In Matthew 15 we meet the Lawyers of the Lips..that is the Pharisees and Scribes who lived by the Oral Law not the written Law. Many today follow the same code of rules. Do not taste, do not touch, do not…do not..you fill in the blank. Jesus rightly called them hypocrites. And so He might of me as well when I become so rule oriented that I am neither earthly good nor heavenly blessed. They were offended by what Jesus told them in Matt 15:8…their heart was far from God. They spoke the words but lived a lie. How often do I also hold the traditions and ways of my church or even my interpretation higher than what God says. God says “Obey Me, Follow Me, and I will bless you.”
Leaving the offended…even Jesus could not stomach these lip lawyers any more. Does Jesus find that I am too causing him a stomach ache? Is my heart rightly attune to the Father or more oriented to my “to do” list?
We find he retreats to Sidon and meets a woman who is “unclean.” The Lip Lawyers had called him Unclean because he did not wash his hands as “they did.” Now he meets a true “unclean person” …a Canaanite. The key word in this passage is “me.” The woman sought mercy for herself: “have mercy on me” and “Lord help me.” She did not live by the words of the lawyers but lived on faith alone as Jesus noted. Busy as a mom ministering to a child who was demon possessed she came and begged for help–not for the child but for herself. She asked Jesus: Help me to know what to do. Help me be strong in this adversity. Help me have wisdom to help my child. Sometimes it is not the healing, although that is a prayer we should offer and seek, but it is the present need for help in this difficulty that we should offer. Healing is secondary to our personal challenge of the present moment. Unlike the Pharisees her heart was near and dear to God. She not only honored God with her lips but also with her heart.
May I remember her faith and echo her words when I am at my wits end.
PS I love this drawing done by Pastor Jared Hollier. *jaredhollier.com* It captures it fully just as Jesus might have drawn it.