21Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”
23But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
24Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
25But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
26Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
27She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”
28“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
It seems as if Jesus is being harsh and racist, but it is a lesson in prayer.
First, the woman is not a Jew but we know she recognizes Jesus as the Messiah by how she addresses him. She doesn’t let her pagan upbringings and peer pressure keep her from coming to Jesus. She finds hope in Jesus and comes to him so much that she is annoying Jesus’ disciples. (Notice, Jesus is NOT annoyed).
At first, Jesus is completely silent to her. If you have ever prayed, you have experienced this. Perhaps it is Jesus’ way of teaching us perseverance. Perhaps he wants us to prove how badly we want or need him. Perhaps he is just giving us time to consider our own prayer and circumstances. I do not know, but I know God can be silent sometimes.
Next Jesus explains that she is not whom he was sent to. While we know Jesus came to this world for everyone, at this point in his ministry he was not trying to convert Gentiles. He was sent to give Israel the chance to see him as their Lord and Messiah. He is simply stating a fact. But notice, he didn’t say he wouldn’t help her. If you are a parent, I’ll bet you have played “devil’s advocate” with your children to make them think. In your prayer life, don’t be surprised if God uses circumstances, feelings, confusion, and the words of others to make you think and reconsider, and perhaps recommit to him and your prayer.
That is exactly what this woman does. She begs for Jesus’ help again and again Jesus responds with a statement that seems harsh and rejecting. She would have expected a Jew to call her a dog, and in a way, Jesus does, though his statement is not pointed directly at her. The response of the woman is exactly what God is looking for. She does bow her back and insist she be treated with respect. The woman agrees that she doesn’t deserve Jesus’ blessing but asks for just a “scrap”. And there the woman and the Lord come together.
What does Jesus have to do to me to get me to be like this woman? She proved to Jesus, and herself, that she believed he was the Messiah. She believed he was so great and had so much abundance that all she needed was a “scrap” from him. Lastly, she recognized that she wasn’t good and deserving and she completely abandoned any hint of pride in herself. And at that point the Lord answered her with a miracle.
Lord, help me to accept your lessons and Lordship, whether in the form of silence, tough answers or miracles. I am yours, let your will be done. Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*
When was the last time the Lord’s silence was a great blessing to you?