There’s nothing worse than being a parent and watching your child suffer. It breaks out heart, so if you learn of a possible cure, you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it happen. That’s the case in today’s story of the Canaanite Woman, a mother willing to take on Jesus in order to get the needed healing for her daughter.
Jesus was tired. He’d been dealing with the religious leaders in Jerusalem and needed a break. So He and His disciples went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. This was basically enemy territory for the Jews. One would think that they could escape from notice for a bit and get some much needed rest, but as they got there, they were approached by a Canaanite woman begging for Jesus to heal her demon possessed daughter.
When the woman found out Jesus was in their land, she sought Him out. She yelled out to Him, calling Him Lord, Son of David, and begging Him to heal her daughter. Instead of acknowledging her, he ignored her. His disciples urged Him to send her away because she was annoying. Instead, He said, “I was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Undaunted, she came closer, falling to His feet, worshipping Him, saying, “Lord, Help me.”
He answered, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Again, not discouraged, she counters.
“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
I can picture the smile on Jesus’ face as He closes the discussion.
“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”
And from that moment, her daughter was healed.
The Rest of the Story
What an audacious amount of courage it must have taken this woman to reach out to Jesus. There was literally no reason for her to believe He would honor her request. She was a Gentile, a Canaanite, and a woman.
Jesus was a Jew. Everyone knew He was there for the Jews. She wasn’t a Jew. Jews didn’t go out of their way for Gentiles. In fact, they went out of their way to avoid them.
Not to mention, she was a Canaanite. The feud between Israelites and Canaanites had been going on since the days of Abraham. The Canaanites were idolatrous people scorned by the pious Jews.
Not to mention, she was a woman. Women knew their place. They knew that it was unacceptable to call out to a man in public.
And yet, this woman was above all, a mother. And this mother’s pride and joy was suffering. She couldn’t sit around and do nothing. She had to do whatever it took to get the help her daughter needed.
Though this woman was a pagan, she recognized who Jesus was and knew that He could heal her daughter. Furthermore, she wasn’t going to stop until He did.
This interaction with Jesus is hard for us to understand. Jesus comes across as harsh and unkind. But you’ll note that she didn’t take it that way. She understood what He was saying and responded in kind.
We don’t know why He said what He did. Was He genuinely tired and not wanting to be bothered? I don’t think so. That doesn’t go along with His character.
Was He sincere about His mission? Of course. He was sent for the Jews. But that didn’t mean He couldn’t be there for the Gentiles as well. And though His disciples may not have gotten that, she did. She knew that even if He gave Jews His top priority, He still had enough grace and mercy to go around. All she was asking for was a tiny piece of His healing power.
Her persistence paid off. He recognized her sincere faith. Though she was a Gentile raised in a pagan culture, she knew who Jesus was and confessed Him as Lord and Savior. How could He not, then, answer her request?
We’re told that from that moment on, her daughter was healed. Jesus didn’t have to go the house. He didn’t have to meet the daughter. No, all He had to do was to acknowledge the mother’s faith and her daughter was healed.
Have you ever felt unworthy to call out for help? Perhaps you’re caught up in your past or feelings of insecurity. If so, you can find comfort in this story of the Canaanite woman. If she’d listened to those around her, she wouldn’t have had the courage to seek out Jesus. If she’d allowed herself to get easily discouraged, she wouldn’t have persevered when it looked like Jesus was ignoring her or dismissing her. It wasn’t until she confronted Him and demonstrated her tenacious faith that He granted her request.
He knows who you are. He sees your heart. He knows the needs you have. But He wants you to have the courage and the faith to come to Him with your problems.
Don’t listen to those who would tell you you’re not good enough to come to Him. Ignore those who tell you He won’t care about your problems. When it seems He’s silent, keep praying. Continue to pray until you get a response. It may or may not be the answer you wanted, but when He responds, you will know. You will have that peace that comes from knowing that He hears you and loves you and is watching out for you. Keep persisting until you get that peace.
Lord God, thank You for being no respecter of persons. Thank You for loving us and caring for us no matter who we are. Thank You for never being too busy to hear the cries of one of Your children. Forgive us for those times when we forget to take our cares to You. Forgive us for giving up too soon and for falsely believing that You don’t hear us or else You don’t care. Give us the strength we need to persevere through the times of waiting. Give us a peace to reassure us that we’re not alone. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at a woman caught in adultery.
Her Story: Matthew 15:21-25, Mark 7:24-30
Bible Study Review
- Why did the woman seek out Jesus?
- What was Jesus’ initial response to her?
- How did the disciples respond to her?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did the Jews try to avoid the area of Tyre and Sidon?
- Why would Jesus ignore her at first?
- Why did Jesus eventually heal her daughter?
- Are you ever afraid to approach God for fear you’re not good enough?
- Are you willing to persevere if you don’t get a response immediately?
- When was the last time you showed tenacious faith?
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