By Brooke Holt
"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
The Gospel of Matthew continues to reveal the nature of Jesus. We love to think he was soft and cuddly. Children loved Jesus, loved to be with him, and to climb into his lap. Therefore, he must be the kindest, most gentle person ever. Right? Jesus was the kindest person who ever lived, and he was gentle in many ways. Yet, as we saw in yesterday’s reading, Jesus was not afraid to challenge and offend people, especially religious leaders of his day.
Today, Jesus gives a different challenge; it even feels a bit abrasive. Jesus would not win the politically correct contest of our day. Yet, everything Jesus did and said had divine purpose, and we know he loves all people so stay with me here.
In this dialogue with the Canaanite woman, Jesus is acknowledging that first and foremost, his mission is to the Jews. Beyond that, he will demonstrate how this mission gets expanded through professions of faith by non-Jews. This Gentile woman acknowledges Jesus as the promised King of Israel. The Jews were supposed to recognize their king, yet this foreign woman sees the identity of Jesus.
Not only does she acknowledge Jesus as the King of Israel, but she looks to him as her only hope for the healing of her daughter. When Jesus responds to her abrasively, she perseveres until Jesus commends her faith and heals her daughter. Jesus’s treatment of this woman may seem harsh, yet his heart is quickly revealed. He delighted in this woman and in her faith.
In contrast to Jesus were the Jewish leaders. To them, this woman was nothing more than a dog. Yet, in this Canaanite woman, Jesus found faith – saving faith. She recognized Jesus as the true King, put her faith in him, and tenaciously made her request of him. It was no longer about her ethnic descent but about her faith. This woman was a daughter of the King.
Jesus commended her for her faith as well as for her tenacity. May he do the same for you today. Jesus is the true King of Israel, the promised Messiah, and your hope for healing. Let’s learn from the Canaanite woman and come to him with a tenacious faith.
How might the Lord want to create a more tenacious faith in you today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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