Saved Souls and Crazy Faith

WELCOME back to our deep dive in Matthew.

Today, I want to preach the simple yet profound message: “Multiply your blessings for others.”

In August 2020, a huge explosion rocked Lebanon. An old rusty warehouse filled with a chemical used for fertilizer blew up like a nuclear bomb, killed 137 persons, wounded 5,000, and destroyed countless homes. The Governor of Beirut said it “destroyed half of the capital of Lebanon” and “disfigured their city”.

After investigation, they discovered that this chemical used for fertilizer had been sitting in the warehouse for the past six years.

Kept. Shelved. Stored. Hidden.

There’s really something wrong with keeping stuff for too long.

I’m using this story as an analogy.

Fertilizer, if scattered in a little field, will not cause destruction and death. It will cause flourishing and fruitfulness. It will create a huge harvest for everyone.

Here’s my message: Blessings are not designed to be kept but to be
scattered, so that they multiply and bless the world.

Don’t keep your blessings to yourself. Selfishness is dangerous.

Sooner or later, you will explode and harm the people around you.

This is what our Bible story is all about today…

Was Jesus Rude?

I’m really excited today because we’ll unpack a very controversial story. In this little tale, Jesus acts like a big snob. Harsh. Insensitive. Rude. Worse, he spoke like a racist. If this is the first time you’re hearing this story, I bet you’ll cringe.

Are you ready to feel uncomfortable?

Let’s begin…

Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. (v.21) That meant He was now entering into Gentile or Non-Jewish territory.

Next: A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” 23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. (v.22- 23) Isn’t this odd? In the previous chapters, we read how Jesus healed hundreds of the sick. Why is He being snobbish here?

But notice how the reaction of the disciples was even worse: Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging. (v.23)

Notice the very disturbing answer Jesus gave her: Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” (v.24) Wait. What? Isn’t Jesus for everyone?

Just to refresh your memory, seven chapters before this, Jesus said: And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west— and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (8:11-12)

Let’s begin…

Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. (v.21) That meant He was now entering into Gentile or Non-Jewish territory.

Next: A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” 23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. (v.22- 23) Isn’t this odd? In the previous chapters, we read how Jesus healed hundreds of the sick. Why is He being snobbish here?

But notice how the reaction of the disciples was even worse: Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging. (v.23)

Notice the very disturbing answer Jesus gave her: Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” (v.24) Wait. What? Isn’t Jesus for everyone?

Just to refresh your memory, seven chapters before this, Jesus said: And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west— and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (8:11-12)

Jesus said that. Yet He’s now saying something else. What’s happening? There’s more than meets the eye here. That’s why you should NEVER read a story, pluck it out from chapter, or the book, or the entire Bible—or you’ll get it all wrong.

This Girl Is Unstoppable!
Let’s continue with this uncomfortable story.

After being rebuffed by Jesus, the Gentile woman didn’t stop: But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” (v.25)

The next line is what will make you cringe: Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” (v. 26) Jesus rejected her again—and how? Through an insult. If I listen with modern ears, Jesus called her entire race “dogs”. What a racist remark. During that time, religious Jews really
called Gentiles dogs.

But the woman didn’t give up. She tried a third time: She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” (v.27) So here’s what she did. She swallowed the insult and used it to get what she needs from Jesus.

And finally, Jesus replied in the way we always expect Him to reply: “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. (v.28)

My big question: Where was the all-embracing, “I love you” Jesus at the start of this story? That guy was not my Jesus. In Tagalog, Nasapian ba siya? I say this because Jesus had other encounters with other Gentiles—and He wasn’t like this.

He loved them, healed them, cared for them.

Are you ready for the answer? (Drumroll please…)

A Standard Tool in the Prophet’s Toolbox
This is Prophetic Theatre.
Modern people won’t get this, but ancients would. Because this was a standard tool in a Prophet’s Toolbox. Oh, I wish I have time to tell you how the great Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea used crazy wild theatre in proclaiming their message.

Truth: Jesus was playing hard-to-get–to spotlight this beautiful unstoppable Gentile girl who wanted to grab God’s blessing for Israel for herself—
even if she wasn’t a Jew. Why? This is a “design pattern” that Matthew planted at the very start of his Gospel. Matthew already introduced to us this crazy idea of unstoppable Gentile women who run after God’s blessing.

In Chapter one, he wrote a very controversial genealogy of Jesus. Ancient genealogies should never contain women. None! It must be all male. And if it’s a Jewish genealogy, definitely, no Gentile women. Horrors if they’re included.

But Matthew’s genealogy contains four of them: Rahab, Ruth, Tamar, and Bathsheba. And their stories were extra spicy. Scandalous. I can’t go into details now, but each of their stories is about an unstoppable Gentile woman who pushed, crawled, and clawed her way to grab Israel’s blessing.

Our story gets even more exciting…

Do You Want Scraps or Baskets Full of Blessing?

Remember how the Gentile woman asked Jesus: “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” (v.27, emphasis mine)

She was asking for scraps of bread.

Ha. In the end, she gets more than scraps.

She gets seven large baskets full of bread—not for herself—but for all her Gentile people. Because right after, Jesus heals hundreds, and then multiplies bread for four thousand men, not counting women and children.

Why is this significant? After the multiplication, the Bible says: Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. (v.37)

Matthew’s Gospel contains two multiplication stories.

Just a chapter ago, in the first multiplication story, Jesus fed 5,000 men. Important: All of those were Jews. That’s why there were 12 baskets of leftover bread, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel.

In the second multiplication story, Jesus fed 4,000 men–All of them were Gentiles. That’s why there were 7 baskets of leftover food, symbolizing the 7 Gentile areas around Israel.

Here’s the Message: Jesus is bread for both Jews and Gentiles.
Jesus is for everyone.
Jesus is for you.
I don’t know who you are or where you came from.
It doesn’t matter.
Jesus loves you.
And Jesus is what you need.
Jesus wants to bless you now.
Open your heart to Him. In this amazing story, Matthew was also declaring, “Jesus is fulfilling God’s original idea when He called Israel.”

When God first called Abraham to birth the nation of Israel, listen to His words: “I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others…. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2, 3b NLT)

God blessed Israel to bless even her enemies!

But hasn’t this always been God’s modus operandi?

He blesses one person so that this person can bless the world.
That’s the purpose of a blessing.
Not to keep it but to multiply it for others.
So I tell you again, “Multiply your blessing for others!” May God Disturb You Today?

Let me ask a disturbing question: Are you fighting for others?

I didn’t ask, “Are you fighting others?” That’s easy. All of us will shout, “Yes! My boss!” or “My mother-in-law!” or “My husband!”

Let me repeat my question: Are you fighting for others? Are you living for something bigger than your own wants? Are you dreaming, struggling, working to serve others?

Face it. We’re usually wrapped up in our own little worlds, worried with our own little problems, preoccupied with our own little hurts.

But that’s not WHO YOU ARE. You’re not designed that way. That’s not how God made you. You’re called for bigger things. That’s why so many people are miserable today. We’re not fulling our original design. God will bless you. No doubt about it. But will you keep those blessings in a warehouse of selfishness, or will you scatter your blessings in a field, multiply those blessings and create a huge harvest for others?

Today, God is calling you: “Multiply your blessings for others.” And yes. Be like that Gentile woman. Be unstoppable. Run after God’s blessings. God will not just give you scraps, He will give you more than enough to feed the multitudes.

Go to Jesus now.

Press hard. Run after Him.

He has a blessing for you.

But more than that, He will ask you to work with Him to bless the world and build His Kingdom here and now.

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