Matthew 15:27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (NIV)
She was an outsider and a foreigner. She had no claim on Jesus and was not part of the Jewish nation. What she had was a daughter whom she dearly loved and like any other parent, she wanted the best for her child who was seriously ill. The Syro-Phoenician woman in today’s Gospel story (Matthew 15:21-28) had heard about Jesus, so when she saw Him, she immediately ran to him, fell on her knees, and asked for healing.
She did not know what to expect. Christ’s disciples had already tried to send her back to where she came from because her crying and wailing disturbed them. But the woman was persistent and wouldn’t back down. Jesus had the power to help her child, so she kept on battering against the wall of prejudice that was in front of her, in a desperate effort to get Him to respond to her pleas.
Initially, Jesus says and does nothing and then He points out that His mission is to His own people first. Did she expect Him to give her from the blessings that God intended for the Jews? Or as Jesus put it, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
And then this foreign woman speaks the best come-back in the whole Bible, “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Her tenacity is relentless and her faith in Christ’s ability is undaunted. Jesus grants her what she may not have been entitled to, the immediate healing of her demon-possessed daughter, which now meant that Christ’s ministry and mission went beyond any borders, any barriers, any walls between nations and ethnic communities.
It’s called ‘Grace,’ and it happens because Christ comes down among us, breaking down the barriers between Heaven and Earth, as well as bridging the gap between God and humanity. It means we are given an amazing blessing, of which we are not entitled or worthy, but only because God wants to share it, so that we may freely enjoy His love and kingdom forever.
Point to ponder
Am I aware that I am not worthy of God’s grace? How thankful am I to receive this unentitled blessing? How willing am I to share this gift with others, especially those unlike myself?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for healing the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter. Thank You for hearing her plea and showing us God’s grace at work. We know that we cannot earn such a sacred blessing, but we are grateful for the bounty of Your love, mercy, and grace in our lives. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Today’s image is one of John’s Communion drawings which reminds us of God’s grace. If you would like to view a larger version, click this link: Communion.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can view the church website at this link: www.erinpresbyterian.org.