A Foreign Language

Her situation was desperate and He was in the neighborhood. She had a daughter “severely oppressed by a demon” — a demon perhaps invited into the home through her pagan practices. He was the Son of God. She was on a mission to do whatever was necessary to help her daughter. He was on a mission to glorify His Father — and, strictly speaking, His “target audience” was the house of Israel. And so, He had traveled to the borders of that land with the good news of the kingdom. But, it seems, that word had also traveled to the heathen that He was in the vicinity. And so she crossed the line . . . literally. She “came out” from that region. And then she called out. Called out to the One she believed could bring deliverance. And she called out in a foreign language.

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”   (Matthew 15:21-22 ESV)

She was a Canaanite woman. Mark says that she was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And what grabbed me this morning is that, when she comes to Jesus begging Him to deliver her little girl, she addresses Him as “O Lord, Son of David.”

What’s a Canaanite woman doing using that sort of language? Even if you “give away” the use of “lord” as simply a term of respect, what does she know about David? Or, about His Son, the prophesied Messiah? Evidently something.

Not only has word reached beyond Israel’s borders concerning the miracle-performing, upstart Rabbi from Nazareth, but this pagan woman knows something about the promises made to the people neighboring her borders. And, apparently, hasn’t dismissed them but, at some level, believes them. And so she goes to Jesus and addresses Him with language uncommon to her normal way of life — “O Lord, Son of David.”

And though the Spirit had not yet been widely given, I can’t help but wonder how a foreign woman, in a pagan culture, comes to the realization that Jesus is the Lord, the Son of David.

And, I can’t help but identify. For I too, once unaware of God’s promises, once pursuing the ways of this world, was brought to a place where I also spoke in a foreign language.

Not reared in the things of God. Unfamiliar with any aspect of the kingdom of heaven. For the most part, unaware of any great need I might have. There came a point in my life when I too used that foreign word, “Lord.” Not sure I pronounced it very confidently, but did so sincerely. Not really sure of all that it meant, but believing it was linked to eternal life. Not the most natural word for me to use, but one, when spoken, would have a supernatural impact.

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  (Matthew 15:24-25 ESV)

O’ the grace of God that leads people far removed from the things of heaven to come in faith before the eternal Son of David, and speak in a language that has been foreign to them all their lives.

“Lord, help me.” That, my friends, is amazing, saving grace.

To Him be all glory . . .

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