Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28)
This woman of great faith is found in a gospel account that is as strange as it is sublime. A Canaanite woman came to Jesus, begging Him to help her demon-possessed daughter. She came to Jesus looking for help, as so many others had done throughout His ministry . . . but Jesus did not say a word to her at first. The disciples took this as a sign that Jesus wanted nothing to do with her, and they urged Him to send her away (Matthew 15:23).
Like I said, strange . . . but also sublime.
[Jesus] 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 their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:24-27)
It is important to know something about the use of this word “dog” in this first-century cultural context. The Jewish people would commonly use the term to describe the Gentiles, because that is what they considered these pagan, people to be: godless “dogs” that were unworthy to receive any mercy or blessing from the hand of God. Jesus, however, when He used the the term “dogs,” was not being insensitive or unkind. He was simply contrasting the current Jewish attitude of contempt toward this non-Jewish woman with His own attitude, which was one of love and compassion.
Notice that the woman, far from being put off by Jesus’ use of this word, replied in kind, content to accept the designation as long as she could receive whatever blessing Jesus would bestow. I am reminded of the tax collector, who “would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner'” (Luke 18:13). The Canaanite woman had a faith that did not falter, even in the face of the disapproving disciples and a seemingly disinterested Savior.
I believe Jesus was making a very important point to you and me in the way he interacted with this woman. He gave the appearance of having no interest at all in her, but Jesus was actually giving this woman the opportunity to stretch her faith – to keep praying, to keep seeking the solution to her problem, and to trust in the unwavering goodness of God.
I need to ask you an important question: When was the last time you were confronted with “the sound of silence” from your Savior? Have you been asking but not receiving any response? Let this strange, sublime story of the faith of the Canaanite woman both encourage you and challenge you to never give in and never stop asking and seeking whatever “crumbs” you desire from our loving Lord. And regardless of the answer you ultimately receive from Jesus, you can be sure that He is growing and maturing you to develop a faith that refuses to falter.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!