Matthew_15

Scripture

Matthew 15:28,32

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

Observation

This chapter encases just a few of Jesus’ many names – teacher, healer, provider.  He teaches that it’s what comes from within – what flows out of our hearts and our mouths – that defiles us, not that which comes from without – in this case, unclean hands.  He heals the Canaanite woman because of her bold faith, which brought her to His feet even after she had cried out and he did not respond.  He provides food to eat (and ample surplus) to the four thousand plus who had come to seek Him. 

Yet, what strikes me throughout, is the hunger of the people. 

Understanding

I’ve heard it said that a hungry heart stirs God to action.  Matthew 15 shows this to be true.  As we walk back through the chapter, we learn that where there is hunger, God moves. 

Let’s first look at the Pharisees.  There is no sense of hunger – not in their questions, not in their behavior.  They are focused on manmade rules…perhaps born out of something scriptural or made with good intentions, but they are missing the point!  They are too focused on rule abiding to even experience true abiding with God.  Yes, God wants obedience but obedience alone is not enough; He desires obedience that comes out of a deep love and longing for relationship with Him.  What was the end result?  Jesus taught, but there was no space for Him to move hearts. 

Now, let’s look at Jesus and the Canaanite woman.  She was hungry for change.  She didn’t wait until Jesus was ready for visitors, she sought Him out, even as He withdrew.  She “came to him, crying out” on behalf of her daughter.  “Jesus did not answer a word.”  At that point, how many of us would have said “Well, I tried my best.  I sought Him out and asked but He did not respond.  Perhaps it’s not His will.”  But no!  Miss Canaanite woman pursued the disciples and, when that didn’t work, she came and knelt before Him crying out again.  And, it was her hungry faith that brought healing to her daughter in that very moment!  Hunger stirred action.

And, finally, the feeding of the four thousand.  The people were [physically] hungry and 7 loaves of bread and few small fish ultimately end up feeding thousands but did you catch the first hunger?  The spiritual one?  Once again, Jesus has withdrawn, this time to a mountainside.  But people were hungry for change, hungry for healing…

30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

They sought Him out, abiding with Him for THREE FULL DAYS!  They were not going to miss an opportunity to be in His presence – whether for teaching or healing or just the way it made them feel.  And the result?  They were fed physically and spiritually.  Their hunger stirred Jesuss to compassion and, ultimately, to action. 

Life Application

I’m reminded of the Surge challenge to “get that bread.”  If you’re like me, you’re eating 3-5 times a day and getting some snacks in between.  But, if I’m honest, my spiritual appetite is not the same.  And, unlike our physical hunger that seems to just come naturally every few hours from the moment we are born, our spiritual hunger requires a bit of cultivating.  There’s a 3-10 ways to do nearly anything and I found this one to be one that spoke to my heart – 6 Ways You Can Stir Up Hunger for God.

https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/02/11/hunger-for-god-6-ways-you-can-stir-it-up/

The paraphrased version is this:

  • Fast – cut stuff out (food, media, activity) to make space for abiding with God
  • Pray – pray for spiritual hunger
  • Remember – take time to remember your most intimate times with God
  • Catch it – spend time with hungry people
  • Hear it – spend time in worship, listen for His voice
  • Act on it – respond to what God speaks to you

‘I have come to realise that the real tragedy in the church is not spiritual famine: it is famine without hunger, dryness without thirst.’

May we get and stay hungry! 

PS Our 28 days of prayer and fasting is coming up soon, why not get a head start in cultivating that hunger now! J

Rei

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