As I glanced through the latest round of emails to cross my desk, one message stood out. The writer spoke of the woman whose daughter had a demon, and had followed Jesus to the point whereby even His disciples had become weary of her cries. Here was a woman standing in the gap of life for her daughter, and she was not taking no for an answer. Matthew explains the context this way:
“Then Jesus went thence and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried unto Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, [Thou] Son of David! My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I am not sent but unto the sheep of the house of Israel.”
Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not meet [good] to take the children’s bread and cast [it] to dogs.” And she said, “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it unto you even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:31-37)
What struck me from the commentary is that Jesus – the Light of the world — could not be hid. Herein, the disciples are tired of the scribes and Pharisees, and naysayers, who were determined in their hearts to trick Jesus, for they wanted Him dead. In fact, they had just asked Jesus why His disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders – and washed not their hands when they ate bread. I am sure, for the disciples, it was yet another “sigh” moment.
But even worse, Jesus, in responding to the scribes and Pharisees offended them, and the disciples told Him so, for I am sure by now, even they recognized the authority’s motives and that possibly, their own lives in danger as well. In so doing, the disciples might have hoped Jesus would tame His words and become more peaceable in His teachings. Water them down somewhat, as we hear often in our modern-day world.
What did Jesus say to offend? “Every plant which My Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matthew 15:13-14)
And, of course, Peter wants to know the meaning of this parable. But Jesus asks, “Are ye also yet without understanding?” There is more that goes into this conversation, but you see my point. It had already been a long day the disciples, and that was before this woman appeared on the scene, crying in anguish for her daughter to be healed.
As we learn from this example, the disciples of Jesus wanted Him to send the woman away. The woman’s pleading for her daughter’s restoration having become too much for them to bear. Yet, here she was, simply crying out for Jesus to do what she knew He could do in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And her determination to not let go was wearing on the disciples.
What we also see here, is that the glory of Jesus cannot be hid from those who know in their hearts that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The prophesied Christ who would save His people from their sins. The Lord of glory coming forth as a mighty man to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, and most of all, preach the good news gospel which sets us free from the yoke of bondage in this world. (Isaiah 42:13; Isaiah 9:6)
After His kindness and love, God became our Saviour. (Titus 3:4-7)
How do we know? Because even in this woman’s anguish, she called out to Jesus, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, [Thou] son of David.”
In her heart, she knew who Jesus was, and she wasn’t about to miss out on His promises – the blessings which He promised to those who desire to follow Him. Was this woman one of the multitude in attendance when Jesus had taken His disciples up into the mountain to teach them specifically, and the crowds gathered all around Him nevertheless. Was this woman one of those who were astonished at His doctrine, and could not let go of His promise to “Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you”? (Matthew 7:7)
I can only surmise, because the answer is not clearly given. What we do know is that upon the mountain, Jesus had said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, let they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6)
It is this sprinkling of His Word – His doctrine of truth — that could not stay dormant in this woman’s heart, even if Jesus’ words here were not first hand. Nevertheless, Jesus’ words offered a glimmer of hope for both her and her daughter. And, consequently, she was not prepared to let go and be trampled down by the powers that be any longer, and this included Jesus’ disciples. The words of Jesus had taken root in her heart, and the result, is that she desired more of Him.
Therefore, when Jesus said “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs” she already had formulated a just answer in her heart. By faith, she knew that the Lord could heal her daughter. She also knew that even the measly crumbs from the Master’s table were sufficient to do so.
“Truth, Lord,” she said, “yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:27) Or, as Mark scribes her response — “Yes, Lord; yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.” (Mark 7:27)
Indeed, this woman recognized Jesus to be the Bread of Life, and that even the crumbs from His table were far superior to having all the somethings that this world might offer. The Lord has a plan and purpose for our life and this woman was willing to do what it took to seek His blessing for her. It is no wonder the woman’s daughter was restored to wholeness. Jesus said, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” (Matthew 15:28; Luke 7:9)
If only, we would desire even the crumbs from the Master’s table, how therein, our life would change.