Reflection from my reading in Matthew 15:1-20 in the One Year Bible New Testament.
Jesus and his disciples when North to the region of Tyre and Sidon to possibly get away from the crowds and the religious leaders. Then a Canaanite woman asked him to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Historically, the Canannite people were enemies with the Jews and generally worshiped false gods. Here’s what she said,
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” Matthew 15:22
Jesus ignored this at first. This caused the disciples to tell Jesus to send her away. By ignoring her, he was testing her faith. She called him the Jewish term “Son of David.” This term was used for the promised Jewish Messiah. The commentaries argue that he didn’t respond because she was trying to come to him on Jewish terms. Jesus then said,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24
Jesus used this as an opportunity to share that his ministry focus was indeed the Israelites. (Something we learn from this is that it is okay to have a target group of people that you are trying to reach in your church or ministry, but you still must love and accept everyone.) This response tested her faith even further, but she would not give up!
“But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Matthew 15:25–26
She then called him “Lord,” which shows her faith in him and does not have the same Jewish ties as “Son of David.” But Jesus again says that he needs to focus his work on feeding his Jewish children and not the Gentiles, or “dogs.” Jesus is not being harsh with this woman but using a normal term to illustrate how his ministry is directed toward Israel. Even hearing this, she still won’t give up!
“She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.” Matthew 15:27–28
Jesus called this woman’s faith GREAT! We can learn a lot from this woman to not give up asking Jesus for what we want. Jesus was pleased with her and granted her request. Eventually, after Jesus ministers to the Jews, the good news indeed would be opened up to all people!
This woman’s faith and dogged determination inspire me to ask God and not to give up on my requests. I am grateful that I (as a Gentile) get to eat the crumbs of God’s grace because his crumbs are better than our lobster dinner!
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