By Brooke Holt
“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 to Jesus and begged him saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying out after us.'" Matthew 15:21-23
We have all encountered those people I have heard termed as “EGR” – extra grace required. This describes those people who rub you the wrong way, annoy you, the people you want to escape as quickly as possible. For the disciples, this Canaanite woman was an “EGR” woman. They heard her cry and could not ignore the desperation in her voice, but she was a Canaanite, and thus a woman they longed to disregard and escape.
Jesus’ initial response to this woman seems to be the same as the disciples, yet the story tells us so much more! Whereas the disciples felt annoyed, Jesus was curious and even encouraged. He saw beyond external designations and into the hearts of people. This woman’s desperation neither surprised nor frustrated him. Instead, he knew her need, and he welcomed her request despite his initial response. He was clear about his call to prioritize ministry to the nation of Israel; however, Jesus was seeking true followers, those who would know him and love him wholeheartedly. Jesus’ initial response was a test of this woman’s faith as well as an example to his disciples and all who would hear this story.
This Canaanite woman had to overcome many obstacles to get to Jesus and have her daughter healed. As we will read tomorrow, she persevered in faith. She believed Jesus was the Lord, that he had the power to drive out demons, and that his character was one of love and compassion. Her understanding led to a tenacious faith.
Is that your posture towards the Lord? The Lord wants you to know that he has not changed. He is still the God of love and compassion, still the God who sees into the hearts of his children and understands their deepest needs. Keep pursuing him in faith!
And those “EGR” people in your life – what would the Lord have you know about them? Are you seeing them with the eyes of Jesus, looking beyond the externals and into the heart? If not, Jesus would love to change your perspective. He longs for you to be an instrument of his love and compassion to those who are broken and lost. Just as the Lord sees and hears you, so he sees and hears them. You might just be the one to bring his healing touch!
Embolden us, Lord, to wholeheartedly pursue you with our deepest needs. Fill us with your compassion and love for people that we may faithfully minister to them through the power of your Holy Spirit.
What is your posture towards the Lord today? Do you believe and receive his love and compassion? Then, do you extend that love and compassion to those whom he sends to you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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