Matthew 15: 24-28. “But He answered and said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped Him, saying Lord, help me. But He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
What a depth there is in this brief encounter. We could spend hours, really, searching out all the treasure that can be mined from just a few words.
I am so impressed with this woman. She accepted an apparent rebuff from Jesus; she endured the impatience of the disciples. She begged Jesus again, worshipping Him. When He again seemed to put her off, she had the right answer to His statement. Finally, Jesus recognized and acknowledged her incredible faith and healed her daughter.
But let’s back up a bit and look at His response to the disciples when they asked Him to send her away. He said, “I am not come only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This was a very plain statement that the Old Testament Law was going to change. It was no longer the Jews only who had access to the Truth. His grace and salvation would be extended to the Gentiles as well. It must have taken the disciples a few minutes to process what Jesus had said, because we don’t hear from them again in this incident. Their silence gave Jesus and the woman their opportunity to talk.
Again. I am impressed with the woman’s humility, knowledge, and understanding of Who Jesus was. “Lord, help me!” was the cry of her heart. The second time she addressed Him, she did not use the Son of David title. She acknowledged that she was not a part of the family of Israel, but she also understood that He was indeed Lord of all and that she had the freedom to approach Him.
Still, He tested her again. “It isn’t good,” He said, “To take the bread of the legitimate children and cast it to the dogs.” The word dogs that Jesus used meant the little dogs, the pets, that belonged to the household and who were not forbidden to look under the table for crumbs. It did not apply to the homeless dogs that often roamed the streets, but to dogs that were adopted into the household.
This amazing woman did not cringe away in humiliation or anger. Instead, she humbly agreed with Jesus, and pointed out that the little dogs were indeed allowed to enjoy the crumbs that fell from the table. In her humility, her great faith is obvious. She understood that Jesus was the One Who had come from God to provide salvation not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles. She was asking only for a crumb from the master’s table.
Jesus, Who of course had known who she was and how she would respond, commended her publicly for her great faith and gave her what she asked.
I imagine Him, as He turned back to His disciples, looking into their faces, searching their eyes to see if they had understood the lesson that had just been played out for them.