"Remember Your Rest!" Matthew 15:21-28

Series: Lenten Sermons

March 05, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

"Remiscere!" "Remember, Your tender mercies Lord!" The Second Sunday in Lent calls us to repent of our doing and remember our Rest is Jesus! Sermon Text: Matthew 15:21-28. Sermon Theme: "Remember Your Rest!" Sermon preached for Reminiscere, The Second Sunday in Lent, 5-March-2023, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, LCMS, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

Episode Notes

Reminiscere, The Second Sunday In Lent                         5-March-2023
Sermon Text: Matthew 15:21-28
Sermon Theme: “Remember Your Rest!”

I.N.R.I. Restless. Anxious. Two words that describe Jacob in our Genesis 32 reading and the desperate Canaanite mother in our Gospel lesson this morning. Jacob’s past has caught up to him. On the verge of stepping onto Canaanite soil, the land promised to Abraham, he hears word that his brother Esau is marching towards him with 400 men. He fears that his stealing of the Abrahamic blessing by masquerading as Esau before his nearly blind aged father Isaac nineteen years ago is about to end in disaster. Family disputes over inheritance have torn many apart. The idolatry of greed tears them away from the God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Esau had vowed to kill his brother the thief. Now he is coming to greet him with a small army. Jacob prays, plans, but can find no rest. In the darkness a man grabs him. Wrestling through the night. Jacob fights for his life, and the life of his family - he will not give up the struggle.
      A Canaanite mother is desperate. Her daughter is severely demon possessed. This is not a mere mental illness. Mental illness is real. It is a result of original sin corrupting this creation. Those who suffer mental illness choose it no more than someone who suffers from cancer. Still we often have more compassion for those diagnosed with cancer, than with bi-polar disorder or depression. A mother’s heart is filled with compassion for her children. She doesn’t abandon them when they fall ill, but intensely feels their struggle. She is restless, anxious. Her heart breaks for her children’s struggles. When our children struggle with mental illness we seek out a good Christian cognitive therapist to diagnose and treat them with healing therapies. As Christians within the family of our local congregation we don’t ignore those who struggle with mental illness and their families. Christ Jesus’ compassion shines through our faith in love, as the Holy Spirit instructs us, Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
      Demon possession is real. Satan and his evil angels rush in to capture hearts and minds where Christ’s Word isn’t present. The Canaanite’s young daughter is severely demon possessed. This desperate mother is restless to find the One healing Physician who can free us from Satan’s shackles. She seeks Jesus. In the midst of your restlessness and anxiety, learn from her to : “Remember Your Rest!”
      History records. (Vs.21) News of King Herod’s execution of John the Baptist had reached Jesus. We cannot follow Jesus apart from taking up the cross. The world will treat the student, just as they treated the Teacher - Jesus. The world will treat the Messiah, just as they treated His Messenger - John. Jesus mourns John’s martyrdom withdrawing to the wilderness. He is given no rest. Great crowds follow Him, they are like sheep without a Shepherd. He feeds them with Bread from Heaven - His Word preached. Then blessing five loaves and two small fish, He feeds over 5,000 men and their families in the wilderness - with plenty left over. He crosses back over the Sea of Galilee and the sick are brought to Him in droves for healing. Healing physically costs our Lord. Matthew observes, “Mat 8:16-17 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, (17) that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND BORE OUR SICKNESSES." Power went out from Jesus to heal the sick, to free the demon possessed - their sicknesses became His in His body and He shouldered them to the cross and grave.
      The religious leaders from Jerusalem give Jesus no rest. Hounding and accusing Him of being in league with Satan. Accusing Him of false teaching and practice. Watching for anything death worthy that He might be arrested and suffer the same fate as that troublemaker John the Baptist. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, needs rest. He is fully Man, fully God - yet even the Lord God rested on the seventh day - as a pattern for us to find our rest in Him.  
        Jesus heads up north west of the Sea of Galilee to desolate Gentile territory with His disciples. He needs time off, that they might be recharged through God’s Word, prayer, and the beauty of God’s creation. Rest isn’t found in doing nothing - it is found hearing Jesus preach and taking all your burdens to Him in prayer. Listen to His invitation, “ Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
      As our narrative unfolds it appears Jesus will get no rest. (Vs.22) The restless pagan mother of a demon possessed young girl accosts Jesus. She will not stop crying out loud her petition to this Man. "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." On the shores of the Sea of Galilee in the area of the Gadarenes He had freed a gentile man of a legion of demons that possessed him. He healed a Roman centurion’s servant by speaking His Word. (Vs.23a) Now He is silent. He doesn’t even acknowledge this mother desperately screaming for her daughter’s deliverance from evil.  
    Is it because she is a Canaanite? A descendant of the wicked people who slaughtered their babies to fertility idols. Prostituted themselves for climate change. Led the children of Israel into their perversion. The people whom God had commanded to be wiped out of the land. What does it mean when we cry out in prayer and our Lord is silent? Does it mean that God the Father has abandoned His children? That He has withdrawn His love for us because of our sin? Looking inside, we see the cesspool of our hearts, filled with the sewage of “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” We are defiled by sin - is that why God is silent to our prayers?
    The disciples intercede for this desperate mother. (Vs.23b) “Send her away!” It is embarrassing to have a woman screaming after you as you journey through a foreign land. Did they want Jesus to answer her prayer or just get rid of her? (Vs.24) Our Lord’s answer in this woman’s hearing seems a harsh blow. He was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She had no claim, no birthright, no right to be called a child of God. He wasn’t the Savior for her. Still she prayed out loud. “Have mercy on me!” The God of Israel was the God of mercy. She would not let this precious truth of His Word to be torn from her heart. “O Lord Son of David!” Yahweh - the eternal only begotten Son of God - now tabernacles among us in the flesh - the Son of David - born of the Virgin Mary. The God-Man has come to rescue all of mankind from Satan’s prison of sin, death, and hell. The Holy Spirit preaches in Hebrews, “Heb 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
    This mother takes her rest in God’s gracious Word of promise in His Messiah. Sheep cling to their shepherd’s voice - she clings to His voice of mercy -not in the harsh words of rebuke. Like Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord - Jesus preincarnate- on the banks of the Jordan River - she will not let Jesus go until He blesses her. (Vs.25). St. Mark tells us that she follows Jesus into the house where they are lodging. Falling down on the ground at Jesus feet - she worships Him as her God and Lord, praying, “Lord, save me!” Apart from the flesh and blood of Jesus she has no hope. No hope for herself. No hope for her demon possessed daughter. She needs the salvation found only in Jesus and no one else. She cries out her “hosanna” - “Lord, save me!”
      Will she find rest in her worship of Jesus? (Vs.26) The Preacher is harsh unyielding - it seems He offers her no rest. Many coming into His House hearing His preaching take offense - they vow never to return to beg from Him. They are content to live with their demons rather than hear His harsh words. Dear Christian, don’t let your sinful flesh dull your hearing! Don’t let Satan swoop in to snatch the seed of Christ’s Word from your heart! Don’t let the trials and tribulations you face deaden His Word in your heart! Learn from this pagan mother to listen!
Listen as He calls you a sinner! Listen as He calls you as hopeless! Listen as He calls you dead in your trespasses! Lost in your iniquities! Straying in the shadows!
      Listen! (Vs.27) She hears His Word of promise. Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” The adulterer, liar, murderer - King David confessed, clinging to God’s mercy - to Jesus! We prayed with him this morning, Psa 25:6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old....Remember not the sins of my youth”. A dog in a house full of children - is loved too - it isn’t fed at the table, but any crumbs that fall are its to clean up from the floor. She only wants to be a dog, licking up the crumbs falling from the merciful Master’s table. Like a dog who finds its rest at the feet of its owner - her rest is found only at the feet of her Creator - Jesus. (Vs.28). Our Lord now exclaims, “Great is your faith!” She is a true daughter of Eve, clinging to God’s Word of mercy and promise in the Lord - the Head Crusher - born of the Virgin Mother. Her rest is only in Jesus’ flesh and blood given to save her from Satan, sin, and death. Her rest flows from His Word preached. She rests in His mercy taking every burden to her Lord in prayer. Her daughter is healed - freed from Satan - to hear the wonderful news of Jesus brought home by her mother - to preserve her in His Word and rest until He brings them safely through every trial , sickness, death, and the grave to the resurrection of the body - Home eternally.
    Dear Christian, remember your rest is found in Jesus alone! Lay aside your pride and do not despise His preaching. His law exposes the truth that you are a sinner. Here find your rest, as did St. Paul, 1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Learn real rest is found in Him alone - He is your Lord. He is mercy. He is here to save you! Come to His house, gather at His table - He doesn’t feed you crumbs. Rest in Him! Listen to His voice, “Take eat, this is My Body, given for you!” “You are Mine, I save you!” “Take drink, this is My Blood, of the New Testament! I gave and shed it for your sins - you are forgiven! My life now flows through you. Salvation rest is yours.” Amen.

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