Just like this woman of faith, we should come to God -despite how many obstacles may be in our way. Steph Nickel talks about one of the great women of the Bible, who also just so happened to be a Canaanite.
Woman of Faith
Matthew 15:21-28 says, “And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”
Understanding the Culture
This is one of those difficult stories, one that makes us question Jesus Christ’s love and kindness. But it is one of those portions of Scripture that emphasizes the importance of 1) knowing a little about the culture in Bible times and 2) remembering each story, each chapter, each book is part of the whole. The more we know of God’s Word, the more complete the picture, the more in-depth our understanding.
A good rabbi at that time would have had nothing to do with a Canaanite woman. This woman knew that, but she also knew that her love for her daughter was much stronger than any concerns she had for herself.
When Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” was he chastizing this woman or was the Lord simply giving voice to His disciples’ motives when they urged their Master to send her away? I’m inclined to believe the latter. After all, Jesus knew how this situation would play out from the beginning.When this desperate mother knelt before Him and asked for His help, again, He said something that seems harsh and hard for us to fathom. He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Ouch!
But don’t forget His audience. As I said, He knew what He was going to do for this woman and her daughter, but He was also taking the opportunity to teach His disciples a lesson—and by extension, those of us who would read this story thousands of years later.
Perseverance and Faith
Perseverance and faith . . . this Canaanite woman is one of the best examples of these traits in all of Scripture. She didn’t slink away. She didn’t storm off. Instead, she responded as most of us wouldn’t even have thought to respond. She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” She didn’t argue. She didn’t try to convince Him her daughter was as deserving of healing and deliverance as anyone else. Her faith was so strong that she knew even the crumbs from Jesus’ table were enough.
I believe what the Lord said next reveals His heart: “‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” I believe what Jesus said earlier reflected society’s perspective—not His.
What can we learn from the Canaanite Woman?
What lessons can we learn from this woman’s encounter with the Saviour?
1. We can—and should—come to Him despite what others think of us.
2. The Lord doesn’t judge us by the same standards others use, even when it may seem that way.
3. We should have faith in His ability and His willingness to meet our needs and the needs of those we love.
4. No matter how many obstacles we face, we should continue to persevere in prayer. God responds to expressions of faith.
5. At just the right time, He will act—and it will be wonderful.
Just a quick aside . . . If the Lord chooses not to give us exactly what we ask for, we can still trust Him to work out His plans and purposes for our good and for the good of others.
What does this mean specifically for our children?
1. God doesn’t think of them the same way bullies do. He loves them and wants what’s best for them.
2. They can talk to Him about everything. It’s okay to ask Him for the same thing more than once.
3. It’s important not only to pray for our own needs but also for the needs of family members, friends, and others.
4. They can trust the Lord to do what’s best.
5. Their faith pleases God—even though they are young and sometimes don’t feel very important.
Learn about other Women of the Bible:
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
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Images courtesy of:
Jesus and the Woman of Canaan – Micheal Angelo Immenraet
The Canaanite Woman- The Limbourg Brothers