An exposition of Matthew 15:21-39. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 29, 2010.
I hate it. When I go I make sure I don’t have anything extra on me. I’m not carrying anything I don’t have to have at that moment. Because the first thing they make me do is step up on that scale! I know it is good and it’s necessary – but I don’t have to like it. Check ups. They are intended to prevent major disasters. A regular visit to the doctor is designed to spot potential problems before they are definite problems. So even though I don’t like them – I go. I listen. I sometimes do as I’m told. Job evaluations are the same way. No one likes to be told what they are doing wrong. No one looks forward to having their work scrutinized. But yet again it is a necessary evil if your goal is to do your best. For any evaluation there must first be a standard. For a medical check up the doctor begins with an understanding of what is healthy. For a job evaluation you must begin with a job description. You cannot determine if something is being done well if you do not know what’s supposed to be done.
The same is true when we seek to determine how we are doing in ministry. We are inundated with books, tapes, seminars and conferences on how to “do church.” One positive trend in the last few years has been a shift from a “church growth” model (which evaluates solely on the basis of numbers and size) to a “church health” model. Understanding that numerical growth is not as important as spiritual health. If the church is spiritually healthy – growth will take care of itself. What has been discovered is that some churches have grown incredibly but are not healthy. But how do we determine health? How do we determine what the church is to look like? How do we determine what the church is to be doing? What ministries should we have? How many committees should there be? How many deacons should we have? How many staff members? Should we even have staff members?
I must tell you that this gets to be a complicated issue. I do not believe there are simple answers to these questions. I take that back, I think the answer is simple but its application is difficult. Because the simple answer is – we are here to carry on the ministry of Jesus. But before we can even begin to address the issue of what form that takes we have to deal with a more fundamental issue. What was the ministry of Jesus like? For some answers we turn to Matthew’s Gospel and the 15th chapter.
Text: Matthew 15:21-39
Jesus has just finished a dispute with the leaders from Jerusalem.
He argued with them over what constitutes genuine spirituality.
Jesus made it clear that it is not a mere matter of external conformity.
Rather the issue is an internal transformation that results in external acts.
Following that exchange our Lord once again withdraws for a time of renewal.
Yet again crowds follow.
As we reflect on our Lord’s interaction with the crowds we learn some things about his ministry. Some things we would do well to consider as we ask ourselves –
- Is His ministry our ministry? Is our work marked by what marked His work?
- The ministry of Jesus responds to the heart of persistent faith. (15:21-28)
- The ministry of Jesus meets the needs of the hurting. (15:29-31)
- The ministry of Jesus is driven by compassion. (15:32-39)
This is the work we are called to.
A work that responds to the persistent faith of the desperate.
A work that responds that meets the needs of the hurting.
A work that is driven by compassion.
Is this what we are about? Is this what we are known for? By God’s grace may it be so!