You People Are Dogs!

This is week two of the notes in my Bible study class. Week one is here.

 

We need to rediscover a faith that melts barriers. Check out Matthew 15:21-28, another tough saying of Jesus, quite disturbing, actually.

 

Some things look better on paper than they do in reality, take sushi for example. We say it’s for a sophisticated palate, food in its most natural state, but in the end it is the food itself that is the problem… it still tastes like raw fish and seaweed.

 

Christian unity may be another item on the looks-better-on-paper list. We champion it, talk about it, study it, intellectually ascend to the concept of it, yet Christian churches all across the country are divided by different issues of belief or practice or race or style of worship. Many are gathered cliques devoted to its own members.

 

If there was anyone on this planet who was open to relationships, it was Jesus. He associated with people that society called off-limits.

  • How would describe your racial biases and their sources?

The Church has only one mission… the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). He said to go (which really means “as you are going…) and He assumed that as His followers were going they would make disciples.

  • How do you view sharing the gospel as you go? What does that look like in your life?

The whole point of the gospel was to break down cultural barriers, and that’s the point of the story for today. We believe that we have a set of expectation on how Christians should act while they are on mission for God, but this story causes us to back up and say, “Did I read that right?” This response of Jesus seems to be intolerable (Matthew 15:25-26).

 

Those Kind of People 

There were obvious racial biases in the Bible, and we deceive ourselves if we believe that we don’t have a prejudice tendencies (due to cultural upbringing or personal experience with a small group of people).

 

In this region of Tyre and Sidon, in northwest Philistia, were OT symbols of paganism and godlessness. These poster children for God’s wrath and judgment were condemned by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

  • What do you know about typical Jewish opinion of non-Jews?
  • How do you think the disciples felt about this region?
  • What relationship between people groups in our culture reflects this sort of prejudice?

Beautiful Desperation 

There must have been something about this Gentile women that caused her to approach Jesus in the midst of such hostility, desperation.

  1. She demonstrated that she knew how to approach God, using the very Jewish title, “Son of David.” She was passionate, loud and kept it up, annoying the twelve.
  2. She may have been the ideal person for Jesus to help: she believed He could help, she properly approached Him, passionate about her situation… all the keys to getting a response from God.

How did Jesus respond? First He ignored her, which seemed to suit the twelve. She was wailing, a Gentile woman, a pagan, someone below them and unclean. Ignoring her did not work so Jesus made a subtle statement about her status (Matthew 15:24, Matthew 15:26). Remember that dogs were not the loveable pets like we have today. They were scavengers, filthy and dangerous. Imagine the insult.

 

Jesus is pleased with her response (Matthew 15:27), and He immediately grants her request.

  • What pleased Jesus in her response?
  • What did her words reveal about her faith?

Purity: Inside Out 

Just before this event, Jesus faced off with the Pharisees, over the issue of cleanliness (Matthew 15:2). They were pretty critical of Jesus ministry already and Jesus was quick to defend His friends, claiming that their omission didn’t have anything to do with real purity. Purity is an internal matter of the heart. So, it’s not about where you live, or your race. So Jesus explains purity in the most unclean place imaginable.

  • How do you define purity?
  • How do you differentiate between inner and outer purity?
  • What is the most unclean place you know?

The disciples were uncomfortable, they felt dirty, and this woman showed them what being clean is all about. The woman seems to play along (Matthew 15:27). Her expression of need is the ideal picture of purity. We need to change our picture of purity. We think we need to clean ourselves up and then come to Christ.  Jesus commends this woman’s moral perfection in knowing how much she needed Him. In this dirty place Jesus finds something clean.

 

Need of Him

She was desperate, not thinking about how this must have looked or about her motivation. Jesus saw the purity of her desperation, the thing the Pharisees and His disciples lacked. When we express our need for God it says something about God. Society frowns on being needy and asking for help, but we are to come to God with empty hands and allow Him to be the Provider.

  • In what ways do you feel comfortable (or not) talking about your own needs that drive you toward God?

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