13. March 2022
Behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word.
In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.
Jesus speaking and you listening is not child’s play. It’s not a game. It’s a matter of life and death. Without Jesus speaking, you are dead already, hurtling toward the grave and hell. By Jesus speaking, you are forgiven, rescued from this world, death, and hell, and delivered into Christ’s eternal kingdom. It’s not a game. It’s a matter of life and death.
The Word Jesus speaks. When He speaks, He does what He says. When He does not speak, that does not mean He is not listening. He is still the living God, active and doing. But you cannot know God’s will or His works without His Word. That’s why you are given to pray without ceasing, crying out after God for what you need for faith and life. And the Spirit intercedes as well before the Father with groaning too deep for words. When He answers, He does so by His Word. And when He does not speak, He does not want you to know. He’s already spoken and keeps speaking in His Word. But sometimes, you simply haven’t listened to Him.
Why don’t you listen? It’s not because you are deaf. Oh, you’ll hear. But you’ll long for those whom you will trust with your ears before Jesus. These are the experts, authorities, celebrities, best-selling authors, powerful, successful, and notable. They may have initials after their name, titles before their name, or crowns and diadems on their head. They impress, direct, and coddle you. Your brain switches into alpha, passive mode, and you dutifully follow them where ever they lead. Your ears are open, you listen, and you click like and subscribe to get their latest content.
But does any of it help? Does anything they say change you for the better? Today, are you better off because of what they have told you to do, say, or buy? Take a Sabbath rest from anyone and anything that does not deliver Jesus and His Word. Just try it for a day or a week and see if anything changes.
Better yet, replace the countless hours of the talking heads, actors, and puppets with a few minutes a day with Jesus. Sit at His feet, listen to what He says, and do whatever He tells you. I promise you, because Jesus promises you, that your life will be different. You’ll be set free to see your sin, the corrupt world, and the demonic assaults for what they are. But more importantly, you’ll be given the forgiveness, life, and salvation that Jesus’ blood and death delivers. Jesus will tear down anyone and anything that gets in His way, every idol, sin, lie, and liar that deceives you and misleads you. Day in and day out, Jesus will unstop your ears, listen to Him, and wash out your eyes to see.
Immediately before Jesus had His playful interaction with the Canaanite woman, He had one of his many less-than-friendly interactions with the scribes and Pharisees. He says to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? … You have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites!” (Mt 15:3-7) These Pharisees don’t recognize that much of what they believe to be from God is the teaching of their elders. They’ve inherited a whole series of rites and ceremonies, teaching and practices, that no longer serve to deliver God’s Word but have now gotten in the way. I’m sure they could say this in a multitude of ways, “Mom and dad taught me! The last pastor said! I read it on the internet! The lady on the TV or radio said! That’s not what I think! We’ve always done it this way!”
It is as Isaiah said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Is 29:13) That’s how much weight Jesus gives to all of the ways we try to reshape, reform, remold, recast His Word into what we want it to say or do. Jesus does not meet you halfway or accept you as you are. He does not abide by your attempts to make Him be the Jesus you want. He casts down every idol you worship, breaches every wall you’ve erected, washes out every shaking foundation you’ve trusted in. It’s devastating, and it’s good.
Hear what Jesus says this about all your false teachers and preachers with their titles and tiaras: “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” (Mt 15:13) But what does Jesus say to you? What does He do with you? He will never leave you in the grasp of those who mislead and confuse you. He rescues you from their hypnosis daily, breaking their spell with an often aggressive, invasive, and hostile Word.
Jesus’ interaction with the Syro-Phoenecian woman is a lovely picture of how He interacts with you. What He spoke was as much for her and His disciples as it is for you. In the struggle between what you experience and what He says, Jesus builds trust. He exposes truths that the sinner hates. He ruins misplaced beliefs and false hopes. He devastates selfish esteem and pride. Anything and anyone who gets in His way to saving you are leveled and destroyed.
Jesus doesn’t want trust that falters when you don’t get the answer you want right away. He doesn’t want trust that is dependent on your legacy or ancestry. He doesn’t want trust that claims to deserve or have earned His favor. These are the categories of false hope that talking heads, actors, and puppets wish you to believe. Sit at His feet, listen to what He says, and do whatever He tells you.
Here is an idea to get you started. In the morning, when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the + Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Say Luther’s morning prayer or whatever else is on your heart. Then go joyfully to your work, singing a hymn, like that of the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest. Or if you want more of Jesus’s Word and to listen to Him, follow the same order but expanded with readings for each day in the “Congregation at Prayer.”
Jesus speaking and you listening is not child’s play. It’s not a game. It’s a matter of life and death. Without Jesus speaking, you are dead already, hurtling toward the grave and hell. By Jesus speaking, you are forgiven, rescued from this world, death, and hell, and delivered into Christ’s eternal kingdom.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin