Just as the quintessential question of the Old Testament can be found in Genesis 3:9 which says, “Adam, where art thou?”…a question that is still resounding down through the ages of time to every offspring of Adam. There is also a quintessential question in the New Testament.
Of the almost 200 questions that Jesus asked in the New Testament; one of them stands out above all others in my mind. And this question…if meditated upon deeply and at length…can produce a great brokenness and humility within our hearts. This most profound question by the Lord can be found in Luke 18:8. Read it slowly and with a great searching of your own heart: “…when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” NKJV
The Son of Man is coming!! But here’s the question, will He find faith upon His return from His far country? Will he find faith in your heart and life? Will he find faith in the words you speak?
Did you know that there are only two things recorded in the gospels that Jesus marveled at during His time of ministry? And they both deal with faith…and the lack thereof. Let’s read them together:
“And he marveled because of their unbelief.” Mark 6:6
“Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” Matthew 8:10
In the first account we read of Him coming back to His own hometown of Nazareth to bless them and teach them. But all they could see was Jesus the man. They just couldn’t see past His outer shell. They were too familiar with Him. They missed the day of their visitation from the King. He would never come back to see them again. How sad for them. They missed out on so much. He was there to heal every single person in that city. But they just couldn’t accept Him. And He marveled at their unbelief (lack of faith).
But in the next account we read of a Centurion (a foreigner, a gentile, a Roman…the Jews’ sworn enemies) who so believed in this Man that he said that all the Lord had to do was speak the word only and his servant would be healed. And Jesus marveled at this man’s faith. He even said that He had not seen such faith from any person in all of Israel.
But I would like to draw your attention to another person of interest in the gospels that most overlook. She was another gentile. Of all people, she was a Syrophenician woman. They were looked upon as dogs by the Jews. She was of the offspring of Canaan; a race whom God cursed in Genesis 9:25. She was the worse of the worst.
Yet in all of the gospels, there are only two people whom Jesus said had great faith. The first one is the Centurion previously spoke about in this article (see Matthew 8:10b), and the other one is this woman. Isn’t it interesting that the only two times that Jesus said that someone had great faith, they were both a non-Jew? The two most hated people groups of the day in the eyes of the Jews….the Romans, and the Syrophenician’s.
This sure sheds great light upon the Lord’s statement found in His first sermon delivered in Nazareth in Luke 4 where Jesus spoke of two people in the days of Elijah and Elisha who were blessed by the Lord…Naaman the Syrian and the widow woman of Sidon. Neither of them were Jewish. On the contrary, the Syrians were the most despised people by King David, who fought them, and made war with them for his entire life. And the Sidonians were also a cursed people. Sidon was the firstborn son of Canaan (Gen. 10:15)…and of course you know the Canaanites were the most hated people in the Old Testament.
And we find this same truth being repeated by the Lord concerning two people He says has great faith…and neither of them is a Jew. They are once again the two most hated people groups of the day.
But what I want to draw your attention to today is the woman who……………. traveled through time. Yes, the Syrophenician woman was the first time-traveler listed in the New Testament. Did you know that? Most don’t. She actually traveled into the future and changed history and then came back. Sound farfetched? Let’s just see whether it’s true or not.
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.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 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.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:22-28
The Gospel of Mark adds something to the narrative…it brings out in Mark 7:24 that Jesus had entered a house privately so that He might rest. But this woman searched Him out and was relentless in her pursuit of Him. And she refused to take “no” for an answer.
Now, let’s put this in perspective: imagine that you have been trying to get an audience with a judge (and it’s a matter of life and death). And you’ve tried and tried and tried to get a meeting with him. Finally you hear that he is going to be at a certain restaurant at a certain time. You come there and you walk up to his table and state your case…and he answers you not a word. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even acknowledge your presence.
Here’s the cold hard truth: most would have just given up right there and said to themselves, “This isn’t worth it” or “Just who does this guy think he is?” or “What a stuck-up man.” or “What a cold-hearted individual.” You see, personally I think Jesus did this to many people. And the reason we have the record of this one is because He wants us to see that He honors faith more than anything else!!
Jesus wasn’t attempting to be elusive. He wasn’t trying to be unreachable. He wasn’t trying to act “holier than thou.” He was actually trying to draw faith out of this woman’s heart. He wanted to see just how desperate she really was, and just how far she was really willing to go to get an answer from God. He ignored her at first, and then He refused her, and then He tried to discourage her. What a woman she was!! What a mother she was!! What a believer she was!!
You’ll remember that the Lord told her that “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” The “children’s bread” is divine healing. Divine healing would not be coming to the Gentiles for another 17 years!! Divine healing would be first introduced to the Gentiles under the ministry of Paul the apostle.
But this woman’s faith was so tenacious…she believed God loved her and would answer her. Her faith leaped over the wall of time and went 17 years into the future and grabbed ahold of the promise of divine healing to the Gentiles, and then she pulled it back into her time-frame. Spiritually speaking…she really did travel through time. She literally changed the course of her history, and the history of her daughter (a history that was already foreordained, and written down in the mind of God). Her daughter might have died in that 17 year interim.
Faith pleases God. And if God is pleased, He will stop time, He will stop the sun from moving, He will move the sundial back 10 degrees. Surely the God who invented time can do with it whatsoever He so chooses. And in this woman’s case, God took something that was 17 years into the future and granted her request…because she just simply wouldn’t give up. She made it into divine scripture for all of eternity. Her and her daughter made it into Heaven in my opinion…because when God does something for one of your children, the chances are you’ll serve Him the rest of your days.
Oh, may I have the faith of this Syrophenician woman who traveled a long distance and refused to leave God’s presence empty-handed. She came to get something for her daughter…and she ended up with a whole lot more than she originally wanted. She ended up with a relationship with Jesus built on faith, and built on love. And all because she believed that her faith could travel through time and alter history.
See you on the front lines.