FOREVER TRIUMPHANT, Day 6—Lenten Devotional, 2018
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 knelt before 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 dogs.”
And she said, “True, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s 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.
Can if be that Jesus really and truly did not want to heal this woman’s daughter? Certainly the passage does seem to play to Jewish prejudice against “Canaanites.” The disciples, who in other passages seem to want to prevent inappropriate people from seeing Jesus (“let the little children come unto me”), here request Jesus to “(give her what she wants and) send her away.” She had worn them down. But (count the “buts” attached to Jesus in this passage) Jesus responds that he was sent only to serve Jewish people. When she is able to get to Jesus, he responds to her need very harshly. Indeed, Matthew’s version is unvarnished in its harshness. Mark has Jesus use the term “little dogs”, by which I suppose one could understand “feed the kids before you feed their darling, beloved, little pets.” The gospel of Matthew has Jesus use the word “dogs”, As in “do not give what is holy to the dogs (Matt 7:6).”
Is this the same Jesus who lovingly touched lepers, ate with sinners, and dignified prostitutes with his blessing? Yes. There must have been a twinkle in his eye, because something enouraged her response, “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs . . .” He set her up for victory. What teams of highly trained experts were not able to to this Canaanite woman was able to do, to get the best of Jesus in a verbal duel.
God wants us to experience victory in our lives. He wants the victory to be meaningful. If everything always goes our way, if everything is easy, then no victory will mean anything. No, we need to hear “great is your faith.” Jesus will seek to set us up for victory.
Prayer: Dear God,
I trust that you want to set me up for victory also, for a victory that is meaningful and great. Remind me of this truth when I am in the midst of a crisis and it seems that you are not hearing me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.