by The Rev. Mark Buetow
So this woman has a demon-possessed daughter. She's in a bad way. But Jesus is in the 'hood so she tracks Him down. "Lord, Son of David! Have mercy on me! My daughter is demon possessed." Here's a Gentile woman of all things to whom the Lord owes nothing, begging Him for help. He ignores her. Then the disciples get all upset. "Lord, send her away! She's stalking you! She won't go away! Make her be quiet!" Jesus says He hasn't come except for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That means the Jews. She's not a Jew. So He ignored her. Then when she wouldn't go away He says He's not here to help her. But she still hangs on Him. "Lord, help me!" Finally, He tells her straight: "You can't take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs!" Whoa! Did you hear that? Jesus just called her a dog!
And what does she say? "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their Lord's table." What does she mean, "Yes, Lord?" She should be offended! She should file a lawsuit! She should tell it to the news media. She should go on the Today show and start trashing Jesus on her blog and take Him off her MySpace Friends List. She should quit his church and go find one where the pastor is nice and the people are friendly. She should take out her keys and scratch up the disciples trucks! She ought to kick sand on Jesus and slap Him and turn around and walk away! But none of that is what faith does. Faith's word is "Amen." "True dat!" "Yes, yes, it shall be so." Jesus speaks and whatever He says, to that faith says, "Amen. That's for me." Faith says, "Yes, Jesus, I'm a dog. But even dogs get crumbs. And your crumbs will save my daughter." Faith doesn't listen to the world or to rude disciples who are mad that you're sitting in their pew. Faith clings to Jesus. Listens to Jesus. Learns from Jesus. Confesses what Jesus says. Speaks back the promises of God. Faith says that no matter what is true about me, even if I'm a dog, Jesus is still Jesus, the one who has power over the devil and can save my daughter.
Dear baptized children of God: What do you look to to see how it's going with the Lord? To your life? To your success? To your accomplishments? To your wisdom? To whatever bad things happen to you? What do you trust in when it seems that even God Himself is paying no attention to you, or worse, flat out tells you He's not there for you? To what do you cling when things are going well? What do you hang on to when everything turns sour and is a mess and the devil, the world and your sinful nature and even the Lord, it seems, are against you? For this Gentile woman, there was nothing but Jesus. She could not be sure of herself. She could only be sure of Jesus. With Jesus, there would be a way out, salvation. Without Him, she was doomed and her daughter with her. It was Jesus or nothing.
That's for you to believe, too, dear Christians, as this woman did. To know and believe that it's all Jesus or nothing at all. When the devil and the world and your sinful nature are on you like flies on a pile of poo, and even God Himself seems to want nothing to do with you, then you cling to Jesus like this woman did. Cling to Jesus who doesn't come to condemn you but to save you. Cling to the Jesus who carries your sins to the cross and suffers for them, and dies for them. Cling to the holy washing given to you in the baptismal waters of Christ's font, in which God makes you His child. Cling to the words of absolution which declare that you are no orphan but forgiven and that you stand "not guilty" before God. Cling to the body and blood of Jesus which is way more than crumbs falling from the table, but the rich feast that means you ARE a child of Israel, a child of God, one of Jesus' own dear ones. Cling to Jesus and His gifts and there will be no doubt that your faith is a great faith, because your Jesus is a great Jesus.
The word that faith says is "Amen." Sometimes it might sound like a "bow wow" or a woof!" But no matter what, that "Amen" means "Yes, Lord." And that's a "Yes, Lord" spoken to Jesus who casts our demons, takes away sins, and turns even sinful dogs into God's own dear children. "Woof! Woof!" Sorry, I mean, "Amen!"
Pastor Mark Buetow serves Bethel Lutheran Church in Du Quoin, IL. He also serves as the Higher Things Internet Services Executive and taught as a Plenary Speaker at the Amen conferences.