Apparently not long after Jesus and His men arrived in Gentile territory, a woman, a Canaanite woman, came to Jesus.
What is particularly unusual is that we know that the Jews had nothing to do with the Gentiles, which is what you were if you were not a Jew. Whether you were Greek, a Canaanite, etc., to the Jews you were either a Jew or not! And if not, you were an enemy of the Jews. And the Gentiles knew it.
In fact, the Jewish people often referred to the Gentiles as dogs. Dogs in those times were not your cute pets that you have at home. They were scavengers, which meant they were filthy from picking in the rubble and trash and therefore they were considered unclean.
Jesus commends the faith of the Canaanite woman
But this woman didn’t seem to care much about what others thought about her. In fact, she was quite bold and very courageous. She approached Jesus on Jewish terms by crying out to Him and recognizing Jesus as, “Lord, and the Son of David” which was more than the religious leaders had done.
Then she asked Jesus to have mercy on her.
She told him that her daughter was suffering terribly from a demon possession. Jesus did not answer her.
Mistaking His silence for apathy or indifference, the disciples came to Jesus and urged Him to get rid of her, for her constant cry for help was annoying them. It was getting on their nerves and it was interfering with their time and work.
And so Jesus finally turned to her and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Either knowing or recognizing this truth (though out of desperation for her daughter this mother did not turn away hopeless) she drew closer and knelt before Jesus. She again called Him Lord! Recognizing Jesus as Sovereign ruler of the universe, she cried out to Him, knowing He was her only hope.
In verse 26 Jesus replied to her that it is not right to take the children’s (referring to the Jews) bread and give it to the dogs, as she would have been called. But she humbly and boldly confessed that yes, though that is true, even the dogs scavenge for the leftovers, the crumbs that fall from the table.
In a sense she was saying if that’s all you can give me Lord, I know it will be enough!
And Jesus responded, probably looking her straight in the eyes, and said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour!
Though this woman was confronted by Jesus with the truth of her position, she humbly cried out to Him. She told Him her problem and she trusted Him to take care of it for her.
And she was commended for her great faith, not only then but we are still talking about it today!
Those who walk by faith in Jesus Christ will receive His goodness both now and forever.
Do you recognize, like this woman, Jesus’s Lordship over you and your life? Do you seek His help…His mercy? Do you trust Him not only in the good times but also in the trials of life? Do you seek His will for your life and/or the lives of others He has put in your care?
We can learn a lot from this woman’s faith, her humility, and her courage in the face of hard stuff.
What will you lay before Him as a result of this lesson? Don’t give up and don’t give in! Persistently pursue Jesus and He will answer you in His due time. Could it be that in the silence He is growing your faith, and your courage in boldly coming before His throne?
Now this was an unusual sight for the disciples, that Jesus, a Jew, would extend mercy to a Gentile, and a woman Gentile to boot. Times were changing and Jesus was leading their thinking and filling their minds. The Jews were to be the first to receive the Word of God and His purpose was that they would take it out into all the world. But because the Jews failed to receive it for even themselves, Jesus Himself would make a way for ALL, Jew and Gentile, to hear the Word of God and be offered the free gift of salvation!