Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Dry lips. Lightheadedness. Muscle soreness. Difficulty concentrating. These are all signs of extreme fatigue. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has tried to get alone to rest (and pray) multiple times but with each endeavor he is “recognized” and greeted by needy people, and sometimes thousands of them. Nowhere are we told his symptoms, but his exhaustion must be taking a toll. In one more effort to withdraw from people, he is approached by a screaming woman. His response will annoy, comfort, and confound.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. What sort of images might flood the mind of a first-century Jew upon hearing the word “Canaanite” (verse 22)?
2. What were some of the obstacles facing the woman who approaches Jesus? What does this say about her resolve?
3. What does it mean to wrestle with God, and when, if ever, should we do it? Where in Scripture do we see examples of people contending with God?
4. How does Jesus’ initial silence (verse 23) encourage us in our temptations?
5. This passage reveals something of God’s plan for redemption. How so?
6. Why is it significant that this story immediately follows the exchange that Jesus had with the religious leaders concerning the “traditions of men”? What would you say are some of the key differences?
1. Read Matthew 15:21-23.
2. “They are notoriously our bitterest enemies.” – Josephus
3. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.” – Matthew 15:22
4. 01. Faith knows who Jesus is.
5. “The pagan woman’s cry confesses Jesus as Messiah (“Son of David”) at the very same time that … the leadership of the people of God are rejecting that conviction.” – Joachim Gnilka
6. Healer, Miracle Worker, Teacher, Provider, Radical, Tolerant Counselor, Voice of the Marginalized,
Moral Example, & Life Coach
7. “But he did not answer her a word.” – Matthew 15:23
8. Read Matthew 15:24-26.
9. “Though not the children of the house, [house dogs] have a place within its walls, and are fed, if not with the children’s bread. Thus the term, which on Jewish lips could have sounded like a reproach, is used by the Lord to open a door of hope.” – Henry Barclay Swete
10. Read Matthew 15:27-28.
11. 02. True faith believes in the goodness of God’s plan, even when present circumstances suggest the contrary.
12. “Faith is holding on to Jesus for dear life, like a drowning person to a life raft, believing that Jesus is good even when his words do not seem like to be.”
13. 03. The faith that Jesus honors is a desperate (but hopeful) cry for mercy.