Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 63
Matthew:15:21-28 The Faith of the Canaanite Woman
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:15:1-20 Clean and Unclean
(see also kjv@Mark:7:24-30)
What is God doing?
"Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon"
In the past the port cities of Tyre and Sidon have been places of God's judgment kjv@Isaiah:23:1-9; not utterly destroyed like Sodom, but never to return to it's fabled prominence. Tyre was an ancient city dating perhaps as far back as 2700BC, renowned, strongly fortified, steeped in world trade, very wealthy and very deprived morally. Jesus is on the coast of this area which puts Him on the furtherest northern boarder of Israel.
"He answered her not a word"
This woman is Greek according to Mark, from Phaenicia in Syria. She identifies Jesus as the Son of David which indicates that either she knows something about the Jewish religion and prophecy or that she has heard Jews there talk about Him. Jesus has healed other Gentiles and made special note of their faith; many times it has been said that without question He had healed "all those" brought to Him. It is likely then that Jesus is purposely avoiding her specifically in order to draw out our understanding of her persistence of faith.
"I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel".
To consider this statement by Jesus one would have to ask the broader question historically throughout God's many redemptive dealings with mankind as to why Israel? Why not some other nation or people or location? Why not all peoples at once? Especially considering Israel's constant treatment of God and turning away to false gods?
The closest I can figure is that it is something similar to the concept behind a medical vaccination. A low dosage of the disease is strategically injected in to the blood system upon which the autoimmune system aggressively reacts and counters with an antibody agent. Though the analogy is not complete, it does go to explain reactions of the surrounding nations, the isolation of Israel, the violent actions against. It is almost that their vehement reaction to Israel is causing the message of God's redemption across the region and into every other nation of trade and political acquaintance. Where the world would have been deaf to a global encounter and salvation message, they are made to be carriers of the message into places it would likely have never gone. Where man intended it to be hatred and jealousy and incredulous outrage, God intended it as a viable mechanism of producing much good.
What is man doing?
"His disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us"
And so we see the woman's persistence; most likely already known by Jesus, but being used to make a very necessary statement both in terms of Israel's key messianic role and towards the substance of truer faith. Jacob once wrestled with the Lord all night. Wrestling is not always between mortal combatants, it is often between kindred athletes for the sake of the sport and skill of it. The daughter surely was going to be healed (may have already been healed by this point). A woman that has come as far as this woman has for the sake of her daughter is a woman who is a worthy challenger if to make a larger point to the crowd at large gathered around.
For some however, the challenge is an utter nuisance, namely the disciples. The woman's exemplary determination and faith has become a pest. Perhaps it is better for us to consider that Jesus is rather wrestling with the mindset of the disciples.
"Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me"
Worship should not be left out of our consideration. It is a marked similarity amongst most of these Gentile healings and deliverances as recorded. It may not be describing a worship the scale we would like to think of, it may have been as small as a bowing of the head or a drop to the knees as to a dignitary, but reverent gesture just the same. Amongst the Jews the gesture is rarely mentioned, not to say that it didn't happen, it was just not prominently made note of. What is frequently made note of is that had the works Jesus performed among these Jews been performed anywhere else that these others would have believed on the Son, turned and repented.
"She said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table"
I can't imagine the humility it took to say this and so promptly without another heart beat. Oh the cry of her heart to imagine that her quest for her daughters future relief might simply come to not just a few inches from our savior's face. Oh the cry of our heart as we imagine that story end could possibly be so. But yet her cry did not stop her, not even her own ethnic pride was going to stifle that one last plea. And that is precisely what our Master wanted us all to see. It is forever a painting of what profound thing a mother's faith can be!
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt"
Should we keep the image in our minds of a desperate woman being an utter nuisance? Should we keep the image that our Lord is certainly too busy for a young girl vexed to no end by a devil? That we might have to wrestle over it for a time before getting an answer? Should we keep the image that God is really only concerned for now with the House of Israel? Should we take offense at the notion of the children's table and the crumbs being dropped to the floor? Should we like the other nations be indignant that God has chosen to proceed with the message of salvation by way of Israel in the manner that HE has?
Should we? Yes? Consider then that the girl was in fact healed. The disciples attitude was corrected. Israel's unbelief was rebuked. The Lord's fame was further spread and that because of this fame one mother's faith and determination and humility is forever known the world over; this despite the world's deliberate avoidance of it all.
I'd say that we all came out ahead because of all this!
Next: devotion:Matthew:15:29-39 Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand