The Lord delayed His healing of the Syrophenician’s daughter to bring out her faith. A seeker may have to wait for salvation. Sometimes it is defective repentance; sometimes faith is not set on the right object – Christ and His work and compassion. Here is help from a notable case.
‘And from thence he [the Lord Jesus Christ] arose and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it, but he could not be hid.’ And our subject this morning is very simply, ‘What is saving faith?’ And here is a notable case of a great lesson given to us [through this] Syro-Phoenician woman. And it is a notable case because it is one of those instances where the giving of the blessing, which was the healing of her daughter, the casting out a demon, was delayed, and the Lord appears to hesitate, and appears even to refuse to hear her and her request. But we see soon enough that there is a purpose in it, and there is a reason. And so it is a passage which helps greatly in the matter of seeking the Lord. [It helps] especially when someone is waiting a while at the door of Christ, and there seems to be no response, and that person is repenting of sin, and seemingly trusting in Christ, and calling upon him for salvation, but without response. Well, here is a case where this very issue is the point.
And we begin here in verse 24. ‘And he arose’ – he’s been in Capernaum and the northern end of the Sea of Galilee – ‘and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon.’ Now as the crow flies, if he was to go to the most southern of those cities, it would be some thirty five or thirty six miles, but it’s a route far more laborious than that suggests. It’s a three-day journey through the hills, and a very irregular route to Tyre and Sidon.
Tyre, a Mediterranean port, some twenty miles to the north of Sidon, and between them is a notable place, Zarephath, where in previous centuries Elijah was fed by the widow woman. It’s up there in Phoenician territory.
In the time of Ahab Jezebel was a daughter of a Sidonian king and one of the most wicked enemies of Israel in ancient times, and took many, many lives. It’s heathen territory, pagan territory, and yet here is a woman who seems to be greatly affected by the teaching of the Israelites, more affected than they were themselves. And it is here that the question is answered – what is saving faith? How is it brought out?