by Derl G. Keefer
Rev. G.B.F. Hallock tells the story about a young Toledo, Ohio bellhop in the 1930’s. After a hard day’s work he returned to his room to lie down for a much deserved nap. As he began dozing off someone knocked at his door. He didn’t want to answer the knocking and in an irritated voice yelled out, “Get away from the door and leave me alone!” The person would not go away and persisted in their knocking. Disgustedly the young man jumped out of bed, ran over to the door and jerked it open. Two men in business suits stood in front of him and asked permission to enter his room. They told him that they were lawyers and need to talk with him about a legal matter. He invited them to be seated. Once they were situated one of them pulled out some papers for the bellhop to review and sign. The attorney explained that the bellhop’s aunt had died and left the young man $25,000, a substantial sum of money in the middle of the great depression!
Today Jesus seeks entrance into every life to give good news of salvation. He invites himself to live in the heart so that He can continually give an inheritance—now!
Interesting, isn’t it, that people, like the young bellhop, yell at Jesus to “get away from the door and leave me alone.” They reject the one who holds the papers to eternity and spiritual riches beyond their comprehension!
This passage of Scripture relates an incident that demonstrates Jesus’ desire to bring hope and healing to everyone.
I. Salvation’s Message of Love is for the Jews.
From antiquity the Jewish nation anticipated the birth of a Messiah to be born amongst them. Their prophets heralded it and their literature declared the coming of a redeemer.
Why would God choose a small, rebellious, itinerant band of people as the nation that the Savior of the world would come to anyway? That’s a question only God can answer. The fact is that He did the choosing!
Why would God choose a young teenager, barely out of puberty to be the avenue of incarnation for the Savior is a question only he can answer as well, but he did the choosing!
Why would God choose a tiny, insignificant and dirty town like Bethlehem to give place for the birth of the Savior remains a mystery, but he did!
Why would God choose a people who would always fuss with Him is beyond comprehension? In spite of their constant questioning He loved them unconditionally.
Paul wrote to the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16 N.I.V.).
Salvation is the offer of God’s forgiveness to change a rebellious, unloving, stubborn, and sinful heart to be a redeemed, loving, pliable, and clean heart. Salvation is unconditional!
What the Jewish nation needed to hear was Max Lucado’s words, “If you think his love for you would be stronger if your faith were, you are wrong. If you think his love would be deeper if your thoughts were, wrong again. Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God. He loves you where you are.” They had spurned God’s love, rejected His message often, and attempted to earn His love many times by worshiping at the temple of legalism.
Though Israel was the chosen people to deliver the message and the messenger of salvation they desperately needed to hear, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
II. Salvation’s Message of Love is for the Gentile.
The Scripture text for today introduces an incident that has much more meaning than just a simple healing of a demon-possessed child. Jesus is in Gentile territory and for a Jew that was unthinkable. To converse with a Gentile and especially a woman was undesirable. Previous to this encounter with the Syro-Phoencian woman of our text, Jesus dealt with the distinction between foods that were unclean and clean for Jews. William Barclay comments, “it may well be that here Jesus is saying by implication that the Gentiles are not unclean but that they, too, have their place within the Kingdom.”
The message from the text is a call for mission. Around the world today people need to hear the message of salvation is from God’s heart through his Son Jesus! We need people who are eager to share the message that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life to a world desperate for stability and peace. The only place they can find it is in the salvation that comes from the crucified Christ. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me…What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34, 36 N.I.V.).
III. Salvation’s Message of Love has No Limit.
Lloyd Ogilvie reminds us that at the center of Christianity is the heart. “The essential purpose of our faith is to bring the heart of God, Christ himself, into touch with the heart of man, his deep inner self-man himself as he is in the inner springs of personality.”
Jesus himself is the completion of salvation. Nowhere else can salvation be found but in Jesus as He is put on the throne of a person’s heart.
Paul wrote, “…If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile---the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Rom. 10:9,12-13 N.I.V.).
“At Calvary sin received its mortal wound. There the Victim became the Victor. He fell but crushed the enemy in the fall. He died, but sin was nailed to the cross. His cross becomes the fountain of our life; His tomb, the birthplace of immortality.” (Sim A. Wilson)