Faith that Overcomes Obstacles Matthew 15:21-28
By Rev. S. V. Nathan
‘In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition. Life is full of hurdles, obstacles and barriers, but with faith in God and determination, we can overcome and make the stumbling block a stepping stone.’
In Matthew 15:21-28, we can see a Canaanite woman who had many obstacles in her life but her firm and courageous faith in Christ gave her success and deliverance to her daughter. Let us see them below.
1. The Obstacles from within : (vs 21-22a)
From this passage we are told that the woman was a Canaanite which meant she was a Gentile. This Canaanite woman was vulnerable because of her nationality, since Canaanites were considered to be enemies of the Jews. It was highly unlikely for almost any Jew to follow the Lord into Gentile territory, because Jews avoided Gentiles. The Jews considered the Gentiles to be unclean on the basis of their pagan practices in their culture. She came from a race that was cursed by God and her daughter was vexed by the devil. Thus, socially, she was a woman, theologically outside of God’s household and physiologically she was depressed and distressed by her twelve year old daughter’s condition. Even so, we see that the personal obstacles within her did not deter her from her Saviour.
2. The Obstacles from without (vs 23-26):
We need to note the immediate response to her prayer. Firstly Jesus never replied her immediately; he was silent in his response to her prayer (vs 23a). Secondly, the disciples saw this woman as a nuisance, and they wanted to be rid of her (vs 23b). Theirs was a very cold response to her need. Thirdly, on the surface, Jesus seemed to be insulting her when He referred to this woman as a dog (vs 26). To call someone a dog was/is an insult. Hence, the circumstantial obstacles from outside – though thoroughly negative -did not deter her from her mission.
3. The Steps to overcome the obstacles:
Jesus Christ commended her faith as a great faith (vs 28). Though she had many obstacles and barriers in her way to Jesus, her great faith made her daughter whole.
a. Great Faith is Placed in Jesus:
The woman learned helplessness because she didn’t have power over the demon who possessed her daughter and there was no one in this world who could heal her. The demon was killing her poor daughter and she needed a Saviour at that moment (vs 22a). She also knew and had great faith in Jesus, which made her to rush to Jesus for help.
b. Great Faith demonstrated Persistence:
When she realised her helplessness, she did not hesitate to rush to the Saviour of the world and sincerely prays to the Lord Jesus (vs 22b). Though she was distracted by the response, she persisted in worshipping Him and seeking His help for her daughter. (vs 26).
c. Great Faith is Characterized by worship:
When she was refused, she worshipped. Anyone can offer thanksgiving, but worship can only come from people of faith.
d. Great Faith is HUMBLE:
When Jesus called her a dog, she was neither discouraged nor did she doubt His power. Rather humbly, she submitted herself to Christ’s sovereign will as a dog, begging her master for the crumbs “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (vs 27).
e. Great Faith is revealed by our attitude in our prayer:
Even our persistence and our worship do not earn God’s favour. They are simply a product of the faith that is at work in us. But right attitude and upright heart receives the blessings and healing. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. Mat 15:28
Finally, the beauty of this story is that the woman never doubted or gave up on God. Thus she overcame her obstacles by her great faith; she turned stumbling blocks to stepping stones in order to receive deliverance for her daughter.
The secret of God’s blessings is to lie low at the feet of Jesus from whom all blessings flow. When we come to the Lord’s Supper, we come to his table not just to feed on “crumbs” but to partake in his body and blood. We should then come in an attitude of worship, humility; and expectation; we should come asking for mercy – tell him your needs and receive in faith every blessing of heaven not just for yourself but for your children and your children’s children. Let me encourage everyone of you to follow this woman of great faith in your life; you can also overcome your obstacles with your firm faith in Him. May God bless you abundantly. Amen.