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Matthew 15:21-28

Great Faith

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • February 17, 2019

What comes to mind when you hear the word “great”? The word “great” is used in a variety of ways which reveals different facets of its definition. When it comes to faith, what constitutes great faith? In Matthew 15, we will discover what God recognizes as great when it comes to our faith.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Great Faith

Matthew 15:21-28


1.What comes to mind when you hear the word “great”?

2.The word “great” is used in a variety of ways which reveals different facets of its definition.

3.When it comes to faith, what constitutes great faith?

4.Tonight, we will discover what God recognizes as great when it comes to our faith.

Matthew 15:21-28


1.Matthew 15:1 tells us that a delegation of scribes and Pharisees was sent from Jerusalem to check out Jesus.

2. Their goal was to find a flaw in His life or ministry so that they may “knock Him down a few pegs”, or better yet accuse Him of heresy so that the people would reject Him.

3.They followed Jesus and His disciples, watching their every move, ready to pronounce their condemning judgment of Him. Then they got their chance! Armed with their accusation, they sprung their question on Jesus. They had discovered that His disciples were not washing their hands according to the “tradition of the elders” before they ate bread.

4.In response, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their failure to obey God’s Word because they had elevated the “tradition of the elders” above the Law.

5.Then Jesus declared that a person is not defiled by what goes into their mouth, but by what comes out of it. (18)

6. After this heated exchange, Jesus withdrew from that region and headed west then north along the Mediterranean Sea to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Today this region is called southern Lebanon.

7.It was the first and only time Jesus left Israel. By doing so, He was also sending a message that visiting a Gentile region did not defile a man either!

9.In a region that was 35 to 60 miles from Galilee, an amazing exchange took place between Jesus and a Canaanite woman which has direct application for us and our relationships with God.

I.Great Faith Must Have a Great God (21-23)

  • A. W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
  • First, to have great faith, God must be the object of our faith!
  • Now you can have faith in people, products, or institutions but don’t be surprised when you realize that your faith was foolishly misplaced.
  • Second, to have great faith, our faith must be founded on a biblical view of God!
  • Do you believe that God is holy, loving, gracious, merciful, faithful, true, just, eternal, unchanging, all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present? If not, you don’t have the God of the Bible because your view of God is too small!
  • So, if we have a limited view of God, then we will have a limited or small faith.
  • Conversely, if we have a great view of God, then we have the potential for a great faith.

A. Great faith knows Jesus is our only help (22)

1.I’m sure this unnamed, Canaanite woman had turned to the pagan priests of Tyre and Sidon for help. She probably spared no expense to get her little girl the help that she needed, deliverance from demonic possession!

2.But to her dismay, she discovered that her faith in the Canaanite gods was misplaced; they didn’t help!

3.She had tried everything. She was hopeless. Who could deliver her little girl from the cruel demons that tortured her?

APPL – Haven’t we done the same thing?

  • We turn to our friends. We turn to self-books. We even turn to Google looking for answers.
  • All the while, God is patiently waiting for us tire of running into these dead-ends that lead us nowhere.
  • Turn to Jesus, for our Great God and Savior is our only hope for help!

4.One day she heard about this great man from Galilee, a Jew. He healed the blind, deaf, lame, and mute. He cured the sick and diseased. He cleansed lepers. He even fed 15,000 people with only five loaves and two fish.

5.But her ears perked up when she heard that He delivered people possessed by demons!

6.Suddenly faith filled her heart. She had hope. Sure, this man was a Jew, the Canaanite’s enemy. But she would not let national tensions or personal prejudice get in the way.

7.Her mind was made up. No one and nothing would get in her way. She gave her daughter a goodbye kiss, told her everything would be okay, and then set out to find Jesus.

8.But according to Mark 7, Jesus was in seclusion to get rest and to minister to His apostles.

Mark 7:24, And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.

9.Once she located where Jesus was staying, she walked into the home and cried out to Jesus. Her words reveal her faith and her recognition of Jesus’ greatness (22):

a.“Have mercy on me” – “Mercy” is God’s unmerited favor to the miserable.

b.“O Lord” – A recognition of His authority.

c.“Son of David” – A recognition of Jesus as Messiah, the long-awaited King of kings.

d.“my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed” – A recognition that He was her only hope for help!

Transition – The Canaanite mom had come to the right place and had made the right request. She held her breath, waiting to hear the words that would confirm she had rightly placed her hope in Him. But all she heard was silence.

B. Great faith is patient when God is silent (23) 

1.Why is great faith patient when God is silent?

2.Because silence is not the same as “No!”

3.Or to put it another way, delay is not the same as denial!

4.One of the most important lessons I’ve learned when it comes to faith is that “it’s not over till it’s over.” In other words, silence from heaven is not the same as God saying, “No.”

5.Jesus did not rebuke her and say, “Can’t you see I am resting? Now, get out of here! Some people!”

6.Rather, I believe Jesus was drawing out her faith.

7.Then the apostles chimed in and personalized what was going on. They asked Jesus to send her away because she was “shouting” at them when in fact she was only crying out to Jesus.

APPL – But faith is patient even when God is silent, and people are not! There are examples in the Bible of people who patiently waited for God even though the people around them attempted to discourage their faith.

  • Job waited for God’s answer while his wife told him to “curse God and die”!

Job 2:9-10, Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “… Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

  • A blind man named Bartimaeus was sitting alongside the road when he heard that Jesus was coming by and he cried out saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd told him to be quiet, but he refused to give up.

Mark 10:48, Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

  • Great faith is patient, knowing that God is executing His plan at the right time in the right way, even when it seems like He is silent!

Psalm 40:1-2, I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

II. Great Faith is Persistent (23b-28)

  • When the apostles told Jesus to “Send her away”, it appears that they were asking Jesus to give her what she wanted; to deliver her daughter.
  • But Jesus reminded them of the purpose for His coming, what God was accomplishing through Him.
  • Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”(24)
  • This explains Jesus’ silence. The Messianic promises have an order of development.
  • The Canaanite woman’s response once again reveals great faith which has application for us too.

A.   Great faith submits to God’s will (23b-27)

1.Jesus’ reply to the disciples is confirmed in several places in the Bible.

2.God chose Israel, not because they deserved it or because they were significant nation.

3.Actually, the opposite was true. Israel was insignificant and did nothing to deserve God’s favor.

4.Rather, God, being rich in mercy and love, chose Israel. He gave His word to their forefathers and faithfully kept His promise.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8, The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

5.But it is important to also note that God’s love extends to the whole world through Israel because of Jesus.

John 4:22, You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

John 10:16, I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

6.And now, God is using the Gentiles to bring the Jews back to God, after they rejected their Messiah.

Romans 11:11, I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

7.After Jesus said that He was sent only to the “lost sheep of Israel”, the Canaanite woman bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Lord, help me!”

APPL – One of the themes that we see in the Bible is that prayers don’t have to be complicated to be effective. It’s been said, that often “heart prayers are short prayers.”

Matthew 6:7, And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

8.When she said, “Lord, help me”, Jesus answered that it is “not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (26)

9.At first glance, this seems very rude or cold hearted at best.

a.Her daughter was demon-possessed.

b.Jesus gave her the “silent treatment” when she cried for mercy.

c.His disciples tried to kick her out of the house.

d.Then He told the disciples He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel; so, it appears she was excluded from receiving His mercy.

e.And now Jesus called her a dog!

10.The word for “dog” is not the word one would use to describe a dirty mongrel that rummages through the garbage in search of food.

a.Actually, it is the word used for a little puppy, a house dog, the family pet!

b.So, Jesus was not calling her “Cujo”, but something more like “Benji”!

11.Mark 7 adds some helpful insights.

Mark 7:27, Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.

12.Notice, that Jesus didn’t say the puppies would not get fed, but that the children must be fed first! He implied the dogs would be fed!

13.Jesus carefully chose the right words to create the right word picture to draw out her faith.

14.And that’s exactly what happened. The Canaanite woman got the word picture and responded with faith. She took hold of what Jesus said.

a.She recognized the dog was the family pet.

b.Therefore, she, a Gentile, had hope that she would be blessed by Messiah.

Matthew 15:27, But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

APPL – Great faith submits to God’s will!

  • She did not argue with Jesus or become offended.
  • She did not turn from Jesus and walk away.
  • She took hold of Jesus words and kept on asking, knocking, and seeking!

B. Great faith is rewarded (28)

1.You can almost see a smile come across the face of Jesus.

2.He looked her in the eyes and said, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” (28)

3.We’re told that her daughter was healed that very moment.

4.Jesus did not need to go to her home to deliver her daughter for Jesus is the Lord of all and nothing is too difficult for Him!

APPL – Isn’t it interesting that there were only two people that Jesus commended for their faith. Were they Jews? No, they were Gentiles.

  • The first was a Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his suffering servant back at home. (Matthew 8:5-13)
  • The second was this Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed daughter.
  • Both were rewarded for their faith.

Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.\


APPL – How great is your faith? To answer this question, you will first need to answer another question, how great is your God?

Psalm 46:10, Be still, and know that I am God. (NIV)

Matthew 15:21-28     NASB

21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us." 24 But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" 26 And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."27 But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." 28 Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.

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