Jesus' Footprints

A Gentile Shows Her Faith

Posted on: 16 Dec 2010

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 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.”

But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour (Matthew 15:21-28; Isaiah 49:6).

This is an interesting story.  The woman of Canaan believed that Jesus could heal her daughter and that was why she came to Him for help.  At first Jesus doesn’t answer her, which seems quite uncharacteristic for Him.  The disciples wanted him to send her away because she was pestering them with her cries.  Jesus said to them, that He was sent to help the Jews.  The woman, persistent, was crying out to Him again.  This time Jesus answered her.  He told her that it was not good to take bread from children and give it to the dogs.  In other words, it was not good to take what belonged to the Jews and give it to an non-Jew.  This remark didn’t phase the woman.  She told Jesus that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table.  So, He could spare her a little of what the people of Israel had.

Her persistence paid off.  Jesus commended her on her faith and granted her the desire of her heart.  He healed her daughter.

Jesus wasn’t being unkind to the woman.  He was illustrating how wrong it was to ignore a person’s cries for help because they were different.  The woman was a gentile, whom the Jews had low regard for—they referred to Gentiles as dogs, which is why Jesus used the term.  He wanted to show how salvation should be everyone not just for the Jews even though it given to them first.  It was not exclusive to them.  The children referred to the Jews and the dogs referred to the Gentiles.  The salvation that goes to the Jews should go to the Gentiles, hence the crumbs falling from the plate and going to the dogs.  Jesus went to heal the sick.  Here He was fulfilling these words, “And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

Like the disciples, it is not up to us who should be saved and who should not be.  God’s grace is for everyone.  Jesus wanted to teach the disciples and us this very important lesson.  So, when someone who doesn’t look right comes into our church and cries out to Jesus, we are not to say to the elders or deacons, “Send her away.  She’s disrupting the service.”  Instead, we should allow her to receive what we have—God’s grace.  Don’t be selfish, share what’s on your plate with somebody who desperately needs it like the mother who kept behind Jesus until she got what she wanted.

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