22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Well, that was rather rude, don’t you think? After all, Jesus is supposed to love everybody, right? “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight”?
That doesn’t sound very loving!
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
The woman begs. Even so, Jesus doesn’t really care what she has to say:
So, the people of Canaan (or the Greeks, if you’re reading Mark) are “dogs”. That makes her a dog-woman! And it must be true, because Jesus Himself said so!
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Does it sound to you as though Jesus is saying that she’s a human-animal hybrid, like at the top of the page? Or is “dogs” an ethnic slur?
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
She debases herself, calling herself a dog and accepting the insult, hoping desperately to get help.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Glory! Jesus grants this lowlife, this dog-woman, what she has asked for.
In Mark 7, Jesus is explicit in His reason for granting her request.
25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
He granted her request specifically because she debased herself!
What can we learn from this story? Talk about these questions with your friends, and ask in Sunday School!
- Does Jesus help just anybody?
- What does it take to get Jesus to help you? Is just asking enough?
- We are often told that we should act “Christ-like”. Does this mean that we should discriminate against people based on their race or nationality, just like Jesus did? Why or why not?
- Does Jesus love all people equally, no matter what race or nationality they are? What do Mommy and Daddy and Pastor say, and what does the Bible tell you?
- Whom can you trust? Mommy? Daddy? Pastor? Or the Bible, which is God’s Word?
- Is this the same story twice, or are these two different women? After all, the descendants of Canaan were cursed . . . and weren’t Greeks!