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.”
An Odd Conversation
What an odd conversation. One certainly doesn’t expect Jesus to carry on like this. He’s loving and kind. He is the one who welcomes sinners and tax collectors, isn’t he? Is he being rude, or is there something more here?
Something more, to be sure! For starters, it was Jesus’ idea to go to this region in the first place. This woman’s daughter was suffering from demon possession, and Jesus was going to help her. But first, before the miraculous healing, he would give her an opportunity to exercise her faith and, in the process, give us an inspiring example of trust.
Here’s the recap. The woman approaches Jesus. He ignores her. She kneels before him asking for help. He refers to her as a dog, implying she was not a rightful member of the Jewish family. And she replies, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs.”
In other words, she was saying: Jesus, I agree with you. I don’t deserve your love. I’m a sinner who is not worthy to approach your table, much less sit beside you. I’m not a direct descendant of Abraham, but I am his child by faith. But you, Jesus, have promised salvation for all people. I am clinging to that promise, even though some could get the impression you don’t care. I know you do care because you have made a promise to love all people and offer up your life as a sacrifice for the sins of all people. Have mercy on me, Lord.
Oh, how I want her words to be my words!
Jesus wasn’t showing indifference; he was exercising her faith. In the face of opposition, the Canaanite woman didn’t run away; she ran to Jesus. She didn’t sit on a bed of self-pity; she stood on the sure promises of Jesus.
Oh, how I want to stand where she stood—on the promises of Jesus!
Thank you, Lord, for promising to be with me today. When testing comes, help me run to you. Help me find rest and comfort in your promises. Amen.