Repentance and Faith

March 6, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

We spoke earlier (Thursday, March 04) of this woman’s background, but what we didn’t mention that she was a Canaanite. Because she was a Syro-Phoenician (Mark 7:26), she was a Phoenician by race and Syrian by language and culture. She was also Greek in her religion, most likely a worshiper of Astarte, the Greek equivalent of the Northwestern Semitic goddess Astoreth (which you hear a lot of in the Old Testament) and the Eastern Semitic goddess Ishtar.

The Phoenicians were descendants of the Canaanites (the numerous tribes in ancient Canaan prior to the Jewish conquest under Joshua). As such, they were Semitic - descendants of Shem, the son of Noah. The Jews were also Semitic in heritage, but the Phoenicians were pagan and not of the commonwealth of Israel.

By some unknown means, this woman heard that Jesus was in the area. The fact that she came to Jesus crying for help, that she addressed Jesus as Lord and Son of David, and that she believed in Jesus as a Rabbi and healer indicates she had turned away from her paganism and embraced Jesus as the Messiah. This is the core idea of repentance of sin and faith in Christ.

Note that she cried out to Jesus for mercy. Mercy is a gift of God’s grace. She knew she did not deserve any consideration from God because of her sinfulness, and she certainly did not desire God’s justice because of her sinfulness. That would have resulted in her being condemned by God. Note also she did not come demanding for mercy (as if anyone has a right to God’s mercy) but pleading to Jesus for God’s mercy. All of this indicates this woman was truly repentant and in faith believing who Jesus truly was - the Messiah of God who came to save.

Scripture teaches us that salvation from sin and its punishment is an expression of God’s mercy upon the sinner. Without His mercy, His justice would condemn us all because all of us have sinned and are sinners. Moses understood this (Exodus 34:6-9). David understood this (Psalm 51). Paul understood this (Romans 9:14-18; Ephesians 2:4-7).

“Faith and repentance, like Siamese twins, are vitally joined together . . . two spokes in the same wheel, two handles of the same plow. Repentance has been well described as a heart broken for sin and from sin . . . (Charles Haddon Spurgeon).

“Lord Jesus, I am thankful that You have not dealt with me according to my sins, nor have You punished me according to my disobedience, but by Your grace and mercy You have removed my sins from me and been compassionate toward me. I do not deserve Your consideration, nor can I ever repay You for it. I can only praise Your name because of it. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.”


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