In this story of the Canaanite woman appealing for help for her daughter we see that Jesus’ programme to go first to Israel was eclipsed by the faith of this Gentile. My hope is that all our programmes and plans are eclipsed by faith even from the most ‘offensive’ of people.
“He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 15: 24-28)
Why was Jesus so reluctant to drive the demon out of the woman’s daughter?
He was testing her faith.
Will she fight back when he indicates that it is not right to take the children’s bread (Israel) and toss it to the dogs (the Tyre and Sidonian people)? Or will she respond according to her knowledge that salvation is for all, Jew and Gentile. That God’s love reaches beyond the barriers that man puts up.
“Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She got it!
She understood even what the disciples would fail to.
That even an outcast, a dog, a second-class citizen of God’s community would get a crumb if she persevered. And one crumb from the master’s table is all she needed. Yes, Jesus was called to Israel first but she saw that ultimately He was called to bring healing to the whole world. This woman had a global perspective which the disciples would eventually understand. But for now her faith is beyond them. Some of the most amazing revelations come from the unlikeliest of places and people.
Jesus gave her more than a crumb. He granted her heart’s desire and he welcomed her to the table.