Not much happens until something becomes urgent. A doctor, a financial planner, or a preacher can tell us something until they are blue in the face. But it won’t mean much without a sense of urgency that some sort of change must occur – that the way things currently exist isn’t going to cut it any longer. When it comes to the Christian life, law and duty can only take us so far – we need the gospel of grace.
Today’s Gospel lesson has a Gentile Canaanite woman (who is about as far from God as one can get in the ancient world) coming to Jesus with a keen sense of urgency. She is not concerned about appearances or masking her pain; she cares about seeing her daughter healed of her terrible suffering from demonization. The woman sees in Jesus the answer to her daughter’s problem. She begged Jesus to act. But Jesus puts her off.
A superficial reading of this story might lead us to think that Jesus is either aloof or elitist. But I think a better way of looking at Christ’s response of not immediately healing the daughter is looking at the episode through the lenses of patience and perseverance. God is not some coin machine that we can drop in a dollar and get immediate change. The Godhead is not some system to figure out in order to work the angles to get what we want. Here’s what I believe the real point of the story is for us: The woman had to go hard after Jesus, to keep going after him, and to exercise her faith muscle to its fullest extent.
The woman looked for grace, kept going after God’s mercy, and was honored for her persistent faith. We don’t need to write an essay to God in prayer about why he should answer us and try and convince him of our righteous cause – we just need to seek the mercy of God in Christ with determination. Begging isn’t pretty and it isn’t comfortable. But being poor in spirit is the only posture that Jesus is really concerned about recognizing.
Gracious God, I beg you to bring healing, spiritual health, and relational wholeness to your church everywhere so that the name of Jesus is exalted in the world. Amen.