This reflection was prompted by Linda from our fellowship, who a few weeks ago sent me some thoughts from Matthew 15:21-28 about the Syrophoenician woman that Jesus met in the Region of Tyre and Sidon. The story is that the woman’s daughter was demon-possessed and her mother came to Jesus to ask Him for help. He replied that He shouldn’t give the children’s food (God’s people’s food) to the little dogs that fight for scraps under the table (meaning to a gentile)! She replied that this was true but even the little dogs are allowed to eat the crumbs – meaning she would be happy with the crumbs!
Linda pointed out that the bread that Jesus talked about (“It’s not good to take the Children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs”) was the same on the table as were the crumbs underneath it (the woman replied “Yes Lord yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table”). The crumbs were still bread – they would still feed the hungry and do the job.
This first of all reminded me of the parable of the sower where Jesus told a story about a sower sowing seed (Luke 8). As he threw the seed from the basket it went everywhere – onto the path, into beds of thistles, onto stony ground and onto good ground. The same applies to the seed in this parable as to the bread that He spoke about to the Syrophoenician woman. Like the bread the seed, which stands for the Word of God, is the same no matter what ground it falls on: thorns, the pavement, stony ground or good ground. The seed is the same. It is the Word of God. The difference is not in the Word received but the heart of the hearer. In a repentant, softened, receiving, prepared heart the Word grows and bears fruit. In an unprepared heart there is a different response and there is no fruit.
So, with the bread – on the table or under the table it was still bread – the difference was in the heart of the recipient. Jesus was not being cruel or needlessly obstructive to the woman – He was giving her bread in a way that would release her immense faith and spirit.
Now she could have despised the bread on the floor but He knew her and what she needed. There was the opening for her heart’s desire – a crack in the door offered by Jesus – and she was through. She didn’t care where the bread was, she was after it in a shot! She had waited for this ever since she had heard of Him, she had desired this with her whole heart. She laid aside all restraint and burst through. “Lord – I am pleased with the bread on the floor”!
Here is hunger set out for us all to see! We wait on the edges until everything is right in our minds and hearts – the right speaker, the right meeting, the right tone, the right feeling, the right time of day, the right interpretation of scripture! What? Bread off the floor how could Jesus possibly be giving us this? (What! - The filthy river Jordan Naaman had said (2 Kings 5) – and we might walk away and miss it. Let’s not do that beloved, lets abandon our constraints – the baggage that crowds in on us and recognise that it is Jesus who offers us the chance to eat! Jesus offers us the chance to eat – bread that is of His very substance. Are we hungry enough to eat off the floor? Or are we distracted by the setting? What if we really abandoned who we are in pursuit of Jesus – all of our thinking, all of our constraints about what we think and feel is the way that we should receive God and just be hungry enough to eat off the floor?
Now we have been restricted by the Corona Virus lockdown – not in fancy meetings full of good singing and great speakers – we often haven’t even been able to see each other when we do calls by telephone, BUT Jesus is here right now – with each one of us with bread – will we receive it? Will we receive Him even though there are many things about this situation that we would change if we could? Have we faith to believe and know these are just the circumstances in which Jesus wants to meet us and for us to partake of Him?
So, in the breaking of bread (Communion / Eucharist) we agree together as His Church that the ‘bread’ and ‘wine’ that are before us are consecrated as representing Him and His offering for us 1 Corinthians 10 v 16: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread”. In essence we identify ourselves fully with Him and partake of Him – His very substance. Not the actual flesh and blood of the crucified Lord but the very substance of our risen Saviour. In doing this, we show that we are His people – born out of His offering for us (the torn offering for sin and the blood ransom for our souls) – and bearing witness of His victorious work on the cross until He returns.
In doing this together, we become like one loaf – though we may be separated by distance it is no distance at all. We are united in His Spirit as close as the grains in the bread. We are letting go our thoughts and agendas to agree that in this moment He is the only one that matters – even though He gets us all to kneel on the floor and pick up crumbs of bread we will do it because He is above everything:
* Our sin, our pride, our dearest thing
* Our sense of worth, our reputation, whatever it is we rely on,
* Our intellect, our need to be better than the next person
* Our need to be a teacher not a learner
* Our need to be different or our need to fit in
* Our need to lead not follow, our need to follow and not lead
* Our need to be humble even - Jesus is worth abandoning everything for, and as we abandon everything and draw near to Him, He draws near to us and starts to feed us. Suddenly the bread on the floor becomes the gateway to the deepest desires of our hearts that He placed there from the foundation of the world.
Let us receive Him when we partake. Let our focus be Him, let us be hungry for Him. Let us realise that when He said “with desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you” His mind was not only on the original disciples but also on us - giving us not a ritual but a way to partake of Him and His very substance today. Let us desire this as He desired to make this act of communion available to us.
So where does our ongoing theme of “abiding” fit in (John Chapter 15)? If we have been responding to Him at this time and His call to abide in Him, our hearts will be prepared for this challenge. Sometimes there might be a test of faith involved – or a humbling process to address the way that we see ourselves? Do we see ourselves at the head of the table or prepared to sit wherever and wait for “leftovers” if necessary? What if the Lord puts obstacles in our way before we can partake of the meal? God led the Israelites to the fear and panic of being trapped by the Red Sea before deliverance came. Jesus led over 5000 people into the Judean wilderness for 3 days and they were hungry enough to faint before He told the disciples to feed them “You give them something to eat” He said. Then He was asleep in a storm on Galilee strong enough for the waves to start to fill the boat: “Why have you so little faith”, He asked?
But if we are living and walking as He wants us to, our abiding in Him and His words abiding in us, will mean that our hearts are fertile ground for His good seed and our souls are humbled to receive bread from Him – even if it means getting down on the floor and picking up the bread. If this is the case it seems that we won’t be on the floor for long! The Syrophoenician woman didn’t even make it to the floor! Jesus’s words – “great is your faith – let it be to you as you desire” met her even as she stooped for the bread He offered. Jesus went all of the way over to Tyre to meet her there – He had an appointment with this dear lady to see faith released, deliverance brought, the works of the evil one overturned and glory go to the Father. What a yield of fruit from a willingness to get under the table! His promise is to “Perfect that which concerns me” (Psalm 138:8) and so He knows what the Syrophoenician woman needed to release Her faith and He knows what we need to release us into full liberty and bear fruit to glorify the Father.
Author: Chris Pearson
May God bless and enrich your life
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