“Great Faith ”

Matthew 15:21-28
These verses contain the visit of a Canaanite woman to Jesus.  She cried out to Him, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed."(NAS)  The woman was a Gentile and Jesus reminds her that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel.  This did not deter her continuing cry for help.  She bowed down before Him and worshipped Him.  The Greek word used here denotes an act of humility, and, in almost all cases, implies worship.
Jesus' reply to her worship has puzzled many.  "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."  This statement has been considered out of character for Jesus and offensive to the woman.  When interpreting this verse, one must take into consideration at least three issues.
                1.  Jesus was testing the woman which sometimes requires a certain amount of firmness.
                2.  The text neither reveals the tone in which Jesus spoke nor His facial expression, two important aspects of communication.  William Barclay said, "The tone and the look with which a thing is said make all the difference.  Even a thing which seems hard can be said with a disarming smile."
                3.  The Greek word for "dog" can mean "a house-dog or lap-dog."  Certainly, being compared to a lap-dog would not be as offensive as being compared to a street-dog."

Rather than being offended, the quick-witted woman turned the analogy to her own advantage.  Repeating the word for "dog" Jesus had used, she said even dogs feed from the crumbs of the master's table.  The response was probably not the one Jesus wanted from her, but the Lord was still moved.  He exclaimed, "O woman, your faith is great."   Let us use this woman as an example of persistence in the things that we really want (need) and what is God's will.


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