Anglican Morning Devotion for 13 March 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” (Matthew 15:21-28; all scripture quoted is from the King James version)
Tyre and Sidon was a land of Gentile paganism in the region to the northwest of Israel. The land was populated by a variety of races but foremost were the Canaanites. The lectionary Gospel text for the 2nd Sunday in Lent gives us an example of a woman whose faith was based on a very limited knowledge, but the little faith she had was great as a mountain.
As Jesus was passing into the coast of Tyre and Sidon, he was approached by a dear lady who had suffered much on behalf of a daughter who was possessed of a demon. Like every mother, she loved her daughter dearly, but the demon that possessed her was destroying the glimmer of youth and health of her daughter. The daughter could scarcely be left alone for any period of time due to the destructive influence of the demon. She had doubtless sought counsel of those of the pagan religions of the land and found no comfort or satisfaction. She was at her last rung of the ladder in hope. But she had heard rumor of a man of Galilee who could resurrect the dead, heal lepers, restore sight to the blind, and even cast out demons. Of course, she had little hope of every appealing to this man, Jesus, for he had never been to the coastal region where the lady lived. She could not have found him even if she tried for the people of Israel were not friendly to those of the Canaanite race. But if a person desires to find God, God will find them.
One day as the woman was going about her daily chores, a small crowd of men approached. The locals were making quite a commotion over these strangers. Inquiring of a bystander, the woman learned that this man was the same Jesus that she had so ardently desired to see. Now, this woman had heard some news about Jesus. She knew that He was known as the Son of David to His followers. This was fulfillment of prophecies of the ancients. She moreover called Him Lord, for only God could cast out the demon from her daughter. Though she knew little, and her faith was based on limited knowledge, her faith was strong as a mountain rock. She desperately hailed to Him: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David!” Jesus heard the woman well, but acted as though He would ignore her cries for mercy. He did so to demonstrate to those in His close company that, though they knew Him much better than the woman, the woman’s tiny faith exceeded their own better informed faith. They even tried to get the Lord to send her away. It is often true that those closest to the Lord are the very ones that bar others from coming to Him. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” All who have not yet come to the faith in the promise made to Abraham are the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Those who have believed the promise are true children of Abraham.
The woman boldly came to Jesus and worshipped Him. One doesn’t not worship a mere man, but Jesus is God Incarnate and worthy of worship. This, the woman knew. “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” The word ‘dogs’ used here is not mean or belittling – in the Greek, the word means puppies, or pets around the table. The pets are also members of the household family and beg food from those at the table. Even a crumb of bread is still bread is it not? “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” This woman was persevering in prayer, and so should all be who appeal to the Lord of Lords. Persistence in prayer pays off. Though God may not answer according to our schedule, He does answer according to His own discretion: “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” The woman gained her heart’s desire from the Lord, and the disciples who knew far more about Him than the woman, learned a great lesson in faith and compassion.