In yesterday’s text from Matthew 15, where Jesus and his disciples engage a woman in Canaan, we are once again reminded that Jesus is known for his expansive outreach. Jesus has a wide embrace of others! He came, he says in earlier remarks, to recover the lost “sheep” of Israel. Will he be the hope of others who are not part of Israel? In this story of the Canaanite woman, we have our answer. Jesus is more gracious than anyone could have imagined.
Jesus was criticized for receiving sinners. He also was ridiculed for reaching out to outcasts. Yet, to be near Jesus means to be near the “stranger.” In fact, if we wish to bring Jesus into our lives, please be advised that he will bring his friends along. In this 15th chapter of Matthew, we discover that the good news of Jesus is good news for all. Jesus has mercy on the Canaanite woman and her daughter.
Let us ask forgiveness when we attempt to limit the boundaries of God’s kingdom. Let us repent when we fail to show hospitality to and welcome newcomers. We do need to have great faith, says Jesus, to do great things. Jesus has called us to take some seemingly impossible steps, like pray for those who persecute us. Or to walk 2 miles if anyone asks us to walk one. And now he requires something else. Remember, as the Bible tells us, we all know what it means to be a “stranger in a strange land.” That’s why we need to be close to Jesus…to have the faith and courage to mimic, as best we can, the One who welcome a Canaanite woman. Peace, Pastor Gary