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MegaFaith (2): Table Scraps

. 4 min read

Message begins at the 6:30 mark. Prior segment is another Bible story (audio only).

2014/06/22
Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer,
Psalm 87 (born in Zion)
Children,
Luke 10.25-37 (Good Samaritan)
Message,
Matthew 15.21-28
Saving Private Ryan:
      Captain Miller to Private Ryan, “Make it count”
      Cemetery scene,
“I
hope, at least in your eyes, that it was enough, that I earned what all of you
had done for me…. Tell me I have led a good life; tell me I’m a good man”
The
problem in the text: Racism
      Nice racism: “I was sent only to the lost sheep
of Israel”
      Rude racism: “It is not right to take the
children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (“dog” = Gentile; “throw” = generally
with violent force or simply without care)
Our
prejudice and bigotry:
      Sexism also possible in the text, but not
explicitly spoken
            (part of the behavior of the
disciples)
      Assumptions; categories (simpler but we
miss the person)
      Fear and even hatred
            Immigrants are here to take our jobs
& marry our kids
                  Yet,
are immigrants’ kids
            Gay men must be interested in me
                  Yet, quite okay with hetero
women being attracted
                  Simply irresistible?
      Even those who advocate acceptance can be
close-minded
Why
would Jesus talk like this?
There
is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer
male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3.28)
This one was born in Zion (Psalm 87)

      He talked to the Samaritan woman (John 4)
      He pointed out God’s grace shared with
Gentiles by Israel’s prophets
            (And it almost got him killed – Lk
4)
      Can safely conclude that Jesus is neither
racist nor sexist
      Earlier in Mt 15.11
It
is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out
of the mouth that defiles.
      Speaking aloud exactly what the disciples
are thinking
            Shine a spotlight on the sin
            Deconstruct their hatreds and fears
Our
focus: MegaFaith (15.27-28)
      “Woman! Great is your faith!” (great = mega,
Greek)
      Last week: Centurion, Mt 8, faith = put
self fully under Jesus’ authority
            Total obedience
      This week: What does Jesus recognize as
great faith?
            “Have mercy on me Lord”
            “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that
fall from their master’s table”
“Unworthy”
      She does not advocate for her goodness or
worth
      She is not depending on herself, but only
on the mercy of Jesus
      “Tell me I have led a good life; tell me
I’m a good man”
      “Make it count”
When
it comes to the sacrifice of Jesus for us, when it comes to the mercy of God –
there is nothing we can do to earn it, to compensate for it, to become deserving
of it, to be worthy of it. But we keep trying. We think of ourselves as “good
people”, and, by and large, we are good people. Just not good enough, not good
enough for the perfect one, the righteous one, to die in our place. No one is
that good. “We are not worthy … to gather up the crumbs under thy table”
(Prayer of Humble Access).
      Yet, we cling to our goodness. Our
knuckles turn white, our teeth clench as we hold desperately to the
proposition, “I’m a good man”. This language of goodness is the language of
comparison. If we are good, that means we are better than someone else, better
than that Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon, better than that
Samaritan, better than that immigrant, better than that homosexual.
      As long as we cling to our goodness, our
worthiness, our status, we are at risk – at risk of missing out on grace. It is
the mercy of God, the very gift the woman seeks, that is the great equalizer.
In my personal reading this week, Jesus tells a story of laborers who are all given
the same daily wage, even those hired at the very end of the day. The ones
hired first, who work through the heat of the day, complain saying, “You have
made them equal to us” (Matthew 20.12).

      Jesus appears to be giving his disciples a
lesson on their own bigotry, but this woman upstages the teacher. “Even the
dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”. She has no concern
for her status, her worth, her goodness. She is interested only in the mercy of
our Lord. MegaFaith indeed.