Dogs At The Table

Dogs at the Table

Daily Reading: (Matthew 15:25-28):

“The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

In this text Jesus is telling this woman to stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Because if you keep pretending to be someone else you won’t be able to receive the help you need most.

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”Jesus did not answer a word (Matthew 15:22-23).

Many people don’t understand why Jesus would ignore this woman who was in great need. Jesus’ response was purposeful and powerful and it produced the faith she needed to receive the salvation she sought.

So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

The Law says in Deuteronomy 7:2-3: “And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.”

So the disciples response is Law based and should come as no surprise but in the end, she is in the presence of grace and the voice of grace will deal completely differently with this Canaanite woman in need of help.

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment (Matthew 15:24-28).

The takeaway of the story of the Canaanite woman is for us to come as we are to the Lord with our need. Lean on His unfailing and unconditional love for you. You don’t have to pretend to be more than you are to receive the blessing you need from God. And you don’t have to pretend to be someone else to appear more deserving to receive from God. It is not the cleverness of our prayers or the accomplishments that we have made that gives us an audience with God. Simply come to God in all honesty with your need. Lean into Jesus to receive His unconditional love for you, come boldly because Jesus is our High Priest, and be ready to receive grace in our time of need.

A Canaanite woman who is desperately seeking healing for her demon-possessed daughter came to Jesus (see Matthew 15:22–28) the first part is great. The problem is in how she came to Jesus, this is where the train comes off the tracks. Knowing that He healed and did miracles among the Jews, she pretended to be a Jew, calling out, “O Lord, Son of David!” Only the Jews addressed Jesus as the “Son of David.”Yet this Canaanite woman used that term to appear as though she was also a Jew. She believed Jesus would refuse to heal her daughter because they were not Jews.

“Jesus did not answer her.” The purpose for His silence was to lead her to drop her pretense and cry out, “Lord, help me” (Matthew 15:23,25)! Only when her pretenses had melted away did she see the grace of God extended to her, that He is willing and wanting to help and heal her Canaanite daughter. Jesus is so good that what He actually did here is that He made a way for her to receive her miracle even though it was not yet time for the Gentiles to receive His blessings.

We have a cultural difference that Jesus capitalizes on, to the Jews at this time- dogs were dirty, unpleasant, beasts. The woman immersed in Greek culture gave her an appreciation of the positive qualities of dogs. Only a Gentile, perhaps only a Greek influenced one, could have spoken the memorable words about dogs eating the scraps under the table, for no Jew would have allowed dogs to be there. So, Jesus uses her own culture as an aid to lead her to the place to receive salvation for her daughter (Matthew 15:26-27).

This woman’s faith is incredible, because she sees something here, she sees grace. Look at the transformation, “even if I am a puppy and not a Jew, I am close enough to receive from the Master.” I know if I get close enough to Jesus, I could receive healing for my daughter because even puppies get to eat what falls from their masters’ table. When the Canaanite woman took her place by dropping the title “Son of David” and just leaned on Jesus’ compassion for her, her daughter was healed.

Come as you are to God your Father and lean on His grace. If He has delivered Jesus up for us, “how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Jesus does not want anyone to come to Him in falseness, pretending to be something they are not. He wants us to come as we are, in whatever our condition is. Only when we are honest with ourselves, He can come rescue us for “when we are weak, He is strong”.

Pigs and Pearls

Pigs and Pearls

Daily Reading: (Matthew 7:6):

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

To understand the meaning of these words of Jesus we have to look at the context to bring clarity to our understanding.

So, let’s look at verses 1-5 for some more context.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

The clear context leading into our verse is the statement not to judge others. What becomes confusing is the very next thing Jesus says would appear to have us make a judgment of others. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” What is important to know is that the mention of dogs and pigs throughout the Bible is used to speak of non-believers. This seems not only to be a complete contradiction to what we just saw in verses 1–5, it also seems to go against many other places where Jesus seems to be saying, “take the Gospel to everyone.” 

Imagine you have animals in your care, like pigs and dogs. You give them something which is very, very valuable, but it’s something they cannot digest. What Jesus is saying is, “don’t be surprised if they attack you. Don’t be surprised if they turn on you.”

The pig is expecting corn husks but in comes a pearl. Of course, the pearl has a value. It’s immeasurably more valuable than a corn husk, but the pig doesn’t have the ability to either perceive or assess that value.
What does this tells us? These animals are acting in accordance with their nature. Matthew 7:6 is about spiritual reality. What is a human being like without eternal life? A human being without eternal life looks at the holiness of God and says, “So what am I supposed to do with that?

That’s the difference between a human being with eternal life and a human being without. To have eternal life means you sense the awesome holiness of God and the sweet grace of Jesus Christ. You understand the astonishing death for us on the cross. You recognize the eternal value of the human soul, that God would give such a great price to rescue and redeem us. The dogs and the swine do not have the ability to take in spiritual truth so don’t be surprised if they attack you for it.  

In Matthew 7 Jesus is talking about human nature without eternal life. How do we move beyond being a dog or a pig, spiritually speaking? How does that happen? The answer comes with the pearl. The pearl is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It’s the good-news message of repentance, redemption, and restoration offered by God to all who will receive Christ.That’s the gospel of the kingdom. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).

The dog and the pig want to know, “does the pearl, does the Gospel of the Kingdom fill my belly? Does it make me popular? Does it build me a social media following? The message of the Gospel is that Jesus is all you need. He is your success. The beauty in the connection Matthew 7 has with Matthew 13 is the change in the way the man looks at the pearl compared to how the pig looks at it. The pig says, “Will the pearl enable me to get more of what I have?” However, the man gets rid of all he has to get the pearl.

Two utterly different approaches. The pig asks, “Is Jesus useful?” The man sees Jesus is beautiful. The pig tramples the pearl under foot, the man sells all he has because He perceives the value of the pearl. The man responds favorably to the Gospel.


Sparrows and Ravens

Sparrows and Ravens

Daily Reading: (Luke 12:6-7,24):

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

One of the most enjoyable activities for me is to watch birds come and eat out of a bird feeder. Taking care of God’s beautiful creation is part of what you and I were created to do and it can be so rewarding. As I was looking out at the bird feeder, the Holy Spirit reminded me that even in a difficult time in our life, God will care for me as He does even the birds.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

Sparrows were a very cheap bird to be bought in Israel. You could get for one penny two sparrows, while for two you could get five. What a deal!  Adam Clarke Commentary said: “yet even it, so valueless, was not forgotten of God.”

“Not forgotten by God,” the word forgotten (epilanthanomai) can mean to forget but an even richer definition of the word is not cared for. Worry stems from forgetting about, not being mindful of, or doubting God’s care for you (Luke 12:6). Another way to say it is when you receive God’s love, when you wrap yourself in it, the things that trouble you will leave (1 John 4:18). That is why the next verse, Jesus tells us to “fear not” (phobeō). You could have a phobia of a lot of things- but gaze out at the bird feeder at those tiny little birds getting their needs met and remember God has promised to do the same for you. A skeptic would say, “well you are the one caring for the needs of the little birds, what does God have to do with it?” Do you not think that God worked on my heart to be mindful of the birds? God gave me the mind to think of them, the resources to purchase the food, and my reward was the joy of seeing the birds be feed through the provision of what God has given to me, bird seed. As I view the birds being fed, I can think,” how much more valuable am I to God?” I used my resources to assist the birds because I believe in the promise that God will meet my needs. And I can use my resources to help others because I believe God’s supply doesn’t dry up.

Later in the same chapter we move to another bird, the ravens.

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds” (Luke 12:24)!

Maybe today as we consider the ravens and we consider the sparrows, believers and non-believers alike might see God’s care for them. For the believer their trust in God will grow and for the non-believer their restored relationship with God might begin. Consider the ravens how they don’t have to plan, they just go about their lives and know that what they need will be there.

So how does prayer fit in if God already knows you need something but you don’t seem to have it and now you are worried about it? This is an excellent question where the answer is directly in the text. “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Prayer will focus our hearts on the Kingdom (Luke 12:31). When we know that God knows what we need and has promised to supply it, we will use what we have for the Kingdom.

Remember the raven and the sparrow have little monetary value, yet God cares for them. How much more valuable are you to God? Have confidence that your loving Heavenly Father will care for your needs. This will free us from worry. As we put our minds on the Kingdom we are enabled to live lives of generosity, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven.