February 26 I Wednesday
“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.’”
At a time when Jesus sought solitude away from the crowds and the religious leaders bent on discrediting Him, He withdrew out of Jewish territory to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Mark’s Gospel tells us that when He got to Tyre, “He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it…” (Mark 7:24). His peace and solitude did not last long because a Canaanite woman, who knew who He was, came begging Him to heal her daughter from demonic possession.
Jesus did not answer right away, but she kept crying out to Him. His disciples urged Him to send her away, but Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman knelt before Him and pleaded, “Lord, help me!” He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:24-27).
This woman was not a Jew and not just any Gentile––she was a Canaanite. According to the Old Testament, the Canaanites were the occupants of Israel when Joshua had conquered it. Throughout succeeding generations, some had remained in or close to the land and kept their identity, but it was an identity in contrast to the Jews and their status. This woman was outside of the covenant God had made with Israel as well as the scope of Jesus’s ministry to the lost sheep of Israel.
Jesus replied, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted” (Matthew 15:28). What was the nature of her faith? She rightly recognized Jesus’s identity (Son of David), His position (Lord), her undeserving nature (have mercy on me), her dependency on Him (Lord, help me) and His ability to give to whom He willed (even dogs eat the crumbs). Recognizing who Jesus is and our dependency on Him are essential ingredients of faith. It was this faith that provoked Jesus’s response and the woman’s daughter was healed that hour.
The business of Jewish leaders was to study, expound and live the written revelation of God, but familiarity had bred contempt. Like the Jewish leaders, the more familiar we are with the things of God, the more complacent and casual we can become in relation to them. The essence of true godliness is captured in this woman seeking out Jesus and her faith in Him. Godliness is not trying to keep a set of daily rules, as the Pharisees did, but a living and active relationship with Jesus that is lived out every day in dependence on Him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may I never become casual in the things that concern You. Keep me with a fresh day-to-day dependency on You. Thank You, Lord.