And at that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus. And he said to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he's risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, and the daughter of Herodias danced before him, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist's head in a charger. So the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded that it be given to her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus (14:1-12).
Here we have the story of Herod and the beheading of John the Baptist. He was called Herod Antipas; he was the son of Herod the Great. The word “tetrarch” means the ruler over a fourth part. When Herod the Great died, he had many sons, but three of them were given rule over part of the territory that Herod the Great once governed. Herod Antipas, the one who had beheaded John the Baptist, was married to the daughter of a Nabatean king, Areta.
And He went to Rome were he visited his brother Philip, Herod Philip, and there he fell in love with Philip's wife. And he enticed her to leave his brother, and to return with him as his wife. But in order to do this he had to then divorce Areta, the daughter of the Nabatean king, which he did. And he took Herodias as his wife.
Now John the Baptist spoke out against that. John the Baptist was a straight shooter. And he said it isn't lawful for you to do that. It wasn't lawful for him to put away Areta without a cause. And of course it wasn't lawful to marry his brother’s sister. So John the Baptist spoke out boldly against him, and he paid the price of incurring the displeasure of Herod, for Herod imprisoned him and would have put him to death, yet there was such a popular appeal that John had to the people. He was a little fearful of putting him to death. Josephus in his Antiquities, the historic account of the Jews, helps us in this a little bit. He said that Herod actually was desiring to put him to death, because of the tremendous popularity that John had among the people. And he was actually a little threatened by the popularity of John the Baptist.
Herodias ultimately, of course, was the downfall of Herod. She was a very cruel and cunning woman. She, of course, was upset because John had spoken out against the marriage, had a deep kind of desire for revenge. And so she allowed her daughter to dance for Herod on his birthday. Her daughter’s name was Salome. The dances were of those oriental-type, which were very suggestive, and sensuous. Salome was probably only sixteen or seventeen. And for her mother to allow her to do this, shows the fact that there was no real morality in the heart of Herodias at all, very immoral woman. And when Herod’s passions were aroused by the dance of Salome, in that moment of excitement and the applause for the dance and all, with the crowd around, he said, "ask whatever you want and I will give it to you" (Mark 6:22). And her mother Herodias had already coached her in advance that she should ask for the head of John the Baptist on a charger. And when she made this request, of course Herod wanted to back down, but he had made the promise, and so he held to it.
Now later on when Caligula became the emperor of Rome there was another son of Herod, Agrippa that he sent to reign over some of the provinces of Israel, and he gave to Agrippa the title of king. And so you remember Paul addressing him king Agrippa.
Now Herodias said to her husband Herod Antipas, look, he has the title of king. You ought also to have the title of king, because she had this desire to be known as Queen Herodias, and so this real thing in her wanting to be known as queen. She put her husband up to going to Rome to talk to the Emperor Caligula that he would give to Antipas also the title of king.
However, Herod Agrippa heard of the plan, and so he sent messages ahead to Caligula and said, hey, Antipas is not to be trusted, he is very likely to rebel against you. He is looking for position and power. And so Caligula believed the report that he received from Agrippa. And when Antipas came requesting that he receive the title of king, instead of receiving it, he had taken a lot of money with him, and she said, what's money, go and bribe him, Caligula, for this title of king. Caligula took the money, but he banished Antipas to Gaul.
And so that was the end of his ambition. And that was the end of Herod Antipas, he and Herodias. Caligula said, look, you can stay here if you want. But she said, no, I'll be with my husband. That's the only honorable thing she did. So she was banished with him to Gaul. The end of this man, who fought the prophet of God, because the prophet had enough courage to speak out against his sin, had him imprisoned.
And so we read of the death of the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist. And when Herod heard of all that Jesus was doing, though he had put John the Baptist to death, his conscience was probably still troubling him. And he said, "this is John the Baptist, he's raised from the dead, and that's why he can do this marvelous works" (14:2). He no doubt really believed that John the Baptist was indeed a true prophet.
So now in verse thirteen,
When Jesus heard of this [horrible atrocity against John. It no doubt shocked Him.], and he went by ship into a desert place apart (14:13):
Desert, not meaning desert like the Mojave, or Sahara, but a deserted place, because there really isn't any real desert around the Sea of Galilee, but there are places that are deserted, or uninhabited. And so He went to one of the uninhabited areas there across the Sea of Galilee, over on the opposite side of the sea, there were several sort of deserted areas.
So when the people had heard that he was leaving, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And when Jesus went forth (14:13-14),
So He got around the other side, and here was a great multitude of people waiting for Him. Now the Sea of Galilee is only eight miles across. And from the area of Capernaum, if you cross over to the area there, Bethsaida there, it isn't really that far, and you can watch a little boat go all the way across. So as they are taking off for Capernaum, it's easy to tell which direction they are going. They just watch which direction they are going, and then the people run around the upper end of the lake, and then they’ll be there waiting of Him, when He got to the other side.
This must have been difficult. Here you’re troubled, because of this horrible atrocity, and you’re wanting to get alone for just a little bit, to sort of put things together, get things in perspective. And so you try to get off alone, and have just a little time to wait upon God, and to pray, and to sort of get yourself collected, and you get to the other side, and here is the whole multitude of people waiting there for you. Now it would have been very easy for Jesus to have been brusque and say, look I came over to get a rest, can't you leave me alone? And I know so many people who have a great ministry today who might do just that.
But Jesus when he saw the great multitude, was moved with compassion toward them (14:14),
Oh, God give us a heart for the ministry, like Jesus. That whenever we see the people, rather than feeling; oh, no, why did they have to come here? Don't they know I want to be alone? That whenever we meet them, we are moved with compassion towards them. God give us a heart of compassion towards the needs of people.
And the needs of people always moved the heart of Jesus with compassion. He could not see a needy person without being moved with compassion towards them.
and he healed their sick (14:14).
Now many of these people were not really seeking Him. All they were seeking was help, the healing of their sick. And it would be very easy to sort of jump on the crowd, and to needle them, and get after them. All you want is the benefits. You really don't want to make the commitment. And that was so true. But Jesus never chided them. He never got on them. He just went ahead and ministered to them freely. And I love Him for that.
Now when it was evening, his disciples came to him, and they said, This is a deserted place, and the time is now past; you better send the multitude away, that they might go into the villages, and buy themselves some food. But Jesus said unto them, They don't need to depart; give them to eat. And they said unto him, We only have five loaves, and two fish. And he said, Bring them to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and he took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven he blessed, and he broke, and he gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled (14:15-20):
The word “filled” in Greek is glutted, that would be a more appropriate translation. They all ate and were stuffed.
And they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside the woman and children (14:20-21).
So here is that recording of the marvelous multiplication of the loaves and the fishes to feed the five thousand. Now there are those who have difficulty with miracles, and so when they read this story they try to read into it, a plausible explanation to remove the miraculous from it.
We are told that these five loaves and two fish came from a little boy, who probably when he told his mother I want to go over and see Jesus, she packed him a lunch. And so when the multitude was there, they said, Lord, you better send them away, that they might buy food. And He said, no, they are hungry, they might faint in the way, let's feed them. And they said, if we had several thousand dollars worth of bread we couldn't feed this crowd. Jesus said, what do you have? And Andrew said there is a little kid over here with five loaves and two fish, but what's that to a multitude like this? And so the little boy came, and gave his five loaves and his two fishes to Jesus and He then blessed them, and broke the bread, and distributed.
And there are those who explain, that in those days, they wore these long robes and they had sleeves that tied at the wrist. And quite often people carried bread and fish in their sleeves. And that when everybody was hungry, and they all knew when they were hungry, everybody was so selfish, none was willing to share their own little lunch that they had tied in their sleeves.
But when the little boy came forth, and offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes, everyone was so touched and moved, by the beautiful example of this little child. They all untied their sleeves, and shared with each other and there was really enough there, that they could gather twelve baskets full, after everybody had eaten. And so it was the touching example of a little child, that moved the multitude. And isn't that a beautiful story. God has got a hot place for men who try to mess with the Word.
And immediately Jesus constrained the disciples to get into a ship, and go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away (14:22).
So He said to the disciples and all, go ahead, get in the boat and go over to the other side. I'll send the multitude away.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come He was there alone (14:23).
Now notice this, I think this is important to know. It had been an extremely hard day. Jesus had received the news of horrible atrocity, His cousin John had been beheaded by Herod. And He felt it sort of imperative to just get alone for a while. So He got into the ship with the disciples, and they headed over to the other side.
But the people seeing the direction that they were going, run around the upper part of the Galilee, and meet Him when the ship landed. And here was the multitude. And Jesus spends the day ministering to them. He is weary emotionally, because of what had happen to John. No doubt weary physically by ministering to these people, being pressed by them all the day long up until the evening. He feeds them and then He sends them away, as the disciples are heading back. Hard day, troubling news, physically exhausted, time to really flake out, but instead He went up into a mountain apart to pray. Oh, the importance that prayer had in the life of Jesus.
Now if He being the Son of God felt the necessity to be strengthened through prayer on these kinds of occasions, how much more we, weak, failing disciples or followers of Him need to spend time in prayer, to be strengthened by God. We would say, oh, it's time to really get a rest. I really need to get a nap. I really need to get my strength. But instead He went up, and spends the evening, the night in prayer according to another gospel. But prayer was His place of strength. He discovered it to be a place of great strength. Even as you can discover that prayer is a place of great strength indeed.
And so when the evening was come He was there alone.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, and it was tossed by the waves: for the wind was contrary (14:24).
Coming from the side of Gennesaret, back across the sea, there is that valley that comes into the Sea of Galilee, from the Mediterranean where, when they get these storms, it usually blows in through that Chinnereth Valley. And so in coming back, you're coming against that wind that comes howling through that valley. And so the disciples were faced with this dismal prospect of trying to row against the wind and against the flow of the wind-whipped waves, because they were heading back towards the area of Capernaum. And so they were in the midst of the sea. And they were being tossed with the waves, for the wind was coming from that direction of the Mediterranean.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. [That is almost morning.] And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It's a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. [An impulsive] Peter answered, Lord, if it is you, bid me to come to you on the water. And Jesus said, Come on. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and he began to sink, and he cried, saying, Oh, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, why did you doubt? (14:25-31)
Amazing story, isn't it? How that Peter was able for a time to walk on the water, and it would appear that he could walk on the water, as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But suddenly, maybe a wave crashed, splashing his face and he looked around and, oh, what am I doing out here? And he started to sink. "Lord, save me." I can hear Jesus chuckle, as He said, "oh, oh, you of little faith”. What happened to you? You started well, what happened to you Peter? “Oh ye of little faith."
I think that the lesson is keeping our eyes upon the Lord. I think that is so important for us. It is so easy for us to get our eyes on our circumstances. And we start looking around and the boisterous waves; we start looking at our problems. We start looking at our situations and we begin to sink. Because every one of us are faced with daily situations that can really sink us, if we really get into it. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord, who is the Master over the sea, over the waves, over the winds. And looking at Jesus he was able to walk for a ways on the water. Getting his eyes off Jesus and on the waves, he began to sink. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus we can walk on the water, so to speak.
Now to me it's great that when Peter started to sink he knew where to call. "Lord, save me." I've been in the same boat. Man, how many times I've cried, "Oh Lord, save me." And the graciousness of Jesus. “Oh thou of little faith”. Why did you doubt Peter? You're doing all right.
And when they had come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth, thou art the Son of God (14:32-33).
They just had seen such a tremendous demonstration of His divine powers.
And when they were gone over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out unto all the country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased (14:34-35);
And Gennesaret is there. It is Chinnereth, or Gennesaret. It's the name of that valley coming from the area of the Mediterranean aqua area.
And they besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole (14:36).
Now Jesus did not have some kind of magic garment that if you touch it, you would be healed. The healing took place in each case because of the faith of that person. And the touching of His garment was the point for them to release their faith. There is sort of a passive kind of faith, if such a thing can exist. A believing that God can do it, knowing that God can do it, being fully persuaded and assured that God can do it.
And I think that we all probably fit in that category who believe in God. We know that God can do anything. And I am faced with some malady or whatever, and someone says, "Well, God can heal you.” Yes, I know that is true, I don't doubt that. I go to the hospital and I see these people in critical condition. The doctors have given them up, and I say, "Well, God can heal you," and I believe that. I believe God can do anything. But there is something to activating that faith, to where it is not, I believe that can heal you, but that I believe that God will heal you now, that moment when faith is activated to receive that touch, or healing from God.
And I think that this touching of the hem of His garment created a point of contact for those people to release their faith. In other words, in their minds they were saying I know that the moment I touch the hem of His garment, I'll be healed. And that was so in their minds, that the moment they were able to grab the hem of His garment, they released the faith, and it was no longer just a passive, I know God can, but I know that God is. And in that moment, release their faith to take then at that moment their healing, and the moment they activated, or released the faith, they were healed.
There were many things in the New Testament that formed points of contact for the releasing of faith. And Jesus actually established more or less points of contact on various occasions. When He put mud in the blind man’s eyes, and said, "Now go and wash up the mud, as soon as you wash it out, you can see" (John 9:6-7). The man believed that the minute I can wash this mud out, I am going to see. And it was a point of contact for the releasing of his faith.
In the Old Testament, when the prophet Elisha told Naaman to go dip in the River Jordan seven times, when you come up from the seventh time, you're going to be healed, it was a point of contact for the releasing of faith (2 Kings 5:10). In the Book of Acts they sent out from Paul handkerchiefs, or more literally sweatbands, and his aprons, and they would lay them on the sick, and the people would be healed. Peter, when he was walking down the street, they would set the sick in the way, so that his shadow would fall on them, and the shadow of Peter falling on them was a point of contact. People said, oh I know as soon as Peter’s shadow falls on me, oh I am going to be healed. And they had that point of releasing faith (Acts 5:15).
And somehow we need be able to release the faith, so it will become activated. So I know that as soon as it will happen, and it's a point of contact to release the faith, and there is a valuable lesson there.
Then came to Jesus Scribes and Pharisees, which were from Jerusalem (15:1),
Hey, these guys had come a long way to challenge Him. They came all the way from Jerusalem clear up to Galilee, which was about a journey of over a week from Jerusalem to Galilee. So they came up to the Galilee and they said,
Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? (15:2)
Now the Jews of course had the written law. But on top of the written law, they had developed the oral traditions. And these oral traditions many times actually superseded the law. As traditions have a way of becoming so imbedded in our being, that it's harder to break traditions then almost anything else. And Jesus was not one to conform to traditions. He was not in any wise a traditionalist. Of course, they also had the Talmud, the several volumes of the amplification and explanation of the law. So in it many, many traditions.
"So why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?
For they don't wash their hands before they eat bread (15:2).
Now from this, don't immediately conclude that they are a bunch of dirty slobs. According to the tradition, there were many things that could make a person unclean. But this uncleanness was a ceremonial uncleanness, which if you were ceremonial unclean, you could not enter into the temple. And many things could make you ceremonially unclean. If you would touch anything that was unclean, you became unclean. Now if you touched anything that was touched by something unclean, you became unclean.
And to them Gentiles were unclean. And if a Gentile walked across the dusty road, and you would walk across, and the dust that his foot touched would become unclean, because he was an unclean Gentile, and thus if you walked in the same dust, you became unclean because you touched the unclean dust that was made unclean by a Gentile, who walked over it.
There were certain foods that if you ate them would make you unclean. And so this business of washing became quite a tradition. And there were certain ways by which you had to wash in order that you might insure that you were cleansed from all of the dust or impurities, or the unclean things that you might have come in contact with. And you had to do this before you touched your food; else your food would be unclean. And when you ate it, you would become unclean because you were eating unclean food.
So they had the traditional ceremony for washing, and you would have to hold out your hands in an upright manner. And they would pour water over your hands as you rubbed your hands back and forth, up and down, and the water had to drip off of the wrist, because the water is now unclean, because it's touching whatever was unclean on your hands. And you got to make sure the water doesn't fall on you. So you hold it out and up, so that the water drips off your wrist, and doesn't hopefully run up your arm or that portion of your arm would be unclean.
Having then poured the water over, and washing your hands in this upright manner, then because the dirty water from your unclean fingers has come down over your hands, you've got to get rid of that. So you put your hands down next, and they pour water over the top of your hands, as you're rubbing your hands in a downward manner. And then finally rubbing your fingers together, as water is poured over, to get rid of all the uncleanness.
And here with the disciples just grabbing the bread and eating it, without going through this whole little ritual. And this is what Jesus was being challenged on. "Your disciples aren't following the traditions." There is nothing in the Bible that says you got to wash your hands a particular way. And at this point Jesus is about ready to blow tradition totally out of the window. So His disciples were accused of transgressing the traditions. Not going through the ceremonial washing of their hands before they eat their bread.
But he answered and said unto them, Why do you also transgress [not the tradition, notice] but you transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (15:3)
Oh, oh, watch out now, because even within the church it is possible for us to develop certain traditions, and to get hung up on traditions, and it is also possible that many of the traditions within the church are actually a violation of the commandment of God.
There was a lady who came to church here at Calvary Chapel invited by some of her friends, and she was visiting here from Missouri. And she happened to belong to the Missouri Senad Lutheran Church, and after service she came up to me and she was shaking. She was so angry. She said, "Why didn't you face the altar when you prayed?" I mean she was really upset. And I said, "What?" She said, “When you prayed you didn't turn and face the altar. Why didn't you?" I said, "Well, I guess because I don't think Jesus lives in the altar." But the traditions you see; "Why didn't you turn towards the statue of Jesus when you prayed?" But by traditions there is the violation of the commandment of God that says, we're not to have any images.
So you see, we're not too far removed from the Pharisees and from the Jews, who allow tradition to actually develop to the point, that by the traditions there was actually a violation of the commandment of God. So they were accusing the disciples of Jesus of not keeping the traditions. Jesus said, hey, you're violating not the traditions, but the commandments of God by your traditions.
For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curses his father or mother, let him die the death. But you say, Whosoever shall say to his father or mother, it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mayest be provided by me; and he honors not his father or his mother, he shall be free. And thus you have made the commandment of God of none effect by your traditions (15:4-6).
Now the Bible says you weren't to curse your father or mother, that's the commandment of God. You're to honor them, not to curse them. But they had a tradition. If you preface your curses by saying, “look, this is for your good and your benefit, you're a dirty rotten…" It's a gift now, I am doing it for your benefit. I am telling you this for your benefit. They were free, as long as they would preface it by this is a corban and this is something by which you might be benefited.
And so Jesus points out that through their tradition they had actually made allowance for it, an actual violation of the commandment of God. And thus you've made the commandment of God of no effect by your traditions.
You hypocrites (15:7),
Jesus is pretty straight. In fact He gets so straight it's almost scary, when we move along in Matthew here.
You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draw near to me with their mouth, and they honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (15:7-9).
Now the church has developed many dogmas that they teach for doctrine, and are in the same position as were these Scribes and Pharisees in the time of Christ, who began to honor and hold traditions and the commandments of men, even over the commandments of God.
So he called the multitude, and he said unto them, Now hear, and understand this: [and here goes tradition, bombed.] It's not that which goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this is what defiles the man (15:10-11).
Call the multitude and say," listen now, here me out, it's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, it's what comes out of your mouth that defiles you." Oh boy, that is just going against that whole tradition of how you’re to eat with washed hands, and really even what you’re to eat.
So go out and enjoy a pork chop. It's not what goes into your mouth that's going to defile you, just make sure it's cooked well so all the tapeworms and the Trichinella is dead, so that you won’t become infected. Yuck. Eat shrimp. Because it's not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles a man, it's what comes out of his mouth that defiles him. This is heavy, heavy duty.
Then his disciples said unto him, Hey, Lord don't you know that they were really offended at what you said? And Jesus answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up (15:12-13).
There are plants that are growing, weren't planted by the heavenly Father, they are going to be rooted up. Just let them alone. Notice He didn't say: "go out and argue with them."
Just let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both of them will fall in the ditch. Then Peter said to him, Lord what did you mean by the parable? (15:14-15)
And the parable was it's not what goes into the man’s mouth that defiles him, but that which comes out. Peter said, "what do you mean by that Lord?"
And Jesus said, Don't you understand that whatsoever you eat goes into your belly and is cast out into the draught. [It goes through your body. It's perched.] But does things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they are the things that defile a man. For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, and murders, and adulteries, and fornications, and thefts, and false witness and blasphemies: and these are the things that defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands doesn't defile you (15:16-20).
You don't have to go through a ceremonial washing before you eat food, it doesn't defile you, it goes through your body, passes through. But what you say, what comes out of your mouth, it reveals what's in your heart. And out of the mouth the hatred, the bitterness, those things that you express, the lust, the desires, these things that are in the heart, the things expressed by the mouth, and there is the true defilement of a man.
Then Jesus went from there, and he departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon (15:21).
Now going into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon He is actually moving into the territory that is Phoenician, and thus moving out from the totally Jewish community.
And, behold, there was a woman of Canaan [a Serah-Phoenician woman] who came out, [or lived in those same areas] and she cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; for my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and they besought him, saying, Lord would you send her away; she is bugging us (15:22-23).
What they were saying is, "Lord take care of the daughter, get rid of the woman, she won’t let us alone."
But he answered and said, [no doubt in the hearing of the woman] I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him saying, Lord, help me. And he answered and said, It's not right to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs. And she said, unto him, That 's true, Lord: yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as you will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour (15:24-28).
Now as we read the translated text we have difficulty. Difficulty understanding Jesus treating a woman in this rather cold and almost insulting manner, as it would appear from our text. But let us note a few things. Number one, Jesus from the beginning knew that He was going to heal the daughter. He knows all things.
The Bible says they didn't need to testify to Jesus about anything because He knew all men. He knew what was in men. He knew what was in the heart of this woman. He knew the faith that was there, and He was drawing skillfully from her this great expression of faith that was there. And His first rebuff was that of silence. He didn't answer her at all. And over the apparent silence of Jesus, she persisted, until the disciples were so bugged by her, they said, "Lord why don't you just take care of her. She is a menace."
And Jesus, no doubt, as I say in her hearing, said, "Look, I am only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." And so she came and she worshiped him, saying, "Lord help me." Now continuing to draw her out, He said, "It isn't right to take the children's bread." That is the children of Israel, and those benefit of healing that He had brought to them. It isn't right to take that and to cast it. And here you got to be careful; there were two words for dogs. And the Jews often called the Gentile, "Gentile dog", and it was a dirty word.
Now there are no swear words in Hebrew. They have no words to swear by in Hebrew, no curse words. If a Jew wants to curse he has to curse in English. There are no curse words in Hebrew, which I think is quite fascinating. But the dirtiest thing they can call a person is a dog. They had these wild dogs that run in packs, that everybody hated. They were vicious. They were just hated. And so they would refer to usually, rather then say, he is a Gentile, they would say, "he is a Gentile dog."
But then there was another Greek word for dog, which is a little puppy, which was usually around the table as the children were eating. Now when they ate they didn't have utensils like we have, the knives, and forks, and spoon, and so the kid didn't have to learn table etiquette. But they would just pick off with their hands and you would eat with your hands. And after you were through with your meal, you would then take a piece of the bread, and you would wipe your hands off with the piece of bread. Just clean all the grease and juices off with a piece of bread. And then they usually take that piece of bread and toss it to the little puppies that were around the table.
And so it was a very common picture in the minds of the people when Jesus said, "It isn't right to take the children's bread, and to cast it to puppies." And she said, "yes, Lord, but the little puppies eat the bread that falls from the master’s table." Jesus said, oh, aha, all right. “Great is your faith." It was faith that conquered over the silence of Jesus. It was faith that conquered over the seaming reluctance of Jesus. It was faith that won. This mother was desperate.
Some of you mothers have wayward daughters. Now probably none of you would go so far as to say they are vexed by the devil, but here was a mother in real distress. And she came to Jesus and her faith triumphed. Listen, come to Jesus. Don't go away, until you've received. There was no way she was going to go until she received help. Jesus answered and said unto her, "Oh woman, great is thy faith." Interesting He said that also of the Roman Centurion and of this Serah-Phoenician woman.
And Jesus departed from there, and He came near to the sea of Galilee; and he went up into a mountain, and he sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, and blind, and dumb, and maimed, and many others, and they cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, and the lame walking, and the blind were able to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and he said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have continued with me now for three days, and there is nothing to eat: And I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And His disciples said unto him, Where should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill this great multitude? And Jesus said unto them, How many loaves do you have? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. And again they did all eat and were stuffed: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside the woman and children. And he sent away the multitude, and they took the ship, and they came to the coast of Magdala (15:29-39). Now Magdala is probably two miles south of Capernaum there in the Sea of Galilee. They have discovered the ruins of the city of Magdala from which Mary Magdalene did come. And you can see the ruins there of Magdala today. And incidentally, someone wasn't reading the Scriptures carefully and they built a church there at Magdala, that they call the Church of the Loaves and the Fishes, where they said Jesus fed the multitude. But notice He didn't come there, until after He had fed the multitude in the mountains apart from there. But it's convenient for the tour buses, and so they take you down by the Sea of Galilee there at Magdala to show you the mosaic of a church where there is loaves and fishes, and the mosaic on the floor. And they swear that this is the spot where it all happened.