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The Incredible Story of a Nameless Mother
(Matthew 15:22, NLT)
“A Gentile woman…came to him, pleading,
‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!
For my daughter is possessed by a demon
that torments her severely.’”
A second grade teacher had just finished teaching her class a lesson on magnets. She explained what magnets are, what they do, and why they work—in short, she taught her students a basic lesson on magnetism. Then she decided to have a brief question and answer session. So she said, “My name starts with the letter “M” and I pick up things. What am I?” A little boy’s hand shot up and without hesitation he said, “You’re a mother!”
I hope when this sermon is finished we will understand that moms do more than just “pick up things!” In fact King Solomon said women are incredibly valuable. He wrote, “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:15, NIV).
II. A Nameless Mother
Matthew began this story by introducing us to this nameless mom. He wrote, “Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely’” (Matthew 15:21-22, NLT). She was a Gentile woman, more specifically a Canaanite, who came from the country north of Palestine—a country hostile to the Jews. She was presumably married and she had at least one child. That’s all we know about her. We don’t even know her name!
We do know, however, that in her single encounter with Jesus, He said to her, “Your faith is great” (Matthew 15:28b, NLT). That statement consisted of only 4 words, but they were enough to get her story recorded in Scripture to provide future generations with some great lessons on motherhood!
III. A Mom with Faith
Jesus was an expert on the subject of faith. He was constantly looking for it and commending it. However, He didn’t always find it in His disciples. He never said to Peter, James, John, or even Paul, “Your faith is great” (Matthew 15:28b, NLT), but He said it to this nameless Canaanite mom.
So what are the characteristics of this nameless mom that motivated Jesus to say to her, “Your faith is great?” I see three outstanding characteristics demonstrated by this mom in her story: She crossed huge barriers; she was persistent; and she claimed no personal rights. Let’s briefly examine each of these.
She crossed huge barriers. The first barrier she crossed was a gender barrier. Matthew described her as “A Gentile woman who lived there” (Matthew 15:22a, NLT). She hadn’t done anything to create this barrier. Nevertheless, it was there.
In her day it was unheard of for a woman to get into the immediate presence of a rabbi—let alone have a personal interview with him. But that is exactly what she did. Her singular request during the interview was, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely” (Matthew 15:22b, NLT). She was evidently willing to do whatever it took to cross any barrier to get the help her daughter needed. She was a determined woman.
The next barrier she crossed was a racial barrier. Matthew described her as a “Gentile”—particularly a Canaanite when he wrote, “A Gentile woman who lived there” (Matthew 15:22a, NLT). Not only was she a woman, but she was a “Gentile” woman! She was non-Jewish—a Gentile. In fact, she was a Canaanite—a race of people who had been hated by the Israelis for centuries. But she didn’t let the fact that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and she was a Canaanite woman stop her.
The third barrier she crossed was a religious barrier. The Jews’ religion did not permit them to have any direct contact with Gentiles. If they did they were considered spiritually and even physically “unclean.”
If a devout Jew touched any animal that the Law of Moses identified as “unclean,” then he would be “unclean” until he went through a ritual of purification that evening; and while he was in an “unclean” condition he could not enter the Temple for worship.
Among the animals that were considered “unclean” were “dogs.” That explains why Jesus answered the woman’s request for healing for her daughter by saying, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel…It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:24b…26b, NLT).
He was setting His disciples up to learn a wonderful spiritual lesson, and to emphasize the importance of the moment He used silence. Matthew wrote, “Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word” (Matthew 15:23a, NLT).
He knew that at about this time during His interview with this Canaanite woman they would be wondering, “Why is He wasting His time with this Canaanite “dog?” And He was right! Matthew described their visible impatience with this Canaanite woman’s interruption of their afternoon when he wrote, “His disciples urged him to send her away. ‘Tell her to go away,’ they said. ‘She is bothering us with all her begging’” (Matthew 15:23b, NLT).
She was persistent. Jesus was silent and His disciples rejected her, yet she persisted. Matthew wrote, “She came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” (Matthew 15:25, NLT).
Jesus offered what He knew His disciples would perceive as a legitimate religious objection to her request for help. He said, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26, NLT). Yet, she persisted. She answered, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:27, NLT). In essence she was saying that He was right, but she also asserted that there was more than enough of God’s grace to take care of His people and her need.
She was willing to take the “scraps” of grace that was left, and she was sure that even the “scraps” would be sufficient to meet her daughter’s need. She was determined to persist until her daughter’s need was met. What a mom!
She claimed no personal rights. When Jesus remained silent and “gave her no reply, not even a word” after hearing her request for help, she didn’t claim the right to be answered. When the disciples turned to Jesus and “urged him to send her away,” she didn’t claim the right to be accepted. When Jesus indirectly referred to this Canaanite mom and her daughter as “dogs,” she didn’t claim the right to be treated with respect. She simply continued “pleading” for help. Notice what Matthew wrote, “A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely’…[then when she didn’t seem to be moving any closer to getting the help she wanted for her daughter]…she came and worshiped him, pleading again, ‘Lord, help me!’” (Matthew 15:22…25, NLT). She didn’t claim any personal rights. She simply pleaded with Jesus on her daughter’s behalf!
Because this nameless Canaanite mom was a woman of great faith, she was able to get for her daughter what she needed most at that point—freedom from demon possession! Matthew described this very touching scene when he wrote, “‘Dear woman,’ Jesus said to her, ‘your faith is great. Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was instantly healed” (Matthew 15:28, NLT). Moms if you want to know what your kids need most and get it for them when they most need it, you must be the kind of woman about whom Jesus would say, “Your faith is great!”
There are two things you can do to develop great faith: first, get a steady intake of God’s Word. Paul wrote, “Faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17, NLT).
Next, get under God-ordained authority. Jesus said a Roman centurion had “great faith,” because he was “a man under authority.” Matthew wrote, “I myself am a man under authority… I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:9a…10b, NIV).
The important spiritual lesson Jesus wanted His disciples to learn from the story of this nameless Canaanite mom is this: “People with ‘great faith’ can cross any barrier in their pursuit of Jesus! Paul echoed this truth when he wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
The Value of a “Mother’s Teaching”
(I Kings 2:19, NIV)
“When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah,
the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne.
He had a throne brought for the king's mother,
and she sat down at his right hand.”
King Solomon’s older half-brother, Adonijah, attempted to use, Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to convince Solomon to consent to a plan Adonijah had devised to steal the throne from Solomon. King Solomon’s mother didn’t realize what Adoniah was attempting to do, so “Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah” (I Kings 2:19a, NIV). King Solomon immediately saw through Adonijah’s deadly plot and had him executed, but during his conversation with his mother, the King honored her in simple and practical ways.
God made King Solomon the wisest, wealthiest, and most powerful man in the world during his lifetime. Ezra described Solomon’s wisdom when he wrote, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore… Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom” (I Kings5:29…34, NIV).
One of the things Solomon was motivated to do by his great wisdom was to honor his mother. His mother was Bathsheba. She had married his father David under very ugly circumstances—very displeasing to God. But she was his mother, and he honored her, in spite of her past! Ezra recorded a sample of the honor Solomon gave his mother when he wrote, “When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king's mother, and she sat down at his right hand” (I Kings2:19, NIV).
Notice how Solomon honored his mother—he stood when she entered his presence; he bowed down before her; and he called for a throne to be set beside his throne so she could be seated during their conversation. Wise men honor their mothers because God has commanded it to be done. In fact, the fifth of the Ten Commandments is, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12a, NIV).
II. Five Lessons from Solomon
In the first Proverb, Solomon wrote three verses that give us five lessons of wisdom that we need to learn in order to honor our mothers the way God wants us to honor them. He wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:7-9, NIV). Let’s examine each of these intensely practical lessons drawn from the wisdom of Solomon.
The family is God’s idea. Solomon took for granted that the people of his day understood that the family consisted of a father, a mother, and children living together in a unique relationship of responsibility. He wrote, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8, NIV).
Unfortunately in our culture, we can’t take for granted that people understand this basic truth. We are living in a generation when there is a satanic conspiracy to change God’s definition of the family. As politically incorrect as it may be, I am constrained by my conscience to declare that the family is not an arbitrary, loosely defined, evolutionary development. The family is ordained by God in creation. Moses wrote, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis1:27-28a, NJKV).
God’s definition of the family begins with one man and one woman living together in a covenant relationship for the purpose of producing children. The question that our culture needs answered is, “How is this ‘multiplying’ and ‘earth-filling’ supposed to happen?” Moses gave us God’s answer when he wrote, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV). God's definition of the family is one man and one woman “united” to each other as husband and wife and becoming “one flesh” in sexual union for the production of children.
You see, the family truly is God’s idea, and it is for His glory. Solomon assumed that fact to be true when he wrote the first Proverb!
The family is a school. God has designed the family to be the primary school for instructing and teaching children how He wants them to live in this world and be prepared to enter the next world. Solomon wrote, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8, NIV). The father is an instructor and the mother is a teacher. Therefore the family is a school.
Children have to be taught just about everything—from the most basic skills of walking and talking and eating, to the more complex moral issues of courtesy and gratitude and respect and self-control and faith in Christ. The family is God's educational institution for this huge undertaking—teaching the next generation how to live in this world and be ready to successfully enter the next world. That’s why King Solomon wrote to the parents of his day, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).
“The fear of the Lord” should be every family’s motto. The basis for all of the father’s instruction and the mother’s teaching should be “the fear of the Lord.” Solomon wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV). The Hebrew word translated “fear” literally means “to reverence, or to highly esteem.”
The family isn't just a place where children learn to hold spoons, and walk on two feet, and say ‘please,’ and tie shoes, and read, and look both ways before crossing the street, and cut grass, and put on makeup, and drive a car. The family is where all of this and more is accomplished because we reverence and honor the Lord. That’s why Solomon wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7a, NIV). Life is not all about us…it’s all about Him! It’s all about “The fear of the Lord.”
Both parents have family responsibilities. Preparing children to live as God wants them to live in the world and preparing them to enter the next world is a huge undertaking. Therefore, God has assigned specific responsibilities to each parent. Solomon wrote, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8, NIV). The mother’s responsibility is “teaching,” which is translated from a Hebrew word which emphasizes the verbal communication of facts and concepts. The father’s responsibility is “instruction,” which is translated from a Hebrew word which emphasizes the practical, hands-on application of concepts.
Solomon did not say, "Fathers instruct, and mothers change diapers." He did not say, "Fathers work on the job all day, so they have no responsibility to teach their children." Nor did he say, "Mothers work at the office all day, so they can turn the responsibility of teaching their children over to a care-giver." It says fathers “instruct,” and mothers “teach.” They both have family responsibilities. That’s why the very best environment for raising children is in an intact, two-parent family—and that’s why we should do everything possible to preserve marriages!
Children are to submit to parental authority. Sons and daughters are to submit to their father’s instruction and their mother’s teaching. Solomon wrote, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8, NIV). These two commands warn against two common forms of rebellion. One occurs when a child is at home; and the other occurs when he is away from home. If he is at home, rebellion is often expressed by not listening when his father speaks. So Solomon wrote, "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction" (Proverbs 1:8a, NIV). If he is away from home, rebellion is often expressed by forsaking what his mother has taught him. So Solomon wrote, "Do not forsake your mother's teaching" (Proverbs 1:8b, NIV).
Young people desperately need to know how beneficial their “father’s instruction” and their “mother’s teaching” really is. Solomon explained it like this, “They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:9, NIV).
Wearing a “garland” on your head meant that you had just won first place in an athletic competition. It indicated the fact that you were a winner! In other words, if you want to be a winner, you must “Listen…to your father’s instruction” and refuse to “forsake your mother’s teaching.”
Wearing a gold “chain” around your neck meant that you had been honored by the King. When one of his subjects had pleased the king to such a degree that the king wanted to honor him, it was customary for the king to place a gold chain around his neck. In other words, if you want to be honored by King Jesus, you must “Listen…to your father’s instruction” and refuse to “forsake your mother’s teaching.”
Sunday Service Times
Morning Worship: 10:00 a.m.
M*PACT Kidz: 10:00 a.m.
Helping Hands: 6:00 p.m.
ONE WAY Youth: 6:00 p.m.