Worship Helps for Pentecost 13

Title: The Canaanite Woman
Artist: Lastman
Year: 1617

Worship Theme: The Church is meant for all people. Today’s lessons teach that the gift of grace given to Israel, God also intended to give through Israel to the world. The Church is meant for all people: a display of God’s mercy and a result of the living and active Word of God.

Old Testament: Joshua 2:8-21
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death." 14 "Our lives for your lives!" the men assured her. "If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land." 15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 Now she had said to them, "Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way." 17 The men said to her, "This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear." 21 "Agreed," she replied. "Let it be as you say." So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

1. Why might the spies have chosen to enter the house of Rahab the prostitute?

2. How did Rahab protect the spies?

3. Was all of this reasonable? Was it reasonable that the spies hid in a house of prostitution? Was it reasonable that Rahab cut a deal to preserve her life? Was it reasonable that Rahab did all of this out of faith in the Lord?


Epistle: Romans 11:13-15, 28-32
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? … 28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.


4. How was Israel’s rejection of the Gospel a blessing for the world?
How was Israel’s rejection of the Gospel a blessing for the world?

5. What hope still exists for the Jewish people?


Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." 24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." 25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. 26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." 27 "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." 28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

6. Note the context of chapter 15. The children of Israel—and especially their religious leaders—found nothing but fault in Jesus of Nazareth. The chosen people of God to whom belonged the patriarchs, the promises, the covenant and the temple, could see nothing in Christ but a breaker of man-made traditions. Jesus’ words to them could not be harsher. The very people who should have been closest to Christ were most distant. So Jesus distances himself from them and goes to the Gentile land of ancient paganism, Tyre and Sidon. There he finds a most inexplicable thing. Whom did Jesus meet?

7. Not only does the woman cry out for mercy, but to whom does she cry out?
  


Answers:
1. Two young male travelers wouldn’t attract attention by entering such a house. It would be a good place in town to get information on Jericho. Rahab’s house on the city wall would be ideal for escape. Above all, the Lord led them to this house.

2. Rahab told the town officials that the spies had fled before the city gates were closed for the night. The implication was that they were returning across the Jordan to where Israel was encamped. As we will see, she sent the officials on a wild goose chase.

3. It is reasonable that spies would hide themselves in a house of prostitution. It is reasonable, too, that this prostitute Rahab tried to cut a deal to preserve her life in the face of the Israelite onslaught that the whole city knew was coming. But what reason is there that she did it out of faith in the LORD? What reason did she find to have faith in the God of free and faithful love? There is no reason for that but the unreasonable gift of God worked in her heart by the living and active Word of God. Clearly, God meant his Church to be for all people. But he didn’t stop there! What reason could there be that this foreign woman, this prostitute from a godless country, that hers would be the womb through which line of the Blessed Seed would descend? There is no reason for that at all. That can only be grace. Grace meant for all people.

4. The rejection by the people of Israel finally caused the apostles to direct their preaching instead to the Gentiles. While we do not rejoice in the loss of souls among the Jews, this new focus did bring unprecedented numbers of Gentiles into the family of God.

5. It is still God’s desire that all should be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  The amazing condition is that their very life of disobedience is an opportunity for God to extend his mercy.  The same call God gave them in the Old Testament he gives them today—God’s promises are irrevocable.

On this day celebrating faith for the Gentiles, St. Paul warns his Gentile readers against any pride on their part or prejudice against the Jews. Note the point of this Apostle to the Gentiles: he reaches out to the Gentile with the hopes of also winning the Jew. Verse 15 makes the point of our Gospel lesson. Rejection by the people of Israel meant Christ would be preached to the Gentiles. How personal this statement is for Paul! How many synagogues had he preached in, only to be cast out and make his way to the Gentiles? But yet Israel retains its dual status: enemies that are beloved. When the nation of Israel turned from its Savior God and his Messiah, God set his face against them as enemies of the Gospel. But yet God’s call and his Word of promise remain. Such is grace, that God does not love the lovable, but makes the unlovable his dear possession. Just look at what he did with the disobedient Gentiles! Both Jew and Gentile apart from Christ languish in the fearful prison called “Disobedience.” God shut them up together that locked thus, all hope and all self-help were gone. Disobedience was all they had and all they could bring forth. Only one door permits one to leave this prison, and it is inscribed: “God’s Mercy.” (R.C.H. Lenski)

6. After leaving the land of God’s chosen people, Jesus finds a woman—a Canaanite woman—who received the Word of God and trusted in God’s promises in a way that shamed every one of the religious teachers. The male leaders of God’s people failed to recognize him, but behold! Look carefully! A woman, a Canaanite woman, cries out, “Kyrie eleison!”(Lord, have mercy!)

7. She directs her cries to Jesus. She called him “Lord, Son of David,” with all of its messianic implications. How amazing is the grace of God that chooses the weak and lowly things of the world to shame the wise and proud. Only twice are we told that Jesus called someone’s faith great. Both were Gentiles, and both exhibited a God-given trust in the Word and promises of God made man.



A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 13
You can learn from the daily government of the household.  When the master of the house sees that the servant does not do what he ought, he admonishes him personally.  But if he were so foolish as to let the servant sit at home and went on the streets to complain about him to his neighbors, he would no doubt be told, “You fool, how does that concern us?  Why don’t you tell it to the servant?”  That would be brotherly, the evil would be stopped, and your neighbor would retain his honor.  Christ says, “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”  For do you think it is a small matter to gain a brother?


Christ teaches, “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses”.  So the person must always be dealt with personally, and must not be spoken of without his knowledge.  But if that does not work, then bring it publicly before the community, whether before the civil or the Church court.  For then you do not stand alone, but you have those witnesses with you by whom you can convict the guilty one.  Relying on their testimony the judge can pronounce sentence and punish. This is the right course for reforming a wicked person.  But if we gossip about another no one will be reformed.  If you were acting for your neighbor’s reformation or from love of the truth, you would not sneak about secretly. – Large Catechism, The Eighth Commandment, (paragraphs 277-281, 283)

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