Monday, November 2, 2015

If You Ask Me To


There's this Canaanite woman in the gospels and she is my favorite. Seriously, we could be BFF's.

Why? Because the woman just doesn't give up. I like that. Plus, she is catty. (I learned about being catty from my precious grandma, thank you very much!)

I imagine that she's spent her whole life living under the suffocating stigma that she is less than, a curse, and unworthy. But on this particular day, she is determined to change her legacy.

For starters, Jesus was trying to keep his presence a secret at the particular house into which he entered. Nice try. For some reason, people flock to brilliance; have you ever noticed that? I love how Mark puts it: "He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret" (Mark 7:24 NIV).

So Miss Canaanite (which essentially means Miss Cursed, mind you) decides she will bombard Jesus with her current emergency of a demon possessed daughter.

Okay, can we pause and appreciate the tenacity and desperation of this momma for a moment? I mean, Lord bless her, can you blame the woman? We've all had that moment where we'd do anything to make the crazy in our child stop, right? (Don't shake your head, you know you have. Remember that day in Target on the Disney Princess aisle? Yeah, that's what I thought.) Anyway...

I love how Jesus acts like He doesn't hear her. Isn't that cute? I think He could totally hear her; He just wanted to see how desperate and committed to this she really was. I also think Jesus appreciates wit, don't you? You remember those lists we used to make for our potential boyfriend or spouse? We'd write down all the things we hoped our future mate would have. I've had one of those stored in my head about God for years, and a sense of humor ranks among the top for me.

_____________________________________________

THE GOD I WORSHIP MUST HAVE'S...
1. Must be powerful
2. Must have sense of humor
3. Must be capable of calming my high-strung butt down

_____________________________________________

See what I mean? This Canaanite woman no doubt had a list like mine.

Because I'm no biblical scholar and I think I'd butcher this, here is a brilliant explanation of this exchange in terms of society's political and religious atmosphere at that time from Dr. Allen Ross in "An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew":

Jesus wanted the disciples and the woman to understand fully that His ministry in the brief time He had on earth was very focused. He was the Son of David, the Messiah. That fact did not admit this Canaanite woman to the benefits of the covenant made with the Jews. The kingdom had to be fully offered to them first, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom. (The passage is like John 4:22 where it was recognized that “salvation is from the Jews.”) So all the woman could do is ask for mercy, general mercy as a non-Israelite.

So basically, she was asking for something that didn't have her name tag on it.

And you know, I love how Jesus has the ability to make a new name tag right on the spot, don't you? He is the Son of God, which gives Him power and authority to do His Father's will...and we now understand that His Father's will is that all would hear and be saved--even the Canaanites or the pagans (Matthew 18:14; 2 Peter 3:9). I sorta think Jesus knew that at this moment; He was just prodding the Canaanite woman to press into Him and ask for it, to truly want what He could offer.

Anyway, when Jesus gives her an excuse of why He maybe can't help her, her cattiness comes out with claws. She essentially takes her political and societal labels and maneuvers them into a loophole where Jesus has to help her.

"'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table'' (Matthew 15:27 NIV).

See what she just did there? She is saying that she knows full well what her place in society is (under the Jews that is), but she is desperate enough that she'll take home a doggy bag. She doesn't even expect to order from the menu; she'll settle for the true diners' left overs.

She knows that even a smidge of His grace will do the trick.

See why I like her so much? She isn't high maintenance. She just needs a little.

And so Jesus does just that. I imagine His smile and His white flag admission: "All right, all right. Good one," as He chuckles to Himself.

I have a feeling she was one of Jesus' favorites, too.

You know what this woman teaches me? She teaches me that it's okay to bombard Jesus! He can hear, and He is capable of taking on whatever burden I'm hauling around. He has the power to grant whatever it is that we need, no matter if it seems like something completely out of our reach or not! If what you need is out of reach and has someone else's name tag on it, Jesus can add yours and He can hand it to you.

But you must ask Him to. He wants you to ask Him to. He wants you to confess that He is actually powerful enough to rescue you, to save you, to heal you, to carry you through the dark hours of your life--whatever that hour looks like.

If you ask me to, I will.
Peace of Christ to you,

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