Her people lived in the land of Canaan before Joshua brought the Children of Israel across the river Jordan.
In the estimation of the Jews, she counted as less than human, no more than a dog in the streets. Jesus was of a different view. He had heard the words of His cousin John standing in that same Jordan: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”—not just the Jews but the Gentiles, too. The prophets were clear on this, but the Jews of that day hurried over the parts that didn’t fit their narrative.
Tyre and Sidon
These two cities near the Mediterranean Sea were famous for merchandise, fishing, crafts, and sin. The Canaanites who lived there were the descendants of the people conquered by the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan. They served a nasty pagan god named Baal, a highly adaptable source of evil—each village had its own little Baal.
Amazingly, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, expecting nothing but contempt from His men, but desperately hoping that He was different. Two things about this woman are remarkable:
- She knew about the Jewish Messiah—she called Jesus, “Son of David.”
- She knew the power of the spirit world—her daughter was demon possessed.
We know from the writings of Apostles that household idols could host demons. This poor woman had been betrayed by her native religion. Her worship of Baal had introduced her child to a demon. She knew that hell could not cast out hell. When she heard about Jesus, she decided that He, a Jewish Rabbi, was her only hope. She braved the prejudice and pleaded her case.
Playing the Game
Jesus tested her faith by pretending to be just another prejudiced man, referring to her as a dog. Her brave reply moved the heart of the Savior.
“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
She called Him Lord! The leaders of the People of God called Him Satan and this pagan mother called Him Lord.
“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”
Her daughter was instantly delivered. Then Jesus left that city to find a place to preach. He had come all that way to the region of Tyre and Sidon to rescue the daughter of a pagan woman. But He was just getting started. A great healing revival broke out and God, the God of Moses, and Joshua, and Jesus, was glorified.
Prejudice offends God.
We marvel that one group of people would consider another group of people as no better than dogs. We should not marvel. There was a time in the USA when Negros were considered only a fraction of a human being for the purposes of the census and congressional representation. Race prejudice has raised its ugly head in every civilization on the planet. The only One who has an answer for it is Jesus. He can remove it from the heart. He can exalt each individual to a place of equality. The Sermon on the Mount does this; it is the constitution of the Kingdom of God. How do we please God? Love Him and love our neighbors. How do we offend Him? Treat others like dogs.
Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Matthew 6:26-27; 10:29-31
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Lord Jesus, help me love everybody. I want to treat people as equals. You love everyone, even the most unlovely and the most unlovable. I need help with that. From the homeless person I see on my way to church walking the street early on Sunday morning, to the prisoner behind bars, to the elderly lost in a fog and cared for my strangers to well-off in their fancy cars and snoozing in their elaborate homes in gated communities, to the radical spewing hatred, help me love them all and to show it by praying for them. They are not dogs; they are worth Your agony on the cross. Lord Jesus, help me love everybody. Amen.
Jesus Loves the Little Children
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.