Lord, Help Me!
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
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.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21–28)
Never underestimate the power of humble, persistent prayer by someone who approaches in faith. This Canaanite woman’s actions clearly demonstrate to us the faithful and continuous seeking of the Master until obtaining the joy for which our soul longs. James tells us:
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Addressing Jesus with the Messianic title of “Lord,” she begs for mercy for her demon-possessed daughter. Boldly, humbly, and seriously this woman cries out to Jesus. The devil had her daughter in a dire and dreadful hold and she comes seeking the Master’s mercy.
She first meets with our Lord’s silence; He answers her not a word. Sometimes, when our prayers appear to be unanswered, God is teaching us to pray all the more. The more we feel the burden, the more we should pray. Evidently, this woman is undeterred by our Lord’s silence. The disciples encourage Jesus to simply get rid of her. They are annoyed by her continuous crying out. The disciples seem to be more concerned with their own comfort. They want to silence her troublesome pleas rather than consider this poor woman’s difficult circumstances. Thankfully, Jesus never turns any away who willingly seek Him.
Jesus initially responds to His disciples, yet within this woman’s hearing, that His mission at that time is to the lost sheep of Israel. While the sun and rain and fruitful seasons were and are given to all nations, there were special favors for His distinctive people, the Israelites. The woman breaks into the conversation and kneels before Jesus, again requesting His helping hand. His response is not what we are used to hearing from His kind lips: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
I believe we learn an important lesson in this encounter with Jesus. All who approach Christ must first realize their standing (or lack of it) before Him. The reality remains, if He were to present Himself to us in all His glory, no flesh could raise their face from the ground. This dear woman argues not against the truth of her standing with Jesus, but asks Him to consider that while she is not a child around his table of great grace and blessings, she is like a dog under His table … and even His dog is treated with kindness and mercy. She understands that any crumbs falling from the Lord’s precious table will sustain her.
In her humility, she is grateful to receive the “crumbs.” Nothing is gained by contradicting any word from Christ, even if His Word seems harsh. Amazed at her great faith, Jesus commends her and grants her request.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God and that He rewards those humbly and earnestly seeking Him:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Praise God that we who live on this side of the resurrection of Jesus no longer experience the distinction of either being “in” or “out” of God’s provision. Paul tells us:
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11)
As Christ-followers we have access to all that God so willing wants to give us!
Take It to Heart
“It was her faith that he commended. Several other graces shone brightly in her conduct here–wisdom, humility, meekness, patience, perseverance in prayer–but these were the results of her faith. Because faith, of all graces, honors Christ the most, he honors faith more than any other grace.” (Matthew Henry)