Modern Mother’s Day was first observed in 1908 at the request of Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia. It was not the affair that it is today. Anna asked her Methodist pastor to hold a service in memory of the deceased mothers of their church. It happened to be the anniversary of the death of her own mother. Seven years later, 1914 by Presidential Proclamation, Woodrow Wilson set the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. By the way, Congress refused to make it a national holiday, with some witty congressman saying, “If we have a Mother’s Day, then eventually we’d have to have a Mother-in-law Day.” Mrs. Jarvis detested the eventual commercialization of the day – all the cards and gifts. She wanted it to be a day of thanksgiving to God for mothers, not thanksgiving to mothers for God or anything else. Anyway, you won’t find a reference to Mother’s Day in your King James Bible.
Never-the-less, I often like to take the opportunity afforded by this day to consider the women of the Bible. And today, let us learn from an incident in the life of this unnamed Canaanite mother. This woman received a very precious gift – unforgettable gift. It is unlikely that you ladies remember what gifts received ten years ago or even two years ago. Unless, of course, you got the same thing that you get every year. As far as I know, no one got keys to new car or tickets for a world cruise. But the woman of our text received one of the greatest gifts ever given. It didn’t come from her daughter or from the father of her daughter. It came from the Lord, taking us back in the direction of the original intent of Anna Jarvis. You could picture this gift as a huge chocolate bonbon. On the outside, her daughter was delivered from a most despicable demon. But in addition, I would like to think that young lady became a new creature in Christ Jesus It was a chocolate covered cherry of the finest quality. Can’t we interpret the last phrase of Matthew 15:28 to say the child was born again? “And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” She wasn’t just delivered from the demon who possessed here, but she was “made whole.” Whether or not she was actually regenerated, for the sake of our application, let’s assume so.
It is my prayer that every mother was exactly like the mother in these chapters. Our Saviour deserves to be glorified here today just as He was that day. And even if you are not a mother, most what I have to present to you could be applied to all of us. Let’s think about this mother in the light of our marvelous Saviour.
Notice that, despite her background, she knew who it was she was addressing.
There are several terms which Jesus, Matthew and Mark apply to this woman. She was a “Canaanite;” a descendent of the pre-Mosaic race who were condemned by the Lord. Socially, she was a Greek – a Gentile – as far Israel was concerned. And geographically or politically, she was a “Syrophenician” – a citizen of the foreign nation to northwest of Israel. As far as many Jewish Pharisees were concerned she was little better than a dog.
Separately, and then together, these things should remind us of ourselves. According to the Word of the Lord, who are we by nature and birth? We were born “without Christ, being aliens from commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” – Ephesians 2:12. “We were shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mothers conceive us.” Therefore “we are estranged from the womb; we go astray as soon we be born” – Psalm 58:3. As you think back on all the miracles of the recorded ministry of our Lord Jesus. Perhaps nobody had any more discouragement and difficulty in coming to Christ than this mother. Everything was against her – her race; her gender; her education; her family’s idolatry; her distance from Israel. The disciples tried to shield the Saviour from looking at her or even hearing her voice. Lord, “send her away away, for she crieth after us.” Even Christ Himself at first ignores her and then seems to push her away. “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”
But that importunate lady just keeps persevering; she will not be dissuaded. And when her race, religion and personal references are denounced, she agrees. “Who am I to make a request of the King of kings and Lord of lords? Do I have a single earthly endorsement that will make Him look in my direction? Can I claim a part in the Lord’s election of grace? No sir, not me.” But her eyes were not on herself, or even on her needy daughter, they were on the Saviour. This mother knew who she was in relation to Christ.
This is one of the problems Christianity faces in these last days. The doctrine of man’s depravity is not being preached in the churches of professing Christendom. And evolution tells kids they are the survivors of the previous generation’s fittest. We are one rung higher than our parents. Society suggests that we are all entitled – entitled to wealth, health, privilege and even eternal life. Despite our past and our sins, we are urged to boldly come to God as brothers and equals to Christ. This woman knew she had no right to approach the Lord at all, but her daughter’s need drove her on. When she did finally come close, she fell on her face and worshiped Him.
She was driven toward Christ by the need she had.
She wasn’t coming to the Son of God on behalf of herself, but for her daughter. She was a mother as truly as any woman ever has been a mother. When that baby girl was born the cord between her body and her mother’s was cut. But the cord between that mother’s heart and her little girl was still attached and it was as strong as ever. Christ Jesus recognizes that kind of love and attachment. It is not the most important thing to the Son of God, but it is not insignificant either.
This woman is heart-broken over a daughter that has gone bad. I don’t know whose sin opened the door to this girl’s demonism. I have studied Satanism and demonism; I have several books written by learned men. And I have to confess that I have never enjoyed my time in that kind of study. I have felt oppressed – spiritually oppressed, depressed – stressed. And I confess to not fully understanding the way Satan and his demons operate in hearts.
Some of the things I have read seem to indicate that parents can contribute to their children’s demonism. And at times it seems that an unsaved person can become possessed without seeking it. But for the most part, I would say that the demon possessed have invited their possession in some way. To sympathetically study or play with Satanism is to invite possession. Demonic board games and video games may be used by spirit beings to enter ignorant minds and hearts. Praying to Satan and seances may have lead to this girl’s demon possession. And even the use of hallucinogenic drugs can be the cause. The Greek word “pharmakeia” which gives us our modern words “pharmacy” and “pharmaceutical” is translated “sorcery” and “witchcraft” in the Bible. This woman could have invited Satan into her home and from there into her daughter. Or, more likely, it was entirely of the daughter. However it came, the problem was there, and there was nothing this mother could do about it now.
This woman most likely has lost nights of sleep worrying over her prodigal daughter. I don’t see how a woman can be a true mother without distress over a possessed and lost child. Or if that child is an agnostic, a cultist, a drunkard or an addict; or living like a whore. Mothers grieve over such things. The medical profession and its infinite varieties couldn’t help her; not single psychologist in world could produce a cure. There was and is only one answer to the spiritual needs of a demon or sin-possessed soul. So this alien lady has come to plead her case before the Son of David – the Son of God.
In other words, she knew where to find the answer to her problem.
Think about it, she was not a Jewess, nor is there any hint that she was proselyte. And “of Israel pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants and the giving of law, and the service of God and the promises; whose are the fathers and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” This woman probably had never seen one Jesus’ miracles, and probably never studied His prophecies. Her education was in idolatry, not in David, Isaiah and Moses. Hardly a single promise was given to her and those which were she wouldn’t have heard expounded by the chauvinistic Jews.
And yet she came to one she could easily call “Lord” – a term of nothing but high respect for some people. Somehow she had been told that this particular “Lord” could work spiritual miracles. Like another Canaanite, Rahab in Jericho, she had heard of Jehovah. And this Canaanite called him “the Son of David,” she heard that he might be the Jewish Messiah. By faith she knew more of Christ than the greatest teachers living down there in Jerusalem. Baal and Ashtoreth of the Sidonians couldn’t help her, but she had a mustard seed of faith in Christ.
Somehow by the grace God she knew how to have her needs met by the Lord.
This is what sets her apart from the crowds in both Israel and the rest of the world. This is what I want you to learn and see here this morning. First, she went to the place where Christ could be found. How it breaks my heart to see honest people looking for Christ in dishonest places. He cannot be found in churches which deny the literal interpretation of the Bible. He can’t be found in cults or churches filled with empty rites and ceremonies. He can be seen illustrated in things like baptism and communion. But bathing in water and drinking wine and eating wafers will not give sinners Christ. It is in the pages of this book where we find the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ said, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think he have eternal life and they are they
which speak of me.” The only church in which you will find the Lord, is one that teaches and preaches this book. All the traditions, all the extra scriptures, all the writings of men are superfluous. All the latter day prophecies and new age visions are bogus and forgeries. All the new ism’s and old human religions are mirages, if don’t teach Bible literally. This lady came to the right place to meet the Lord.
And she ignored all the obstacles that stood in her way. Things like spiritually imperceptive Pharisaical disciples. Only patient grace keeps the Lord from taking a whip into many of His churches, just as He did in the Temple, to drive out the hypocrites with their foot tripping millstones. Oh, what crying, fussing, disgraceful, self-centered, hypocrites fill God’s churches. The reason we see so few women like this Syrophenician is because we so filled with sin and self-righteousness. The time has come that judgment MUST begin at the house of God, but we don’t want it. She might have said, “Out of my way, you so-called disciples, I’ve purposed to meet the King of kings.” No one could dissuade this love and sorrow-filled mother.
And she besought the Lord; Oh, how she prayed, supplicated and implored the Lord Jesus. This was no common prayer, and that is one reason why she received what she asked of God. We Christians are often so mechanical, so superficial, so flippant in our prayers. No wonder the heavens seem as brass and the roof as a sound-proof partition between us and God. Hers was a humble prayer, as we might expect from someone who didn’t count herself worthy of the Lord. She cast herself at feet of Saviour; she worshipped Him with face in dust. “Who am I to approach the Creator of the Universe?” She was on thin ice, and best way cross dangerous ice is to spread out her weight. Stand up and the concentrated pressure of your weight will send you to Davy Jones locker. But if you fall on your face, spreading your self, you’ll have far more stability. Christ did not come into world to save the proud and arrogant. Instinctively this mother knew that “God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble.” “Lord, I don’t want the bread that belongeth to Israel, just opportunity to scavenge a few crumbs.”
Hers was a pleading, begging prayer: “O Lord, thou son David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” The Lord answered her not a word or even a glance with His wonderful eye. She cried out again, “Lord, help me.” Jesus told her that His ministry was to the Israel, the elect nation. Still she wouldn’t give up. “Yes, Lord, and yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.”
She overcame one Biblical fact with facts of her own. Centuries earlier the unalterable law of the Medes of and the Persians said the Jews must be slaughtered on the 13th of Adar. There was no way to reverse any law of the Medes and the Persians. But another law could be passed permitting the Jews to put down their enemy before the 13th. The Lord said, “I am but sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” “Yes, Lord, but thou art gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and plenteous.” “Lord, you redeemed Rahab, the Canaanite harlot, and Ruth the Moabitess woman.” If this woman had known she could even used the words of the Lord Jesus Himself – Luke 4. “He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.”
Christian, strengthen your prayer life by studying the pleading of this mother. Hers was a tenacious prayer. At first the Lord answered her not a word, but she wouldn’t give up – she was importunate. Then He brought up the dreaded doctrine of election – “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” That subject terrifies so many untaught folk. “What if I’m not one of the elect?” They say. Who told thee that wast naked and not one of the elect? By whose authority do think such things? Election is as much an inclusive doctrine as an exclusive one. This woman might have thought, “He says I’m not one of his flock, but fact remains he is a Shepherd.” Shepherds have a love for sheep; just as mothers have a love for children. Only an estranged mother doesn’t yearn to hold and comfort a crying, forsaken baby. Only most depraved shepherd can turn his back on a lone lost sheep. “Lord, other sheep you have that are not of Israel’s fold; I wish to be one them.” Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” The disciples said, “Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of Life.” “I don’t care if people say I’m not elect, I’m clinging to Christ.” Forget about God’s doctrine of election, and turn to Christ. He will not turn thee away, I guarantee, if you turn in faith and repentance.
This mother’s prayers were filled with faith. “Lord, your ministry may be primarily to the lost sheep of Israel, yet you did come here. Why are you even here if it isn’t to help me. Lord help!” The presence of Christ is as good as a promise of Christ.
Does the Holy Spirit of Christ convict you of sin and salvation, then turn to Him. His ministry in your heart is proof of His concern for your soul. Can you name one person who came to Christ in repentance and faith who the Lord turned away? Christ does not deny the heart which He Himself fills with true Biblical faith. I am not talking about the common frothy, false and humanistic kind pseudo-faith. I am referring to a faith which stems from a ministry of the Spirit and the Word.
But the question still remains: Why did Jesus appear to push her away? I like the way Spurgeon put it; He saw her faith the first moment she cried out. It was to Him as beautiful as the most exquisite diamond. So he picked it up, turned it around and looked on every facet of it. He put it under a black light, then a blue one, and each time it shined out – “Faith.” When the Lord had examined it to fullest He put it back into its rustic setting and it gave the highest honor. “And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
These are the mothers that we need in Post Falls this morning.
Mothers who know who they are and what their problems are, but who also know the Saviour. We need mothers who will not be silenced, whose faith conquers every obstacle. And we need mothers who know how to pray; Who can draw out the very omnipotence of God. And of course, they must know the Lord as their own Saviour.
Are you one of those people?