Prepare to Listen. Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 15:21-28
21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.
What Jesus said and did resulted in confrontation with the Jewish leaders so he escaped to Tyre and Sidon, Gentile territory. For one who claimed he was “sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” it seems strange that he retreated far from them. But there, he met a Canaanite woman who confronted him with his larger mission. As an outsider she instructed Jesus, the insider who was willing to be instructed.
It’s a mystery how this woman heard about Jesus, let alone believed in him. She is one of a handful of people who recognized and called him by the Messianic title, Son of David. She also knew that his mission was not only to the lost sheep of Israel, but also to Gentiles like herself. Something powerful happened because she stood her ground and Jesus was brought back to his larger mission for all peoples. She persisted even though Jesus ignored her until his disciples begged him to send her away. Why didn’t they beg Jesus to heal her daughter instead?
When he reluctantly responded to her, he wasn’t encouraging, calling her ‘a dog,’ a common derogatory term used to dismiss Gentiles as inferior. Undeterred the woman challenged him: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” The force of her faith touched Jesus deeply, reminding him he came for all the lost. He commended her: “‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”
What disturbed or encouraged you in this story?
Respond in Prayer
Thank you, Lord, for this Canaanite woman’s great faith that persisted in her belief in your mercy to save. Increase my faith and help me see faith in the unlikely around me today. Amen.
Live Obediently. Pay attention to the outsider.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.