“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” These are the last desperate words of a desperate woman. We read them in Matthew 15. She was looking for help for her daughter. And she knew in every fiber of her being that this man, the Son of David, could help her. Her faith clung to the only hope, the hope that the Messiah, the Son of David, Jesus Christ would save her. And she didn’t care what she got from him because she knew whatever he gave would be better than what she had right now. She knew she was a Canaanite. She knew she was unclean to the Jews. She knew her sins made her worthless. “So yes, I’m a dog. But even the dogs eat the crumbs off the floor. And that’s all I’m asking for, Jesus, just the crumbs.”
This woman understood reality. She understood her standing before God. She understood what it meant that she was unclean. That all her good acts, that all her kind words, that her entire life earned her nothing before God. How about you? When Christ tests your faith, when he causes some difficulty to occur in your life, how do you respond? Do you accuse Christ of being unfair—why me? The truth is, like this woman, you are a dog, and so am I; we deserve nothing but punishment for our sins. So why should Christ give you or me anything if this is how we are? The answer is in the mercy of Christ.
When this woman first met Jesus she cried out to him, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” This is one of the believer’s oldest prayers and we sing it almost every Sunday at the beginning of church, “Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.” When we beg for mercy, we’re asking the Lord to withhold the punishment we deserve. So we say, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Christ, have mercy on me—I deserve nothing. Lord, have mercy because you made a promise to rescue me from my sins.” Three times we call out to the Lord. Three times we beg for mercy. Three times he hears us. Just like this desperate woman who realized she was helpless without the Lord and cried out to him for mercy, we cry too. We use his name, calling on him to remember his promise, calling on him to save us. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Just the crumbs, Lord, just the crumbs.
Crumbs. All we need are the crumbs of the Lord’s mercy. The crumbs are what are left over from the meal. Do you see the picture? Even if we don’t get the main meal, the crumbs are enough for us. This is a picture of humility, a picture of a sinner who knows he’s sinful, who knows that he’s a dog, and knows he needs help. We don’t deserve anything good from God, but if he would just give us some crumbs, that would be enough. The truth is, he gives us a lot more than just crumbs. He gives us his son. He gives us Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah, our rescuer, who shed his blood to pay for our sins. He gives us Jesus, the friend of sinners, who lived a perfect life in our place. He prepares for us a feast of forgiveness and invites us to the table.
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