by which the bread was multiplied, Refuse to eat and they die. (J. Parker.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 15:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/matthew-15.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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