Extended reading: Matthew 15:12-20 Jesus explains the parable of unclean lips
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Reading this passage today, I am amazed anew about this woman’s boldness before Jesus! If Jesus, master of the universe, would say to me, “This isn’t right…,” would I dare offer another perspective on the subject? Forget whether Jesus’ analogy of giving children’s bread to dogs meant he was comparing Canaanites to dogs. The bigger picture for me is that, like an astute defense lawyer who presents another side in a courtroom, this mother dares to answer back in the same symbolic language to say that her child deserves to be healed.
Now Jesus praises her, moving from prosecution attorney to judge in one swift move. “You have great faith!” And her daughter was healed. Might I add, she also had great love and persistence. She is, in a way, a great example of prayer, compressed into a single conversation between her and her maker. She certainly had faith that Jesus could heal her daughter. She approached Jesus with humility, happy for even a crumb. But she wasn’t going to give up, because she loved her daughter.
Do you have a great prayer need? Have you voiced that prayer again and again? Hold on to her example, to believe that God hears you and is working to bring resolution to your request, as we continue to pray in faith and persistence. Look even for crumbs as evidence that God hears you and wants the best for you. And keep believing, because it is faith that God may reward.
Gracious God, I confess that my prayers are too timid; I fail to believe you will answer even with crumbs and pray not expecting any results. Let me pray humbly and expectantly, but also boldly, because I know you love me. Let me trust you as I pray and believe that as you healed a foreign woman’s child, so you will hear my prayers as well. I love you, Lord. Amen.