John A. Broadus
Never, save on this
occasion, did our Lord go beyond the border of Palestine. He was a "minister
of the circumcision "-"not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of
Israel." He did not absolutely restrict his benefits to the Jews, for centurions as
well as this woman knew his healing power. But the Gentile restriction, and the hesitation
here, may seem strange in view of the fact that the peculiar glory of the gospel was that
its benefits should extend to the Gentiles, that the exclusiveness of the Jewish system
was to be broken down. It seems to be a part of that obvious plan in God's moral
government that great changes are not made suddenly, but gradually, as man was to be
prepared to receive. The Messiah was the son of David-his dispensation was to be an
enlargement and consummation of the Jewish system, and so the foundations of his kingdom
must be laid in Israel.
Now the best of the Jews could not be prepared at once for fraternizing with the Gentiles; therefore, had Jesus gone out among the Gentiles in the beginning, and placed them on the same footing, he would have shocked prejudices so as to gain no Jewish disciples. Even after his ascension, it required providential scattering and special vision to convince Peter that this was proper. Accordingly, he confined himself to his own nation and so did the seventy. But when his own work was finished, when the Holy Spirit came with his teachings, when the great principles of the Messiah's reign were more fully understood, then the apostles went preaching "repentance and remission of sins unto all nations."
But as Jesus went into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, be met a woman whose daughter was "grievously vexed with the devil." This woman's concern for her daughter expressed itself in a prayer which deserves our study and imitation in both its matter and its spirit. Let us notice them.
I. The subject of her prayer.
She prayed for blessings on her child. Many of us would pray thus too, if a child were so possessed. Some who neglect religion have at such a time made agonized petitions to God and made promises to him.
But are not your children and those of your friends diseased? Are they not, in a most important sense, affected with the disease of sin and under the power of Satan. I do not doubt you pray for them, often and earnestly, much more than they suppose. Sometimes you long to speak to them, yet you are afraid to do so. Therefore, you go away and pour it out before the Lord.
But do you pray as you should? With such earnestness as this woman manifested? Making each case your own? Christian parent, think often of your son, your daughter, living as they do. Pray for them; live rightly before them; and seek in every way to win them to Christ. It will be better for you, though not lessening their guilt, if they die before you, or are left behind you, impenitent; it will be a comfort if you can ere long be joined with them in Christian hope, and when you depart to be with Christ, can know that they are pressing toward the mark. In view of death, and eternity, pray, Christian hearers, for your dear kindred, and for your children.
II. The character of her prayer.
1. It was a believing prayer.
She believed that Jesus was Messiah, the "Son of David," and that he was able and willing to heal her child. How great was her faith! Has he not the power and willingness to save us, to bless us with spiritual blessings?
2. It was an humble prayer.
She was willing to take the position Jesus gave her. So should it be with us. We should stand where God's Word places us. But many are not willing to do this. When God's Word declares them depraved, they defend themselves against the charge. When God's Word calls them guilty, they deny or seek to extenuate. When God offers them salvation as a free gift, they are unwilling to accept. This, for the unconverted, is a matter of great importance, to stand where God places you, and accept what God offers you.
Many beautiful instances of humility might be found in Scripture, such as the centurion, publican, and Paul, but none is more worthy of imitation than the humble plea of the woman of Phoenicia.
3. It was persevering prayer.
The object of our Lord's seeming repulse was probably to test the perseverance of her faith. She persevered because she really desired what she sought. Her perseverance won her desire.
Here is a prayer which is worthy of imitation. Here is a spirit which We could well imitate.
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