Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account (Mark 7:24-36) the seventh chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Sometimes Jesus just doesn’t play fair. The object of “hide and seek” is to remain hidden, to not be found. But Jesus doesn’t play by the rules. He speaks. His speaking is like the “you can’t find me” from a little child hiding in the closet. His speaking gives Him away. Aha! I know where He is! I know where to find Him. I can hear with my ears the savior’s voice, the Word of the Lord.
So it’s no wonder that Jesus, though departing to the region of Tyre and Sidon, though making His way into the house, cannot be hidden. He speaks. His speaking reveals His presence. And His presence is meant for our good, for your good, even for the good of a little girl who can’t hear Him not because she’s deaf, but because she’s possessed.
But that little girl’s mother can hear. Even though she’s a gentile, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, even though she’s not a descendant of Abraham, not Jewish, she’s heard about Jesus. She’s heard what He does. She’s heard the things He says. His word has given her hope, hope that Jesus is for Jew and Gentile, hope that Jesus is for her and her daughter, hope that He can overcome the devil, and all his works and all his ways.
So this mom, like any good parent, seeks out Jesus for her child. She comes to Him because of His Word, because of His Works. She’s not concerned about what her friends will say. She’s not worried about the neighbors will speak of her. She is going to ask Jesus. She’s going to cry unto the Lord. She’s going to God for the good of her little girl, because her little girl is being held prisoner, captive to the forces of evil, even the prince of darkness. Nothing will stop this mother. Nothing will get in her way of seeing Jesus. No disciple will hinder her. No apostle will chase her away, not even the Lord Himself. She will not take “No” for an answer.
And “No” is exactly what she gets. “No” from the disciples. “No” from the apostles. And even a “no” from Jesus. “It’s not right to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs.” Jesus says “no” and then calls her a “dog.” Jesus is harsh. He is honest. Some might even say He was hostile. And what do you do when the Lord is harsh, honest and hostile with you? What do you do the Lord says “no”? What do you do when things don’t go as planned? What do you do when obstacle after obstacle get in your way of coming to Jesus, coming to Church, to Sunday School, to bible Study? What do you do when the road isn’t smooth and the way is crooked? What do you do when the Lord calls you a dog and says others must be first, others must come before you?
The temptation is to walk away, to cast your heads down toward the ground and think: “God doesn’t care me.” The Lord is for others He isn’t for me, or you, or the ones we love. Or, we are tempted to harden our hearts and turn away in disgust. We get offended. We get our feelings hurt. We get our heart broken. We get angry. We lose hope. And a hopeless situation becomes even worse. “If Jesus won’t help, if Jesus says “no”, then to whom shall we go?”
We must resist such temptations beloved and not give way to unbelief and doubt and despair. Jesus is this mother’s only hope for her daughter. Jesus is the deaf person’s only hope for restoration. Jesus is your only hope for eternal life, forgiveness of sins and salvation. He’s your only hope in this world. And though He may seem to be harsh – His heart is moved toward your and for you.
This woman receives His Word, even His harsh, honest and hostile word and she suffers the consequences of His Word. And this is for her good. This is for your good. For having received such words from the Lord, this mother is humbled. She is not crying to the Lord for her own benefit. She’s not trying to earn His favor, sweet talk Him into helping. She’s not there to flatter His ego or manipulate Him into giving what she needs. The mother knows the Word. Knowing the Word she knows that harsh words are not the last words. She waits on the Lord. She suffers His judgment. She accepts the condemnation of the Law and uses the Word to trap Him. “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table.”
You see, all she wants is a crumb for her daughter. All she needs is little Word from the Savior, just a one little Word to fell the Devil. She presses Him for such a Word. And in her pressing, she repents. “Yes Lord, though I am a dog and unworthy to receive the children’s feast, grant me but a crumb.”
His great Delight To be trapped in His Word
Beloved, our Lord will not necessarily remove the obstacles from your path. He won’t make people be nice to you. He may even at times be a bit harsh as the Word of His Law accuses you of your sins. And we’ve all got plenty of those. But His first Word is never His last Word. He speaks to draw you near. You see, Jesus doesn’t play by the rules of this world. He makes the rules. He does the works. He speaks the Words. He is forever and always for you even when it might sound like He isn’t. Keep listening! Keep pressing on! Keep Him to His Word, for this is His most greatest delight – to be trapped in His own Word. For there you find Him. No more peekaboo Jesus. No more hide-n-seek. No more looking around, seeking after, hunting down. If you hear Him, listen and keep listening. If you hear Him, do not take offense, do not stumble, do not be scandalized but press on for the crumbs. Press on for more of His Word. Receiving His Word your receive Him.
Getting Jesus gets you paradise. Paradise is where we all want to be. Paradise is where we all want our children to be. Paradise is where Jesus wants you to be. Thus while enduring the pangs of death and suffering for the sins of the world, it was the voice of another – this time a thief – calling on the Name of the Lord. And those who call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” The thief, despite what he saw before him, despite the blood, the suffering the wood and the nails, despite his own condition and his own condemnation – would not be deterred from the Kingdom of God. He knew better. He knew Jesus. He knew Christ and Him Crucified for the sins of the world. He believed such a Christ was for him, a thief. To be sure, our Jesus is truly Christ for the world, and Christ crucified for all; for thieves, for demon possessed little girls, for single mothers, for heartbroken fathers, for young widows and orphans, for men with cancer and women with dementia, for tiny infants and crippled youth. Jesus is for sinners, broken sinners whose lives have been riddled with hurt and sorrow and suffering and hardship. Jesus is for the sick, the afflicted, the mourning, the poor, the hungry and the thirsty. Not only is Jesus for these and for you, but He is crucified, dead and buried for these and for you. He doesn’t play by the rules of this world. He suffers. He dies. He is hidden in death, buried in the grave, but He speaks! He is revealed. He is Risen. The Devil is undone. The grave is opened. Death is plundered. Christ is victor! And Hail to the Victor!
And so, trapped in His own words, the mother in our text has Jesus right where Jesus wants her to have Him. She’s got Him in His Word and she won’t let go. Thus the Word is given. The Word is released. “Go your way, the demon has gone out of your daughter.” With the Word given the daughter is set free. She who could not hear the Word receives the benefits of the Word. The Word works its wonders, not because we hear it, not because we believe it, but simply and solely because Jesus said it and His Word has power, power that cannot be stopped, cannot be stilled, cannot be ignored. Thus, Jesus gives the Word and immediately the devil is chased away. When Jesus gives the Word, immediately sins are forgiven. When Jesus gives the Word right away the old Adam is drowned and the New is raised up. At the Word of Jesus bread clothes His body and wine conceals His blood. Remember, Jesus doesn’t play by our rules. He hides Himself like a child playing hide-n-seek. “Here I am” He says, and we are to follow His voice, listen for His Truth, and lend our ears to His speech. And so we look to the Divine Service. We gaze upon the waters of Holy Baptism. We fix our ears upon the Words of Institution, we arrange our schedules to study the Bible, we make sure our Children hear and listen and grow and mature. Because in this broken and demonic world we live in, the Devil prowls about seeking someone to devour, anyone to feast on, especially your children.
Therefore beloved, let us bring our children to Jesus. Let us all who have been made children of God by Water and the Word gather round about Him and listen as He speaks His presence into our hearts. Let us train up our children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it. Let us lead by example, clinging to the Word and Works of the Savior ourselves, making the Lord not just a priority, but THE priority in our life. Let the Words of Jesus pour into ears and bring life to our hearts. Let us listen even when we are accused. Let us fix our attention despite the distractions. Let us plead for the crumbs if need be. For the crumbs of Christ are good, nourishing, and salvific. Such crumbs bear the Word of the Living God and give what they say: forgiveness, life, salvation, freedom from the Devil, the world and our own sinful nature. And let not the Word go unheeded. But take to heart both the Law and the Gospel of God and cling to the gospel! Hold Tight the Savior’s Word, in sickness and in sorrow, in wealth and in poverty, whether at the foot of the grave or the end of the bed, despite what you see and no matter the obstacles, even if He seems to be hiding, remember Jesus doesn’t play by the rules. Trap HIM in HIS WORD! This is His greatest delight and your surest salvation. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!