We need to learn to wrestle with God and pray like Jacob. "Let me go." "Not until you bless me!" Jacob knows that the Lord is the Lord who blesses and gives gifts and he's not gonna let go until he gets a blessing from that Lord. So the Lord gives Jacob a new name: Israel. Do you wrestle with God? Go round and round hoping He'll do something or hear your prayer and answer it? God is not a God who ignores you or puts you off. His wrestling with you is to teach you to hang on tighter, to trust Him more, to learn to believe that you have nothing and that He has everything. The Lord would teach you this lesson: that He is the God who blesses and gives you a new name. That name is given to you in Holy Baptism. The name of "Christian." That name means you have struggled with God. Your Old Adam has gone down to a watery death kicking and screaming, crucified as Jesus was crucified. Your new man has been brought forth, raised with Christ as He was raised from the dead. And that means you have a name the Lord has put on you. It marks you as one who is the recipient of His promises. Because you have the name the Lord gave you, all the promises He makes are for you, no matter how much it might look sometimes like they aren't.
We need to learn to pray like this Canaanite woman. Jesus ignores her. She persists. He calls her a dog. She agrees and says, "Yes! And even dogs get the crumbs." Because her daughter is under the power of the devil and she knows that Jesus cannot leave her in the devil's power. That's just not the kind of Jesus He is. He must help her because that is why He came. And when Jesus says, "Woman, great is your faith!" He's NOT telling her, "Way to be stubborn and hang in there." He's telling her, "Your faith trusts in Me, and it is not misplaced. I am the one who destroys the devil's power. And now it is destroyed for your daughter too." And for you too. Why? Crumbs from the table. Ok, more than just crumbs. But even a little bit of the body and blood of Jesus is enough to send the devil running away in fright! What does Jesus have for you? Against sin, death, temptation, devil, hell, the judgment of the Law, He gives Himself. The body broken on Calvary, the blood shed there--these declare to you, "Your faith, your Jesus has saved you." Faith is nothing else than saying, "I need that body and blood. As often as I can get it." For that body and blood, from this Master's table, is a healing, saving, forgiving, devil-overthrowing, death-destroying food. Between the Name you've been given in the water and the Word and the crumbs of life and salvation from Jesus' table, you can't but believe that God does not have it in for you but is out to save you and bless you.
Listen dear little doggies of Jesus: the devil has it in for you. He wants you to believe that God is going to put you in a sleeper hold and then abandon you. He wants to convince you that you have no claim on Jesus so it's no use trying to ask Him for anything. But everything the Lord does says otherwise. Jesus came to defeat this liar by speaking His Word. The Word of blessing that He speaks to Jacob, the Word of healing He speaks to the mother of the little girl, and the Word of your baptism, and the Word of absolution, and the Word of the Gospel preached into your ears, and the Word of His Supper--all these say the devil is a liar. These gifts and promises declare that no matter how badly things seem to be going right now or at some point, you cannot be anything other than loved and blessed by the Lord. No matter how much you seem to struggle, no matter how much things seem to fall apart, no matter how much temptation and sin attack you, you are the Lord's. His. No one else's. He died for you. He rose for you. He has named you. He feeds you. There is nothing you could want that God does not truly provide for your salvation and everlasting life. So go now, your faith, your Jesus, has saved you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Topics: Matthew