A Lesson Learned from A Foreigner
In Matthew 15:21 - 28, Matthew tells the story of a Syro-Phoenician woman who pleads to Jesus for a miracle. The story reads as follows,
Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
Matthew 15:22 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.
Matthew 15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
Matthew 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Matthew 15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
Matthew 15:28 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.
When we look at this account closely, this is what we see. Jesus' initial silent treatment of this Canaanite woman was intentional. It was not to mistreat the woman but to teach the disciples and us a few lessons. It seemed the disciple's response was one of disdain. It was pretty much like "get rid of her." After the disciples speak out to Christ, Jesus speaks to the woman. His answer to the woman can seem very rude. However, it was in line with His intention of teaching the lesson to His disciples. What things did this event teach us all?
1. Jesus' love crossed gender lines. The disciples needed to learn that God did not see females as inferior to males. God created them, and in Jesus, God was redeeming them also. He listened to the woman and answered her prayer.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye is all one in Christ Jesus.
2. Jesus' love crossed ethnic/racial/national lines. Again, the disciples needed to learn that God does not favor one group over the other. If the disciples were to go out to the world with the gospel, they had to leave their bigotry, nationalism, prejudices, and discriminative attitudes behind. Only Jesus can do this. Tolerating is not enough; you must love (agape) others.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
3. Faith is in anyone who believes regardless of their background.
Romans 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
4. God will test your Faith. It will seem to you that He is ignoring you. He will appear to pay no heed to your petition. However, those who have faith will keep asking until God replies. That is what Paul did about his infirmity.
2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
5. The Canaanite woman admitted submitting herself to Christ as a puppy to its Master. Dogs have two distinct qualities about them that most owners like. They are loyal to and dependent on their Master. Are we loyal to God and dependent on Him? Puppies follow their Master everywhere, as sheep follow their shepherd.
John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
John 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
This passage perhaps gives us the perfect image of discipleship. A disciple is a puppy sitting at his Master's feet and feeding off the crumbs that fall from the Master's table.