Children of the Bible, Part 17 by Allan McGuirl
It has been interesting over these past weeks to see how many references are made in the Bible to children and the situations they find themselves in. This next story is found in Matthew 15:21-28.
Jesus had been travelling and retreated to the region of Tyre, which was an important seaport that had been highly developed even before King Solomon’s day. Much timber and other goods were transported to Jerusalem for the building of the temple from Tyre. It was probably the most important merchant city on the Mediterranean sea coast.
Now Jesus had had an extremely busy schedule as he headed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. These cities were well-fortified Canaanite strongholds and, as we know from Biblical history, the Jews and the Canaanites were not the best of friends. Here we see a Canaanite woman from the area coming to Jesus – yes, a Gentile going to a Jew. Notice how she addressed Him. She called Him, “Lord, Son of David.” She was aware of His credentials, and this account implies that she not only knew His credentials, but also knew how He had healed many sick and demon-possessed people. She cried out, “Have mercy on me. My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly!” What a horrible situation this mother was in. Worse than a disease or disability, demon possession had robbed her daughter of any normal semblance of life. The demon, or demons, had taken control of her and caused much suffering and anguish. Often, without warning, she would begin to act and speak in the most horrific, abnormal and abusive ways. How heartbreaking her daughter’s condition was; she had no way of helping her. She came to the only one she knew could help, but Jesus didn’t seem to be listening to her. His disciples urged Jesus to send her away; they were tired of her insistent begging. The woman knew she was a Canaanite – sworn enemies of the Jews, but she persisted in her pleading.
Jesus finally answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” His answer did not deter the desperate mother. She cried out again, “Please, help me!” Jesus’ next answer is astounding to our ears. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” I believe that Jesus could already see the depth of faith in this woman’s heart and wanted to bring it to the surface – so he tested her. The Canaanite woman was well aware that her countrymen have long referred to the Jews as dogs, and the Jews likewise had often used that slur against the Canaanites. She was not deterred. She replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” She implied that the healing of her daughter is but a “crumb” compared to the power of the one she was addressing. What faith! Can you imagine the shock on the disciples faces? They thought Jesus had just delivered a well-deserved “put-down,” but in fact, to their shame, He had brought out the amazing faith of this precious woman. Jesus remarked, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” What a testimony, what joy, what a demonstration of keeping our focus on the one who is able. The account goes on to say, “Her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Praise God for this story.
How often in our travels we have seen amazing faith in the lives of those who do not have all the opportunities we have here in North America: to hear God’s Word preached, to have access to Bibles in various translations, to hear radio broadcasts from godly people on a 24/7 basis, to have Bible-believing churches to attend, and to have all kinds of resources to learn about the amazing Son of God, our Redeemer. Has it made our faith stronger, or have we become like Jesus’ disciples at that moment and become more concerned about our own convenience and less interested in the needs of others? Many believers scattered across the globe exercise tremendous faith on a daily basis, trusting God for food, shelter, safety, healing, and salvation without the benefit of all the things we can easily take for granted. Let us not lose sight of the awesomeness of the one we serve and learn to exercise faith in a greater degree.
Perhaps some of you listening today are facing a critical situation just like this Canaanite woman. God says in His word in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” If you have a prayer request and a desire to call out to Jesus for help, why not do that today? If you would like me to pray along with you, just email me about your situation. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.