And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 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.” 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 15:21-28 ESV)
Today we conclude our three-day study of this passage in which a Gentile woman approaches Jesus seeking help for her daughter who was possessed by a demon. Yesterday we saw Jesus teach this woman that He was not to be feared; He was approachable and willing to help. Today we see His response to her faith.
For reason’s explained yesterday, Jesus declined her request stating it was not right to take the bread (the Gospel) that was meant for the Jews (children) and give it to the Gentiles (dogs). Note that there were two words in Greek for “dogs”. One, which we saw used previously, referred to wild dogs who posed a danger to humans. The word Jesus uses today is different. It refers to domesticated dogs that people kept as pets. Jesus was not insulting this woman. He was simply trying to make a point – that God offered salvation to His own – the Jews.
And up until this point in history, this was true (although non-Jews could be saved by becoming a part of God’s family – becoming Jewish). But Jesus came for all people. He came to save Jew and Gentile. This was always God’s plan. The Old Testament concept of God being only accessible through Judaism was over.
But with few exceptions, the Jews rejected Jesus. This rejection is symbolized by the crumbs in the woman’s comment. She accurately notes that if the Jews didn’t want Jesus, it was perfectly acceptable for the Gentiles to receive what He had to offer.
Notice the woman did not deny Jesus’ statement. She says “yet even“, indicating that she is in full agreement with Jesus. That is, she understands who Jesus is and God’s plan to bring salvation to mankind through the Jews. Yet she also knew that God’s blessing extended to all people. Neither she nor any Gentile was excluded.
This woman knew more than the Jewish people themselves, who had the Old Testament. For this reason Jesus called her faith “great” and instantly healed her daughter.
This woman had little exposure to the Gospel, yet she had great faith. The Jews, on the other hand, had much exposure to God’s plan but they had little faith. This included the disciples [Matthew 14:28-33]. Interestingly, the only other person to whom Jesus attributed such faith was also a Gentile – the Roman centurion who also came to Jesus on behalf of his daughter [Matthew 8:5-13].
This woman knew that Jesus could help her and she didn’t give up simply because her first attempts failed. She took each of Jesus’ responses and learned from them. She was 100% convinced of who Jesus was and what He could do. And because of that faith she did not quit. She persisted and learned the right way to approach Jesus – directly and in humility. As a result, her faith was rewarded.
Great faith leads to great reward.
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