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The Persistent Phoenician Woman Part 2

Last time we ended with these apparent cruel words.
Matthew 15:24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Sorry lady. You do not qualify for grace because you are not Jewish. Have you experience the pain of rejection and discrimination?
That is, Jesus was sent primarily to the Jews, though when occasion offered, He did not deny the Gentiles the blessings He accorded His own people. It was not until many years after Christ had ascended to heaven that Jewish Christians fully grasped the fact that God considered all men everywhere eligible to become citizens of the kingdom of heaven
Although this answer appeared to be in accordance with the prejudice of the Jews, it was an implied rebuke to the disciples, which they afterward understood as reminding them of what He had often told them, — that He came to the world to save all who would accept Him.
Christ’s dealings with the non-Jews of Palestine were incidental to His ministry for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). If His labours for the chosen people were to meet with any measure of success, it was necessary that He should, outwardly at least, comply with custom. This should be to the extent that the Jewish leaders should have no occasion to accuse Him of breaking down the barriers they had erected against the Gentiles, wrong as those barriers were in many respects.
Otherwise, He would have destroyed His influence with the very people for whom He had come to labour. Today, Christian are to consider all men their equals before God, and to remember that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).
Matthew 15:25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” she said.
The woman urged her case with increased earnestness, bowing at Christ’s feet, and crying, This typical Oriental posture of supplication might be taken before objects of worship, or even before men, especially before superiors whose favour was sought. This woman’s use of the Messianic title “son of David” implies that she had at least a vague realization of who Jesus really was.
Jesus, still apparently rejecting her entreaties, according to the unfeeling prejudice of the Jews, answered,
Matthew 15:26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Bread. That is, the “bread” of salvation that God had entrusted to the Jews, His “children,” for distribution among the Gentiles, but which the Jews were selfishly hoarding to themselves
Dogs. Gr. kunaria, “little dogs,” here used as a reference to the Gentiles. The Jews felt the blessings of salvation would be wasted if given to the Gentiles, who, according to the opinion of the Jews, lacked the capacity to appreciate these blessings or to benefit by them.
Matthew 15:26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
That is not good. Here Christ expresses the characteristic Jewish attitude that the Gentiles were unworthy of the blessings of heaven.
This was virtually asserting that it was not just to lavish the blessings brought to the favoured people of God upon strangers and aliens from Israel. This answer would have utterly discouraged a less earnest seeker.
But the woman saw that her opportunity had come. Beneath the apparent refusal of Jesus, she saw a compassion that He could not hide.
Matthew 15:27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
While the children of the household eat at the father’s table, even the dogs are not left unfed. They have a right to the crumbs that fall from the table abundantly supplied.
Back of Jesus’ imitated indifference to her earnest appeal, she apparently detected the tender compassion that flowed in never-failing currents from His great heart of love.
The very fact that He deemed her worthy to discuss the matter with her was an incentive to give up. Even “little dogs” have a right to the “little morsels” their masters toss to them.
This remarkable woman is ready to accept any necessary level of humanity Christ may assign her, without so much as arguing the point, if He will only comply with her request.
Christ’s assumed attitude of disdain for the woman might conceivably have discouraged her, but undoubtedly He had confidence that her faith would not fail.
She seemed sure that Christ could grant her heart’s desire if only He would. Pride and prejudice meant nothing to her, and she would not let these deter her. Her faith and perseverance are truly commendable.
So, while there were many blessings given to Israel, was there not also a blessing for her? She was looked upon as a dog, and had she not then a dog’s claim to a crumb from His bounty?
Jesus had just departed from His field of labour because the scribes and Pharisees were seeking to take His life. They murmured and complained. They manifested unbelief and bitterness, and refused the salvation so freely offered them.
Here Christ meets one of an unfortunate and despised race, that has not been favoured with the light of God’s word; yet she yields at once to the divine influence of Christ, and has implicit faith in His ability to grant the favour she asks.
She begs for the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table. If she may have the privilege of a dog, she is willing to be regarded as a dog.
She has no national or religious prejudice or pride to influence her course, and she immediately acknowledges Jesus as the Redeemer, and as being able to do all that she asks of Him.
The Saviour is satisfied. He has tested her faith in Him. By His dealings with her, He has shown that she who has been regarded as an outcast from Israel is no longer an alien, but a child in God’s household.
As a child it is her privilege to share in the Father’s gifts. Christ now grants her request, and finishes the lesson to the disciples. Turning to her with a look of pity and love, He says,
Matthew 15:28 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.
She has met the test; her faith stands firm. She is certain that it is within the power of Christ to bestow the gift of health to her daughter.
Like the nobleman’s son (see John 4:43–54) and the centurion’s servant (see Luke 7:1–10), the daughter of the Canaanite woman was healed at a distance, not in Christ’s immediate presence, and as in each of the other cases, healing was immediate, complete.
From that hour her daughter became whole. The demon troubled her no more. The woman departed, acknowledging her Saviour, and happy in the granting of her prayer.
This was the only miracle that Jesus wrought while on this journey. It was for the performance of this act that He went to the borders of Tyre and Sidon.
He wished to relieve the afflicted woman, and at the same time to leave an example in His work of mercy toward one of a despised people for the benefit of His disciples when He should no longer be with them.
He wished to lead them from their Jewish exclusiveness to be interested in working for others besides their own people. Jesus longed to unfold the deep mysteries of the truth which had been hid for ages, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs with the Jews,
Ephesians 3:6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,
This truth the disciples were slow to learn, and the divine Teacher gave them lesson upon lesson. In rewarding the faith of the centurion at Capernaum, and preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of Sychar, He had already given evidence that He did not share the intolerance of the Jews.
Now Jesus brought the disciples in contact with a heathen, whom they regarded as having no reason above any of her people, to expect favour from Him. He would give an example of how such a one should be treated. The disciples had thought that He dispensed too freely the gifts of His grace. He would show that His love was not to be circumscribed to race or nation.
When He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” He stated the truth, and in His work for the Canaanite woman He was fulfilling His commission. This woman was one of the lost sheep that Israel should have rescued. It was their appointed work, the work which they had neglected, that Christ was doing.
Among those whom they had been taught to despise were souls longing for help from the mighty Healer, hungering for the light of truth, which had been so abundantly given to the Jews.
Afterward the Jews turned still more persistently from the disciples because they declared Jesus to be the Saviour of the world. When the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was broken down by the death of Christ, this lesson which pointed to the gospel work as unrestricted by custom or nationality, had a powerful influence upon the representatives of Christ, in directing their labours.
The same agencies that barred men away from Christ two thousand years ago are at work today. The spirit which built up the partition wall between Jew and Gentile is still active.
Pride and prejudice have built strong walls of separation between different classes of men. Christ and His mission have been misrepresented, and multitudes feel that they are virtually shut away from the ministry of the gospel.
But let them not feel that they are shut away from Christ. There are no barriers which man or Satan can erect but that faith can penetrate.
In faith the woman of Phoenicia flung herself against the barriers that had been piled up between Jew and Gentile. Against discouragement, regardless of appearances that might have led her to doubt, she trusted the Saviour’s love.
It is thus that Christ desires us to trust in Him. The blessings of salvation are for every soul. Nothing but his own choice can prevent any person from becoming a partaker of the promise in Christ by the gospel.
Caste is hateful to God. He ignores everything of this character. In His sight the souls of all men are of equal value.
Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
Acts 17:27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
Without distinction of age, or rank, or nationality, or religious privilege, all are invited to come unto Him and live.
Galatians 3:28 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.
Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise
Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all.
Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.”
Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
Jesus feeds 4000 heathen men besides their wives and children.

Updated on 1st Nov 2022

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