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The Faith of the Canaanite Woman May 13, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 15:21-28.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus leaves Galilee and goes to the southern mountains of Lebanon. A woman from the area of Syria and Lebanon comes to Him and declares that He:

  • has supernatural power
  • is the Messiah.

Since her little child has been demonized, she asks Him for mercy.

Initially, He does not grant her request. Yet she is persistent, asserting that even though He is a Jew and she is a Gentile, He can heal her little child.

He finally proclaims the greatness of her faith, and He heals her little child.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus initially responds to the Canaanite woman’s request with two (apparently) dismissive comments. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

The saying which then came from our Lord’s lips sounded discouraging: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (verse 24)…The second saying of our Lord was even less encouraging than the first: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs” (verse 26).

When I read through this passage, I was confused by these two comments. In particular, what was the purpose of His comment in verse 24? If His intention was to cause the Canaanite woman to display the depth of her faith in Him, did she hear that comment? Was He only addressing the disciples in verse 24? Did He also divinely ordain this encounter as a vehicle for increasing the disciples’ faith in Him? In any case, this passage can challenge us as believers: what is the extent of our faith in Him? Can we truly look beyond short-term losses and focus on long-term gains – namely, our rewards in heaven? Persistence in the face of setbacks is counter-intuitive; thus, we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to overcome our instincts. Indeed, we must painfully rest in Him as we encounter setbacks in our walk with Him.