The Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, 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. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 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. Matt 15:21-28 (KJV)
V21: the Stage is set:
In text previous to this, our Lord has been scorned and repudiated by the leaders of the Jewish religion. He is a gentleman and does not long linger where He is not invited – even in the hearts of the hypocrites. But He does travel across whatever distance is needful for those who seek His face. In Galilee, many of his healings were of physical ailments and deformities, but He makes whole of all He touches including those hurts and debilities that are ‘spiritual’ in nature. There is a woman on the coast of Tyre and Sidon who bears a spiritual problem in her daughter who is “vexed with a devil.”
The faith of this woman is found to be a great faith, and worth the trying of Christ as a demonstration of that faith which He expects of His disciples. Christ is journeying outside the limits of Israel. He has gone for a rest from the great turmoil stirred up by his ministry in Israel. He seeks seclusion. But more importantly, He has an appointment with a Syro-Phoenician woman along the coast of Tyre and Sidon. The Lord never went anyplace without a firm reason.
Let’s refer back to the 7th chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark beginning at the 24th verse:
24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre an Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
The distance from Genneserat (where the Lord began the journey) was a distance of about 35 miles by foot. He was already tired and weary, yet He made the trip for the sake of a woman whose heart was breaking for her little daughter.
The woman who came out from Canaan was not a member of the Jewish religion. Today, she would not be considered a church member. She was plainly an ‘outsider’ seeking the benefits of Christ. She was a gentile woman who would soon become a member of the household of Israel.
Notice her approach to Jesus: “O Lord, thou Son of David?” This is an acknowledgement of WHO Christ is. She did not approach Him as the rich young ruler in Mark:
Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, GOOD MASTER, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life.
This woman calls Jesus LORD and “Son of David”. She obviously did not learn this through religious education, but by inspiration. She was a woman of wisdom who sought good for her daughter.
You will notice that she did not demand anything or ask for a right to be granted. She asked only for Mercy!
She was a good mother and had a burning desire to help her daughter. How many daughters are disobedient today to God, and yet their mother’s do not bring the issue to Christ in prayer?
How many sons are associating with unsavory persons, yet their parents care not?
How many young people are living together out of wedlock or some other shameful lifestyle, yet the parents are silent before God – or worse, even assist them to do evil?
This was no such woman. She was a lady of character and insight. She knew only one resolution for the problem of her daughter – and that was Christ!
It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and to be earnest in prayer for them, especially for their souls. Have you a son, a daughter, grievously vexed with a proud devil, an unclean devil, a malicious devil, led captive by him at his will? This is a case more deplorable than that of bodily possession, and you must
bring them by faith and prayer to Christ, who alone is able to heal them.
Christ answered not a word to the woman. Have you ever prayed diligently and received no answer right away. Did you give up asking? Not this woman. Christ was testing this woman’s faith as a testimony, not only to his present disciples, but to us today. He knew already the woman would persist because He looks upon the heart and not the outward appearance.
Notice how those close to Christ attempted to keep the woman from appealing to Christ? Just like blind Bartimaeus:
Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.
48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
The disciples, those close to Jesus, those who are IN the church, try to prevent the blind Bartimaeus, the little children, and now this woman, from making appeal directly to Christ. Why? Pride. Maybe greed. Often it is those who are in the Church whose selfish deeds and lifestyles keep others from coming to Christ.
They think themselves more privileged than others. This was demonstrated also in Matthew 19:13:
13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus told the woman that he was sent only to the “lost of the House of Israel,” the woman pressed on with her petition. She came closer even and worship him (Mark 7:24)
Jesus told the woman: “It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.” This is not a harsh comment, but a gentle one. The Greek word here for ‘dogs’ is ‘puppies.’ How does the woman respond? Her response sealed her petition’s grant as well as her salvation, as she became a full-fledged member of Israel and a daughter of Abraham – though a lost gentile previously. “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Gal 3:7-9.
“But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.” Even a bread crumb is still bread, is it not?
How could Jesus send one of so great a faith away empty? He would not!
Because of her great humility AND persistence, Jesus paused long enough for the situation to be absorbed by the disciples. And because of her great faith, He knew that He would grant her prayer.
When Christ answers prayers, He grants us a total remedy – not partial.
Jesus noted the great faith of this woman who was foreign to the Jewish faith. She was not a church member, but her faith was great. Jesus said: “O woman, great is thy faith.”
Jesus granted her the desire of her heart: “be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.”
How great is your faith? Do you pray for your sons and daughters? Do you demand an answer, or do you ask only for mercy depending upon the great love and compassion of God? The Canaanite woman ask only for mercy.
“Go thou and do likewise.”