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Crumbs are Enough

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:12
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This morning’s Scripture lesson is taken from Mark 7:24-30:
Mark 7:24–30 ESV
And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
The doctrine of election is one of the most troubling and controversial aspects of Biblical Christianity. Time does not permit me to address all the issues the doctrine of election raises, but from this passage I think this Syrophoenician women can teach us three very important lessons:
She Does Not Contest God’s Election,
She Places Her Faith, Not in Election, but in God’s General Call and Common Grace,
and most importantly
She Knows That Crumbs are Enough
We begin with:

She Did Not Contest God’s Sovereign Election

This Syrophoenician woman does not respond to Jesus’ reaffirming of Israel’s election as most people would. She does not say, “This is not fair” or “This is unjust” or “This is unloving”. She simply says, “Yes, Lord.”
What wisdom this woman shows. Could it be that the reason so many people have a problem with the doctrine of election is because they have already ruled it out as unfair, unjust and unloving? It is not as though the Bible is unclear concerning election, from the earliest days of Israel we read:
Deuteronomy 7:6–8 ESV
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Here we see a clear statement of what theologians call “Unconditional Election”. Israel was chosen not because of anything they had done, but purely by God’s good pleasure.
The doctrine of Unconditional Election is also taught in the New Testament. For example:
Romans 9:6–13 ESV
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
In contrast to this woman, many read passages like these and say, “No, Lord”!
Paul was familiar with this reaction, for he response to it in the very next verse:
Romans 9:14–16 ESV
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
If any of the attempts to explain away unconditional election were true, Paul would have surely used them here, but he does not. What does he do? He doubles down on God’s freedom and right to chose whom He wills, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Are you saying, “No Lord,” not only concerning what the Bible teaches concerning election, but anything else? Think of all the churches in America that are saying, “No, Lord,” to what the Bible teaches concerning male leadership? Think of all the professing Christians who are saying, “No, Lord,” to what the Bible teaches concerning marriage and sex. Think of all the people who are saying, “No, Lord” to what the Bible teaches concerning disciplining and raising our children in the Lord. This list could go on, but I think you get the idea. We have an epidemic of people saying, “No, Lord,” in the church.
What is the consequence of saying, “No, Lord”? What if this woman had said, “No, Lord”? If she had, that would have been the end of the story. She would have gone home angry at Jesus and when she got there she would have found her daughter was still possessed by an unclean spirit.
Rather than saying, “No, Lord.” She said, “Yes, Lord,” and she appealed to Christ for mercy not on the basis of election, but on the basis of God’s General Call and His Common Grace.

She Trusted in God’s General Call and Common Grace

While it is true that some Jews referred to Gentiles as “dogs” in a derogatory way, clearly Jesus did not mean it this way. He was using the imagery of a beloved family pet. Of course, we love our children more than our pets, but this does not mean we are “unloving,” “unmerciful” or “unkind,” to our pets. In fact, the exact opposite is true, we dearly love our pets. One only has to look at the billion dollar pet industry for confirmation of this.
God’s Common Grace is His benevolent love and care for every person. Jesus spoke of Common Grace when He said:
Matthew 5:44–45 ESV
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Because God loves all people, both Jews and Gentiles so much, He call all people to repent and believe. Paul said this to the Athenians.
Acts 17:30–31 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
This “call” that goes out generally to all people is what theologians call The General Call. When writing of the coming judgement, which we just heard Paul speak of, Peter writes:
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
This general love that God has for everyone is plan to see, not only in creation, but in His Word: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Seeing this love all around her, and especially in the person of Jesus who stood before her, this woman boldly said:
Mark 7:28 ESV
But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
This brings us to the final and most important lesson this woman teaches us:

She Knew, “Crumbs are Enough!”

Too many people use the Biblical Doctrine of Election as an excuse for unbelief and rebellion against God and His Word. They say, “What’s the point of believing in Jesus if I am not elect?” or they will say, “I can’t really believe God will save me, until I know I am elect.”
What a foolish thing to say. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to trust in our election. We are always told to trust in God and His promises, and what is His promise concerning salvation? Paul said this to the Philippian jailor:
Acts 16:31 ESV
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
God is still saying this to every man, woman and child. Don’t get hung up on whether or not you are elect, Crumbs are Enough!
I don’t think it was an accident that the story of the Syrophoenician Women occurs in between the stories of the Feeding of the 5000 and the Feeding of the 4000. In both stories, a few loaves and a few fish were all that were necessary to feed a multitude. In the first feeding, the disciples gathered up twelve baskets full of crumbs! In the second feeding, the disciples gathered up seven baskets full of crumbs! Clearly, Mark wants his readers to understand that with Jesus, Crumbs are Enough!
Perhaps you have become bitter at God because all you feel He has thrown your way are crumbs. Learn from the wisdom of this woman, put away your bitterness and replace it with faith, because with Jesus, Crumbs are Enough!
Let us pray.
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