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 and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28
This Canaanite woman was an outsider, socially, politically, religiously. She knew it, Jesus knew it. Have you ever felt like an outsider? This unusual story has a message for us. Jesus responds in silence, with apparent rejection and insult. Yet ultimately she is given everything she asked Jesus for and commended for great faith. This was her faith building journey, he has a personal one for each of us. Through each exchange the woman’s faith grows stronger, as she holds on to Jesus more tenaciously refusing to leave. It’s like she’s clinging to him in faith, saying “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
She humbly acknowledges the rejection and the insult, kneeling before Jesus. She pleads with Jesus to give her crumbs, because he is her Master, he has the food. He is God, the source, and she’d take whatever he gives. He couldn’t give less than an earthly master, could he? She was persistent, hopeful, devoted. With all she had, she asked for all of him. She bowed her heart, her soul, her spirit, her body before him in desperation to help her and her daughter.
Jesus is the object of our faith. He is our Master and has all the “crumbs” we need. Our faith will mature when we give all our affections to all of him. How amazing that Jesus felt the things this woman did. He was an outsider, insulted, rejected by people and experienced silence on the cross when he took all our sins upon his sinless self. In this story we have an example from the woman of a maturing faith, and the example of Jesus. We are all outsiders, full of sin, before our holy God. Kneel your heart before him in humble gratitude for all the ways he is maturing your faith. Consider writing down the “crumbs” from your Lord and Master as way of tracking your walk of growing faith in thankfulness. Share them with someone.
By Donna Burns