Then Jesus replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.” And from that moment her daughter was cured.
Oliver, our family dog, is an opportunist. Suppertime for him is a chance to eat the crumbs and residue that fall from the table to the floor. He strolls around the table, head down, poised and ready, making sure he doesn't miss any crumbs that make their way down.
At the table, Oliver doesn’t get a seat—not like our children do. Our children have their own seats and are given the very best we have to give them. Their plates are full. No crumbs for them. Oliver, on the other hand, doesn’t discriminate. He’s pleased to receive whatever he can get.
In our reading today, we’re introduced to a woman who’s content to receive crumbs of mercy from Jesus. This Canaanite woman had a daughter who suffered from demon possession and she begged for mercy on her behalf. Surprisingly, Jesus answered with not a word.
His disciples urged Him to meet her need and send her away because her cries for help were becoming bothersome. But Jesus responded by saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” He wasn’t being rude, but instead consistent with his mission.
Earlier in Matthew 10, Jesus sent out His disciples and told them, “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus’ mission from the Father was to the Jews first and only then to the Gentiles.
But the woman wasn’t deterred. She had nothing to lose. She fell at His feet in an act of worship and begged Jesus to help her. And Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to their dogs.”
Jesus pushed her a little further by reminding her of the historic distinction between the cursed Canaanites and the blessed Israelites. At the same time, He was drawing out her faith.
Jesus commended her response in faith: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table!”
She knew well the privilege that was Israel’s in relation to God, but she wanted some of Jesus out-of-covenant mercy, His general saving grace available to everyone. By that point, anyone would’ve gotten discouraged and gone home, but this woman remained until the Lord answered her plea.
Jesus granted her request because she showed “great faith.” The irony of this story is that this woman, a non-heir to the promise of Israel, showed greater faith than the Jews, heirs to the promise, who were rejected and challenged Jesus’ claims.
She wanted just a small piece of what the Jews didn’t want. The crumbs of His mercy were enough for this woman and Jesus rewarded her for her great faith because “from that moment her daughter was cured.”
We learn from our passage today that Jesus honors the faith that seeks mercy. If we find contentment in even the crumbs of the Master, He’ll reward us with a great feast as He did for this helpless mother. This woman didn’t have a seat at the table, so to speak, but Jesus was pleased to reward her for her persistent and enduring faith.
- In what manner is the woman’s plea—casual or desperate? Does the manner in which you come to Jesus make a difference?
- What do you think the disciples learned from this event?
- How can you live in such a way that Jesus applauds your faith?