Monday, February 16, 2009

Ruth and the Canaanite Woman of Matthew 15

As I've been studying the glorious book of Ruth, I keep having my mind return to the account of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28. This first occurred when I read Ruth 2:10, where Ruth reveals her humble awareness of her outsider status: "Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'" She knew that she had no right to Boaz's kindness, that she was not a rightful member of the covenant community. She could very well have described herself as a dog, like the account in Matthew: "And he answered, 'It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.' She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table'" (Matt. 15:26-27). Ruth knew her lowly estate, but she also knew the kindness of Boaz.

As a side note, I listened to a sermon by John Piper on Ruth 2 after I made this connection to Matthew 15 in my mind, and he made the same connection. It is always very affirming to hear or read a respected Bible teacher have the same thought that I had independently. Makes me feel that I'm not grasping at straws, interpretationally. That's cool. But I digress.

Anyway, now I've been in Ruth chapter 3, and again my mind was brought back to the Matthew 15 woman. This time it is in Ruth 3:12-13, where Boaz reveals that there is a nearer kinsman who has "first dibs" on Ruth. Now of course this comparison is not so identical, because with Ruth she has two possible Redeemers while in Matthew there is only one Redeemer with two groups of people needing redemption. But I still see similarity. The Canaanite woman knew that she had no claim on Jesus, especially not more claim than the Jews did, yet she was willing to wait and take what she could from Him. Likewise, Ruth has no direct claim on Boaz, but she is willing to wait and take what he will provide. And he is a faithful provider, promising that she will be taken care of either way. Whether he marries her, or the other kinsman marries her, he makes sure that she will be provided for. Just so, Jesus provided for the outsider with no claim on Him (Matt. 15:28).

Oh what a blessed message this is for miserable sinners such as us, who have no claim at all upon God's grace, but are nevertheless promised His grace. May we love Him and seek Him so as to be under that promise, never presuming that we deserve it, but always sure that He will give it.

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