Crunch, crunch, crunch…ow! She could feel the dirt and sand from the path crunching under her feet, as she ran, quite recklessly in the direction toward Israel.
News traveled fast in her village of the miracle – working rabbi, who happened to passing through her region. What are the odds!
News about him had spread rapidly all over the Region of Tyre and Sidon that Jesus could heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, outwit the Pharisees, teach with power, and… cast out demons. The report going around was that all who came to him were healed… all.
‘Would He heal my daughter?’ The question formed in her mind as she paced herself on the road. She thought of the traditions of Jews and the Caananites. She knew that Jews would never associate with pagan people. Their traditions and history proved that. What business did a godless woman have with this Jewish rabbi, who seemed to mainly only minister in Israel?
She pushed all of those thoughts out of her mind as she gathered more strength then she thought her legs could carry her, to run faster toward him.
In her daughters state, she didn’t have much of a choice. She was out of options. The doctors didn’t know what to do. All the people she knew couldn’t help her. Even her gods couldn’t answer her. She knew her daughters problem summed up in this: demon possession.
We find our mom of Faith in the middle of Matthew 15, after Jesus had just given a lecture to the Pharisees and his disciples on what truly defiles a man. Our story starts here:
Matthew 15:21-23 NLT
Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the Region of Tyre and Sidon.
A 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.”
But 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.”
WHERE JESUS IS
Verse 21 says that Jesus left Galilee and went north to her area. Have you ever wondered why he did that? And why Matthew chose to place this story of Faith directly after teaching his disciples about what is unclean? An unclean woman comes after Jesus. What will he do with her?
Mark also places this story before Jesus’s explanation of defilement, as Mark states:
Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret.
Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit
CHARACTERISTICS IN THE CANAANITE WOMAN
With these first few chapters in our story, I see some characteristics of this woman who every Christian could benefit from imitating:
1.) She came to Jesus pleading.
She found out where God was moving, got up from where she was at, found him, and started pleading with him for the healing and deliverance of her daughter. Some other versions say she was crying out. She was desperate, and she was not going to stay silent to the only man who could help her daughter.
2.) She wasn’t taking silence for an answer. She wasn’t too proud to beg, and scripture says it got to the point of where it bothered the disciples. They wanted Jesus to tell her to go away.
Have you ever been in a situation where you asked God for something, and you heard nothing? Silence. No direction, no leading or fancy verses to grab your attention, just… silence?
I want to urge you not to give up. Even when people, even church people tell you to give up, keep pressing in to God for your answer. Don’t let the Lord’s silence make you think that He doesn’t care, or didn’t want you to ask in the first place. Even if you get a ‘no’ from Him, at least it’s not silence.
THE ANSWER SHE DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR
Matthew goes on:
Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
How crushing. She made her way, spent herself to get to this man, and here He was, telling her that He wasn’t sent to help her. Not that He COULDN’T but that He WOULDN’T.
I’ve heard commentaries on this story saying that Jesus already knew he would help her, and that He was just looking for her faith to come out. Do you think she knew that? Or, was she so distraught by the greatness of her need, that she was beyond turning away?
THE UNCOMMON WORSHIPPER
Verse 25 shows us that what Jesus said wasn’t going to enough to stop her. She comes to him, worships Him, continuing to plead for his help.
The fact that she is worshipping him here is a significant thing. She’s saying by her worship in saying ‘You are the Messiah I know who you are, and that your worthy to ask this ask because of who you are. ‘
Do we forget when we pray to worship Him? It’s a very important element in going to God’s throne room.
Psalm 100:4 says we enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. That is the beginning point for us, as we come before that court and petition God for our needs. He is not just a gift giver; He is our eternal God and our deepest love; He loves our worship, and it somehow changes our perspective, so that when we ask, our motives would be cleansed and purified. By acknowledging who He is, we bring His presence, and an understanding of it into our lives.
AGAINST ALL HOPE
Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
I slightly cringe when I read this statement by Jesus. I’ve always thought in the past, “that cruel call her a dog, Jesus!” And many others have told me the same.
But we need to understand what exactly Jesus means when He says this. We read other parts of the gospel accounts of Jesus associating with tax collectors, lepers, sinners, and even a Samaritan woman, so we think, “How could you say that to this woman?”
But we need to understand a couple of things.
1.) This woman, who scripture says was a Canaanite woman, hailed from a people who Israel had been originally told to destroy as they were the people who were inhabiting Israel’s land before it became their own. Christian courier says:
Accordingly, with reference to this woman who lived in the sea-coast region in northwestern Israel, he calls her a “Canaanite” lady. The pagan inhabitants of the land which Israel conquered under Joshua were known as Canaanites, being descended from Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Gen. 9:18). Many of the Canaanites had been pushed northward into Phoenicia when the Hebrews invaded the territory. This woman was designated as a Canaanite because her ancestry was of these despised enemies of Israel.
2.) This is hard to swallow, but WHAT HE SAID WAS TRUE. Yes, she is a human being and not a physical dog, but if it’s true that God the father sent Jesus only to the lost sheep of Israel (and Jesus didn’t lie just to see what she would say, because He doesn’t lie), then He had every right to continue on His way, and not help her.
Do you remember what happened when Jesus went into vicinities like Nazareth, his hometown? All he could do was heal a few people, because of THEIR UNBELIEF. Jesus is all-powerful, but their own unbelief kept back the miraculous hand of God from working greatly in their lives. (Matthew 13:58)
3.) And remember, He had just finished speaking to his disciples about what really makes a man unclean. There’s a deeper truth that’s had then he just won’t help the non-Jew.
THE ANSWER THAT CHANGED IT ALL
And then, these words stumble out of her mouth:
She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”
I don’t think her response was well thought, or that she contemplated it for a long time. She was in a point of great need, and the one man in the entire world who could help her just told her it’s not right to.
Maybe she could envision the dinner scene in her mind, or maybe she had a dog at home, and she remembered how troublesome they could’ve been at the dinner table. I certainly envisioned it.
But she remembered that even though dogs are lowly, they STILL GET FED, and fed by the greatest force – the mercy of their owners feeding them scraps.
That statement right there was humble AND filled with Faith. And that’s what conquered Jesus’s heart.
“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
He responded to her faith. What would’ve happened to her daughter if she had taken Jesus’s first, or even second reply as a final answer? She applied her faith to know that, just as Jesus taught that God cares for the birds of the air, He most certainly has love and mercy available to those who believe.
FAITH IS THE KEY
God is no respecter of persons. What He did for one, he can do for another, but he always responds to faith. And what is Faith?
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
If I sit on a chair, I have to put some measure of faith in it to believe it will hold me up if I sit in it. The same could apply to the pilot of an aircraft. I board the plane in faith knowing I’ll reach my destination with him flying safely, and he comes through on his promise. But I have to step into the plane, not just say I’m going to buy a ticket and fly somewhere.
Jesus said her faith was great, and that got her daughter healed INSTANTLY.
It wasn’t that she just had this mystery concept called Faith, but that she demonstrated her faith by coming to Jesus in the first place, worshipping Him as the messiah, not going away even when met with opposition, and then acknowledging God’s own mercy on her, even if she didn’t deserve it.
It was bold.
It was unheard of.
It was desperate.
It was exactly what worked.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE CANAANITE WOMAN
I find a timeless truth in this particular mom of Faith, even though her story is short, she was not known as a godly woman, and we don’t even know her name. If you come to Jesus with your burden, with worship, acknowledging the truth, not giving up, and showing your faith in action, not just your words, it holds the elements for answered prayer.
She reminds me very much of the story of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18. Jesus used that story as an example that we, his disciples should pray and never give up. She didn’t give up, and she got her answer.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What about you? Have you seen an answer to prayer that took years of tenacious, long-standing believing and asking to see? Are you waiting on God to move on a promise for you or your family and friends? Might I urge you today to do something today, to say to God that you are serious about where and Whom you put your faith in? It could be that God is waiting on you. Jesus is our great Deliverer, and He longs to help you and take you places where you can never go yourself.
Please comment below with a story of how God answered your long-awaited prayers and we can all encourage each other. Testimonies are inspiring!