The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 11
“As Jesus and His disciples seek some rest in the region of Tyre and Sidon, a woman from the region confronts them with a request that her daughter be healed: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed” (Mt.15:22).
Usually compassionate toward such requests, Jesus responds with a seeming callousness that is almost surprising. Matthew (the evangelist writing to reveal Jesus as King of the Jews) tells us that “He answered her not a word” (15:23). He ignores her completely, yet she is not rebuffed by His actions. Even His disciples implore Him to disregard her request—“And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us” (15:23). She continually cries out to Him, “Lord, help me!” In response, He rebukes her by reminding her that she has no relationship with Him. He is the Son of David; she, a Gentile, “a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth” (Mk. 7:26). Finally, He insults her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Mt. 15:26).
By now, most people would have given up in disgust. How dare this Man ignore them! How dare He rebuke them and not give them what they want! How dare He call them “dogs”! But, she is not like most—she has not come to be denied. She does not care that He won’t act on her bidding. She does not care not that He is showing her she isn’t in a family relationship. She even does not care that He has called her a little dog; this simply gives her the opening to humble herself even more in order to gain her daughter’s health, “This little dog will be happy to have just some crumbs from Your table.” Jesus’ response shows His heart—He always responds to true faith, “‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (15:28).
This scene reveals a number of truths about true faith:
Those who possess real faith recognize demonic activity for what it is and Jesus as the One who liberates.
Those who exhibit genuine faith in Christ don’t let who they aren’t interfere with their quest.
Those who have true faith will not quit after their first request seems to be ignored; they will persevere until they receive their request.
Those who have true faith will not be wounded by truth from the Master; they will humble themselves even further.
Those who see Jesus as their only hope will not allow the snub or dismissal of Jesus’ followers to prevent them from pressing forward.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Mk. 7:24-37; 8:1-21; Mt. 15:21-16:12):
Why does Jesus seem so reluctant to heal the Syro-Phoenician woman? Why does He finally relent? What does He praise about her?
What parallels appear between the feeding of the 5000 and the feeding of the 4000 in this passage? What are the differences? To what historical event do they point?
What actions and attitudes do those who bring their deaf-mute friend to Jesus display? How can they motivate us today?