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Matthew 15:21-28





Sunday Morning Sermon

December 27, 1998

Fair Avenue Baptist Church





Notice once again VERSE 28 and the phrase, “great is thy faith.”  I believe Jesus saw here a woman who had great faith.


This morning I want to speak to you on Great Is Thy Faith.”


What does it mean for a Christian, a believer, young or old, new convert or mature Christian, to have a great faith?


What constitutes a great faith?


It is interesting to see a great contrast in the Bible, in this Book of Matthew especially, between faith and unbelief, two opposites described in the Bible.


It is interesting in the Bible to see the various types of unbelief.


There is more unbelief than just the unsaved man or woman, boy or girl, who does not believe in Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour.


In fact, Jesus talked more to Christians about unbelief than He did to unsaved people about unbelief.


There are great verses in the Bible, such as Matt. 13:58, “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”


You will see in the Bible that unbelief was one of the most damaging sins in the hearts and lives of the people of God in both the Old and New Testaments.


Unbelief kept Israel out of Caanan for forty years.


Unbelief is a damaging sin.


And Jesus talked about it often.


In Matthew 16:4 unbelief expresses itself in a strange way.  Jesus said to these RELIGIOUS people, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.”


Jesus is saying to these people, “It is wicked of you to ask Me to perform a miracle, or something tangible, visible and physical, that you can see, in order to make you believe.”


And that type of unbelief is found in the hearts and lives of many of God’s people.


That is what Thomas proved in John 20:25 when he said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hands into his side, I will not believe.”


But Jesus said to him, “...blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (V. 29)


Wicked unbelief demands tangible evidence before trusting the promises of God.


There are many other types of unbelief in the Bible. 


There is indifference to God’s past blessings.  It is so easy to forget what God has done for us before.


I read something strange in Matthew 16.  Jesus was talking to the disciples about some spiritual matters, but they didn’t understand Him at all.


They got in a boat and started across the sea and forgot to take some bread.  When Jesus said, “...beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees,” they thought He was talking about them forgetting to get some bread.


But that was not what Jesus was talking about and it made Him a little angry and He said, “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” (V. 8)


“O ye of little faith.” - sounds serious!


He goes on to remind them of the miracle of feeding the five thousand, and the other feeding of four thousand.


But the disciples had already forgotten all the miracles.  Isn’t that strange?


But aren’t we just as guilty? 


When we come to a crucial time in our lives when we ought to believe, we forget all the past victories, all the answers to prayer, all the evidences of the reality of God in our lives.


But then there is this other wonderful contrast to unbelief and that is faith.


A faith that lays hold upon God against all odds and believes and trusts God to do the miraculous.


I notice from Scripture that there is a “Scale of Faith” which is very plain and evident.


In Mark 4:40 we read, “..how is it that ye have NO faith.”


Most people have “no faith,” that is, no real Bible saving faith.


In Matthew 6:30 Jesus said, “O ye of LITTLE faith.”


Notice the scale.


You start at the bottom with “no faith,”


Then you move up just a little bit to “little faith.”


And eventually you move up to “great faith,” as we read about this woman in Matthew 15.


And that is where we need to be as we move into a new year - “great faith.”


This woman had “great faith.”




It was great for five reasons.


It Was Great,




This woman was not religious.  She was not one of the chosen ones, she was not a Jew.


She lived over in Tyre and Sidon.


She was a Caananite, a Syrophenician woman.


She was outside of the race of people to whom God had said would come the Messiah, the blessing, the word, the truth.


Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek.”


She was a heathen.


And she had absolutely no right, none whatsoever, to ask God for anything.


Here is this woman,

even before Calvary,

before the age of grace,

demanding something of Jesus.


NOW, that took faith.


You don’t realize just how much faith that took!


She had great faith because of who she was.


The Samaritan woman at the well even said to Jesus, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” (John 4:9)


But here comes a mother, a heathen Syrophenician woman, saying, “Jesus, I want something from You.”


No one who stood there that day believed she would get anything from Jesus.


Because of who she was, it took great faith.


Jesus talked so plainly to her.  “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs (meaning Gentiles).”


This woman readily admitted that she was a dog, a Gentile, when she said, “Yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”


She was saying, “I am going to believe that I can get the mercy of God until I get it.”


It was a great faith because of who she was.


One great thing has to happen before God honors faith, and that is an absolute unbelief and distrust in one’s self.


You can’t believe in yourself and believe in God and have faith at the same time.


You have to believe that it is “not I, but Christ.”


There must be an absolute resignation from self.


This woman admitted she was just a dog, but “yet dogs get the crumbs.”


No one can have his faith honored unto there is an absolute distrust in self, and a trust and faith in the power of God alone.


So, this woman’s faith was great because of who she was.


Her faith was great,

1.       Because of who she was




Faith is not something you work up.


Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”


Faith does not live under circumstances.


Faith lives on a higher plane.


And faith can only come from one source - from the Word of God.


We see it in our story in Matthew 15.


The woman’s faith was great because it came from the right source.


In the parallel account in Mark 7:25, “For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, HEARD of him, and came and fell at his feet.”


She “heard of him.”


That goes right along with Romans 10;17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”


You and I will never have a strong faith apart from this Book.


Make light of it,

Leave it out of your life,

Disregard it,

Do not emphasize it,

And you will be weak in faith.


But if you meditate on it, you will have a strong faith.


It won’t come any other way.


This woman’s faith was great because it came from the right source.


Her faith was great:

1.       Because of who she was

2.       Because it came from the right source




Here is a woman who came asking for something for one of her children.


Dr. Tom Malone says he is amazed at the emphasis in the Bible placed on “household salvation.”


When the Philippian jailer said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, AND THY HOUSE.” (Acts 16:30-31)


There is a faith that not only leads to your salvation but a faith that reaches out and embraces every member of your household.


What a sweet and mighty heavenly revival would come to our churches if our families would become burdened about the members of their own household who are lost.


Here is a woman whose faith was great because it demanded the salvation of her child.


If you have the kind of religion that makes you happy and lets you come to church while your family is going to hell, you do not have the kind that I have.


Her faith was great:

1.       Because of who she was

2.       Because it came from the right source

3.       Because it demanded the salvation of one of her children




It is sometimes very easy to trust God, isn’t it?


We are sitting in church,

We are in good health,

Our needs are supplied,

The sun is shining in our lives.


But wait unto the winds blow,

Wait until the trials come,

Then where is your faith?


The faith of this Syrophenician woman did not waver in the face of difficulties.


What difficulties?


A.      Jesus didn’t speak to her


“Be he answered her not a word.” (V. 23)


He didn’t even speak to her when she spoke to Him. 


That would have sent most of us of the run.  Not this woman.  She just kept hanging on.


B.      The disciples had a bad attitude


“Send her away.” (V. 23)


That would have been it for most of us.


If you keep your eyes on people, you will not have any faith, AND YOU DON’T DESERVE ANY.


There will always be people who will not encourage your faith.


These disciples said, “Send her away.”


They didn’t care what she wanted.


So, we have the silence of Christ,

The bad attitude of the disciples,

That would have done it for most of us.


I wish my faith were stronger.

I wish it were ten thousand time stronger.

I wish I had the faith of Dr. Ron Gearis or Dr. Jack Hyles or Dr. Jim Vineyard.


But here is a woman with great faith.


Here is a woman that is spite of all obstacles said, “I’m not giving up.”


At a time and moment when most of us would have quit, she said, “Lord, help me.” (V. 25)


That kind of faith is what God wants us to have.


The kind of faith that laughs at impossibilities and cries out, “It shall be done.”


The faith of the Syrophenician was great because it did not waver in the face of difficulties.


Her faith was great:

1.       Because of who she was

2.       Because it came from the right source

3.       Because it demanded salvation of one of     her children

4.       Because her faith did not leave her in face   of difficulties




If we studied more carefully we would find that Jesus walked FIFTY miles to where He met this woman.


And can you show me any other reason why He went there?


He knew what was going to happen all the time.


When He said, “I can’t give bread to the dogs,” I think He was saying, “If she only knew what was going to happen.”


And He rewarded her faith.


Her little girl was saved and cured.


Wouldn’t you have like to see that mother and daughter going home?


It is quite possible that for the first time they were able to walk together normally, hand in hand.


And as the mother walked along I’ll bet she was thinking, “I got what I went after.”


And that is great faith.


Let me encourage you with two verses, Hebrews 10:35, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.”


Ladies and gentlemen, don’t quit believing.


Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”


Sometimes your faith will be tried, just as surely as you are sitting here right now.


Sorrow will come to everyone.


But remember that God loves you.

Let that encourage your faith.


Become a Christian of “great faith.”


“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: but it unto thee even as thou wilt.  And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  (V. 28)

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