Why Insults & Public Opinion Do Not Matter For The Christian

Text: Matthew 15:21-28

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

It is really difficult to be insulted when you know the insult is true. It is also difficult to be insulted when the insult is not as offensive as it could be – when it could be worse.   

For example, I can remember riding on an airplane where the passenger found out that I was a pastor. He began to tell me all the problems he had with Christianity – how the followers of Christ were such terrible people. In response to his criticisms, I responded in a peculiar way – I agreed with him. In fact, I told him that he was not harsh enough. I went on to tell him how Christians were poor miserable sinners who justly deserve God's temporal and eternal punishment. Needless to say, he was not prepared for my response. He was not prepared for me to agree with him and then add to his criticisms of Christians, especially when I shared that pastors are the worst.  

You see, we Christians should be able to look at our lives realistically. In other words, as you examine your own life, you should examine your thoughts, words, and deeds according to the Ten Commandments. You should hold up your life in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other – and then compare the two while saying, "Have [I] been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have [I] been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have [I] hurt someone by [my] words or deeds? Have [I] stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?" [1]  Then, after you have honestly answered these questions, you can say that you are close to reality.

But what does this have to do with being insulted?
Think of it this way, if you are ever insulted, chances are, the insult is true. In fact, if you have properly judged your life according to the Ten Commandments, the chances that an insult is worse than the judgment of the Ten Commandments is not very high. For example, if someone calls you a sinner, well, that is entirely true. However, they could have probably insulted you a bit more. They should've called you the chief of sinners. That is closer to reality. Do you get my point? 

Now, dear friends, the point that is being made is rather clear: when we acknowledge and understand reality – that the world and our sinful nature are every bit as bad as the Bible says - it actually creates a sense of humility in you and me. And with this humility, instead of spending all sorts of time trying to justify ourselves before other people, well… we don't play silly games but know our place before God. In other words, knowing who we are according to the Ten Commandments, prevents us from playing those games where we pretend that we are holier than thou or those games where we put on metaphoric masks to pretend that we are great, smart, and good.  Instead, we can know and understand our sinful condition accurately and realistically. We know that we are sinners, and we know that we are in need. We know that we must have forgiveness, life, and salvation. We know that without grace, we are sunk – we are done. 

And so, insults do not matter when you are at the bottom. Insults do not matter when you have already been humbled to the status of a poor miserable sinner. The insults of mankind are small potatoes – insignificant annoyances compared to our status before God as poor miserable sinners.  

Now, this is the exact place that the Canaanite Woman was at in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew. In the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we hear about a Canaanite woman dropping to her knees, begging Jesus for help. As is true for most beggars, this woman croaked like a raven. It was a shriek – a cry for mercy. And to boot, she was most likely in the dirt, with a posture of reverence, fear, and desperation.

But this is where our reading from the Gospel of Matthew challenges us quite dramatically. We hear Jesus say to the woman, 
"It's not right to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs."
Did you hear that? Did Jesus just call her a dog? Yes, He did. Yes, He certainly did.  

Now, there is much ink spilled by theologians trying to understand what Jesus just said here. Many theologians try to soften what Jesus said, as if it was not as harsh as it sounded. I am by no means a historian or a linguist, but I do know that calling another person – particularly a woman – a dog is not a flattering move. Martin Luther even commented on this, saying that with all the encounters of Jesus, none of the encounters were this harsh.  

Nonetheless, do not get too hung up on the apparent insult. Do not get worked up, offended, triggered, or emotional! Don't start a petition! Don't try to establish a movement to cancel Jesus! Just stop! Look at the Canaanite woman! Yes, look at the Canaanite woman's response! She doesn't disagree. She isn't insulted. She affirms Jesus. She gladly takes the term 'dog" for herself and says, 
"You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table." 
I am not sure if you realize this, but people who oppose Jesus always seem to be in front of Him rather than following Him. People who oppose Jesus seem to be standing with pride rather than kneeling in the dirt with humility. People who oppose Jesus seem to be always arguing rather than begging. In other words, if you find yourself insulted by God's Word and His Ten Commandments – if you find yourself offended by the term poor miserable sinner, well, you certainly are not in the company of the Canaanite woman but in the company of the Pharisees - who killed Jesus. If you are easily insulted in this life, sensitive to the harshness of God's Law, and unwilling to be a sinner, you need to stop taking yourself so seriously. You are not that important. You are not that special. You are not that good. Furthermore, if you do not wish to be called a sinner, Jesus is no use to you, nor is his church, for Christ comes only for sinners.  

This is why Jesus tells the Canaanite woman that she has great faith. You see, great faith knows two things and only two things. It knows that we are great sinners and that we need a greater savior.  

That is why the Canaanite woman couldn't care less if she was an honored guest at the Lord's table. She could care less what other people thought of her. It did not matter if she was an honored guest or a dog under the table, or an ant under a foot. When a person is spiritually bankrupt, at the end of the rope, they will take anything, even if it is just a crumb from the master's table. 

Baptized Saints, learn the meaning of Psalm 84. To paraphrase Psalm 84: 
"I would rather scrub and mop floors in God's house than be an honored guest in a palace of sin."  
Beware of the trap of taking yourself so seriously - puffing yourself up too much - that you forget or are offended to be looked upon as a sinner, for Christ dwells only with sinners. The Gospel is for sinners only.[2] 

Does this mean that we should pride ourselves with our sin? Of course not! Celebrating sins is not reality but the kind of games that sloppy pigs play. Instead, we confess that we are sinners because it is true. And then, like that Canaanite woman, we sinners direct that cry to the only one that hears sinners, loves sinners, and forgives sinner – Jesus Christ.  And Christ?  He does not despise you, me, or even the Canaanite woman but forgives, aids, and shows compassion.  

Baptized Saints, you are not easily insulted but instead, you confess your sins boldly.  And then you believe even more boldly in Christ, for there is always more grace in Christ than there is sin in you and me.  
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, The Small Catechism: Confession
[2] Excerpt of Martin Luther's Letter to Friar George April 8, 1516

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