Scraps Of Grace

Text:  Matthew 15:21-28 

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Would you like to supersize your meal? Absolutely!

Would you like more chocolate sauce on your ice cream? Most definitely!

Are you going to apply for that new job? Why wouldn’t I apply!

Are you working on that new promotion? Without a doubt!

We human beings seem never to be content with just a little but are always wanting more. Yes, we never seem to be comfortable but are always striving to get higher. The reason why? We assume that bigger is better and that to be better we need to be bigger.

In fact, I think it is safe to say that marketers prey on our covetous desires, making us feel inferior if we do not own the next best thing. And employers hope that we will scramble for the top position because it will help increase a business’ productivity.

And so, we typically are never content with a little and do not want to be on the bottom. Indeed, the more that we can have and the higher that we can be, the more we are supposedly satisfied.

So, why on earth was the Canaanite woman from our Gospel reading so content with crumbs and morsels? Why on earth was she happy with being like a scraggly dog, sitting under the table eating crumbs and morsels that fell to the floor?

Who likes crumbs; who is happy being a dog?

The Canaanite woman in our Gospel reading had a daughter who was demonically possessed. The evil one had seized her precious girl, and nothing that the mom could do was able to remove the claws of the demon from her daughter’s soul. All she could do was stand and watch her daughter squirm and wail in agony from the hellish clutches of that demonic being. She was helpless to cure her child. She was out of control as the demon tormented her daughter.

So, in her helplessness, she goes to the only one that she thinks that can help her. She goes to Jesus.  She goes to Jesus and cries out.

I get the impression that she had a lot of tears, that her speech was muffled, and that she was somewhat out of control in her plea for mercy. It seems that she dumped all of her emotions, struggles, and groans upon Jesus.

To our surprise, she was met with an icy rejection of our Lord. It was almost as if Jesus was treating the mother as if she had a demon herself. But this does not matter. The mother continues to cry out; however, Jesus does not grant the mother’s request.

But again, this does not matter. The mother continues to cry out, for that is what faith does. She becomes like a yippy little dog, begging and barking for the smallest of crumbs from the master even when told to go.

Long story short, the mother ends up on her knees in the dust, begging, “Lord help me!” And Jesus ends up calling her a dog, unworthy of the bread that He came to bring to His people, the Jews. To this the mother replied, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Dear friends, this mother was content with crumbs. She was happy being considered a dog. And the reason why? She knew that even dogs belonged in the house and are fed and cared for. She knew that if she was a mere dog in the eyes of the Lord that at least she was saved. She did not expect to be a child and sit at the table to eat meat and drink wine, for she was content with just being in the house. She was content with a little from Jesus because she had nothing.

You see, the mother had great faith. She not only understood the predicament of sin, death, and the devil upon her life and her daughter’s life, but her faith would not let Jesus be anything other than the gracious, kind, and loving Savior that she had heard about.

This is how faith operates. Faith which is created by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel not only acknowledges the predicament of sin, death, and the devil, but clings to the only solution – Jesus Christ, and is content with Jesus in spite of the difficult circumstances abounding in its midst.

And so, the mother would gladly cry and crawl around under the tables and benches, gathering up food from the scraps and be satisfied with little, because she knew that crumbs from the Lord were enough to sustain her and her daughter. She would rather have the mere crumbs of Jesus than no Jesus at all.

Psalm 84, verse 10 talks about this too. It says,

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

In other words, a lowly place in salvation is much better than a lavish life ending in condemnation. Eating from the crumbs of the Lord’s Table is better than eating the prime rib of the world’s banquet halls. Being a dog of the Lord is better than being the king of a country. Besides, as poor miserable sinners, we do not have the right to expect much, for we do not even deserve scraps under the table, but a place in the dog house outside.

Dear friends, it is like this: left to ourselves we are completely and totally unable to produce true fear and trust in God. Our problem of sin is not just some mere mistakes here and there. For if sin was just mistakes, we would only need a 5-10 minute savior. However, if sin is a condition that we cannot remove; if sin has sunk its claws into us and all we can do is stand and watch the destruction that it has on our lives and others; if sin is truly that bad leading us to death, then we are truly helpless, just like the Canaanite woman and desperately need to cry out. 

And when our cries for mercy come before Jesus, even if He rebukes us as sinners and calls us a dog, we must not go away but must confess all the more that we would gladly be a mangy mutt licking up the scraps of grace by His feet, for we do not even deserve this. Indeed, we must confess by faith that we are poor sinners, yet at the same time say with brave confidence,

You Lord Jesus did not come for the righteous but for sinners – sinners like me. Indeed, Jesus, you told me to come to you and that you would give me rest. Therefore, Jesus, I will gladly rest at your feet in safety and security; I will gladly feast upon the crumbs of your mighty grace, for you know that I do not even deserve this mighty place at your feet under the table.[1]

Dear Baptized Saints, as we saw with the Canaanite woman, it was impossible for Jesus to turn away from her. And so it is the same for you; it is impossible for the fount of divine mercy to remain shut to poor miserable sinners clinging – by faith – to Jesus.

And so, when we acknowledge ourselves as sinners and cry out for grace, we do not merely have a share in the crumbs and morsels of the Lord under the table, but we are given a seat with Christ at His table where we receive His true body and blood. And furthermore, we are given a seat with Christ at His Father’s table, where we will rejoice with Jesus in eternal life, forever and ever.[2]

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

[1] Johann Spangenberg, The Christian Year of Grace: The Chief Parts of Scripture Explained in Questions and Answers, tr. Matthew Carver (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2014), 114.
[2] Ibid.

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