Jesus had been in conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees. He never liked such discussions, and though he was always victorious in every controversy, it grieved his spirit.
Mat_15:21. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
He was glad to get away, and made a journey over the hills to get at as great a distance as possible from these cavillers.
Mat_15:22. And behold, a woman of Canaan came.
A Syrophenician woman, one of the old, condensed race living in Tyre and Sidon.
Mat_15:23. But he answered her not a word.
Answers to prayers may be delayed; but delays are not always denials.
Christ’s silence must have been a great trial to the poor woman; but our Lord knew with whom he was dealing.
Mat_15:23. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Ah, these disciples made a grand mistake! She did not cry after them; she cried after him; but so they understood it: therefore they said, “Get rid of her; she disturbs us; when we are in the street, we can hear her cry. Send her away; for she crieth after us.” Ah! Poor disciples, she was not so foolish as to cry after you; she was crying after your Master. If any here have come only to hear the preacher, they have made a great mistake; but if you have come for a word from the Master, I pray that you may be gratified.
Mat_15:24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Christ did what he was sent to do; he was the Messiah, the sent One. He would not go beyond his mission, so he says, “I am sent.” He was sent as a Preacher and a Teacher, not to the Gentiles, but to Israel. He had a larger commission in reserve, and was yet to be a Saviour to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; but for the present he was to be a Shepherd to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Mat_15:25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord help me.
A very short prayer; but how much there was in it!
Mat_15:26-27. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
It is the faculty of faith to see in the dark. This woman spied out light in what seemed to be a very dark saying. Did Christ call her a dog? Well, dogs have their privileges when they lie under the table. Even if their master does not throw them a crumb, yet they may take that which falls from his hand. If Jesus would but allow any mercy to drop, as it were, accidentally, this woman would be content.
Mat_15:28-29. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. And Jesus departed from thence.
When he had done his business, he was off. Our Lord was a great itinerant; he was always on the move/ He had come all the way to the parts of Tyre and Sidon to help one woman; and when that one woman had been attended to, he goes back again immediately to his old post by the sea of Galilee.
Mat_15:29-30. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them.
In the prayer-meeting, held by the deacons and elders this morning, before I came in here, one of our friends observed in prayer that there might be many lame, blind, and maimed in the congregation, and he prayed that they might be brought to Jesus. Let us, by faith, bring them to him, and lay them at his feet. Oh, that this word, “He healed them,” might be true again today!
Mat_15:31. Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be made whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
Oh, for glory to God! There is no glory to god which equals that which comes from blind eyes which have been made to see; and from dumb lips which have been made to speak. The glories of nature and providence are eclipsed by the glories of grace. May we see such things today.
Mat_15:32. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
Ah, dear friends, they were willing to put up with inconvenience to hear the gospel in those days! Three days of sermon-hearing! People want sermons wonderfully short now, and the sermons must be marvelously interesting, too, or else the people grow dreadfully tired. If dinner-time came around, the dinner-bell, at any time, in these days, would drown all the attraction of the pulpit. But here were people that attended Christ’s ministry for three days, and they had nothing to eat. He had compassion upon them, and said to his disciples, “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.”
Mat_15:33-34. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye?
That is the point. It is idle to enquire about how much you want. “How many loaves have ye?”
Mat_15:34-35. And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
It was a token of Christ’s presence and power that they were willing to sit down on the ground. Think of thousands of people taking their places in an orderly way to feed upon seven cakes and a few little fishes! Without any demur, the crowd arranged itself into banquet order at the command of Jesus.
Mat_15:36-37. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled; and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
They were large baskets, too; not like the small food-baskets mentioned when the five thousand were fed. The word used here is the same word that is employed to describe the basket in which Saul was let down by the wall of Damascus.
Mat_15:38. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
Now, if the women and children bore the same proportion to the men as they generally do in our congregation, there must have been a very large crowd indeed. Why is the number of the women and children not mentioned? Was it because there were so many? Or was it because their appetites being smaller than the appetites of men, the men are put down as the great eaters, and the women and children, as it were, thrown into the count? What a mercy it is that the Lord adds to the church daily a vast number of men, women, and children! The Lord sends us many more, until we cannot count them!
Mat_15:39. And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
He had taught the people, and fed them; so now he goes elsewhere to carry similar blessings to others also.