Benjie Bensing

We all have needs; we all have wants. And sometimes our needs overpower our sanity making us vulnerable to commit budgetary indiscretions that we will certainly regret when the bills start to accumulate at the end of the month.

photo credit: freebibleimages.org

photo credit: freebibleimages.org

Sometimes, it’s not just about financial difficulty; sometimes it could be a devastating relationship problem, or a life-threatening disease, impending prison sentence, academic nightmares at school, property damage, business loss, or loss of life of a loved one due to natural disaster or calamity, etc. Some are examining deep into their own souls and realize they are lost. Some might even look at life in retrospect and negatively conclude that they have made a big mess and there is nothing they can do to change things and correct past mistakes. They know that they are in trouble but the hardest part is that it seems there is no hope, no chance for redemption.

Do you feel like that today?

Let’s look at Matthew 15:21-28 and see if we can find help for our own lives.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

From the text, it is clear that her daughter is being oppressed by a demon. But what she did and what she said is even more remarkable as we can see later on. This Gentile woman came to Jesus because she needed help in a desperate way. And when you are desperate, you could either do something foolish or do something courageous. Whatever it is, desperate times calls for desperate measures.

She probably heard about Jesus and how He healed all kinds of diseases and how He set free a man possessed by a legion (thousands) of demons. She came to Jesus with nothing except hope and faith. In fact, she is convinced that she has no more hope except to turn to Jesus. She knew her dead religion cannot heal her daughter; she knew that even her best self-efforts cannot heal her daughter. Jesus is her only hope!

As we continue in verse 23 we find that no matter how she cried for help, even calling Jesus “Lord, Son of David”, she did not receive any reply: she was totally ignored. What we can learn from this incident is that sometimes God remains silent even when we are frantically crying for help. Why the silent treatment? It is comparable to a school teacher who prefers to be silent when giving a test. That test is not meant to scare or terrorize the students: it is meant to measure their proficiency level as a means of determining whether they “Passed” or “Failed” the subject matter. Next time, if God is silent, take it as a cue that you are on a test. God’s silence is not an indication of God’s unwillingness to meet your need. God’s silence is a means to test your faith and to remind you that He operates on a different time-table.

Another reason for the silent treatment is found in the preceding verse (verse 22), when she called Him “Lord, Son of David”. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with David that his descendants will forever rule and shepherd the flocks of Israel. As a Canaanite, a Gentile – a doomed race, and a resident of a region known for its vile religious practices, she has no right to approach Jesus, a Jewish Messiah, on that ground.

In fact, when the disciples see and hear this Gentile calling out to their Messiah, they react by telling Jesus to send her away! She was not one of their own people.

As Jesus speaks to this woman, in verse 24, His words appear harsh to our ears. His words must have shaken her to the very core of her being. His words probably broke her heart. She was not only ignored but she was told that Jesus came only to reach out to the lost sheep of Israel. And when she persisted, Jesus calls her a “dog” and as such she does not deserve the children’s bread. Wherever she look there is only a bleak reality as the disciples rejected her and now it appears that Jesus is rejecting her too. She felt hopeless.

What obstacles are you facing today? What would it take you to come near to God and get the help that you need?

Now the Jews during that time – and even earlier – looked at all non-Jewish people as dogs. The Greek word is “kuon” which means “mangy, dirty, cur” as used by Jesus Himself elsewhere in Matthew 7:6 and Luke 16:21. It connotes ceremonial uncleanliness. However, for some strange reason Jesus used the Greek word “kunarion” when referring to this woman. “Kunarion” means puppy, a little dog, a pet in the house, an animal that is looked on and treated as part of the family!

As Jesus speaks with this woman, He never slams the door of hope in her face. In Mark’s account in Mark 7:27 of this encounter, he records Jesus as saying, “Let the children first be filled…” That word “first” was what this broken-hearted mother needed to hear! Jesus did not say, “You cannot have what you are looking for!” Jesus said, “I have come to the children of Israel. And, they must be filled first.” She took that to mean that “seconds” were available. That’s it!

You see, these obstacles were not placed there to discourage and defeat this woman. The obstacles were placed there to strengthen and mature her faith.

Can you imagine the twinkle in Jesus’ eyes as He says this and how quickly she catches the meaning. She says, “Yes, it isn’t right to take the food from the children’s table and give it to the dogs. But, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”. She tried to reason out with Jesus that all she is asking for is a crumb – a dog’s portion. A crumb might have been all she could get; but she knew that a crumb from the hand of the Master would be more than enough blessings! She wouldn’t give up until she got what she needed!

Jesus was amazed at the depth of her faith! Her faith exceeded that of the people He had come to save. And He rewarded her faith by giving her exactly what she asked for; He healed her daughter! Her faith was so strong that she didn’t ask for proof, but she took Jesus at His word and turned around and went home to her family. When she arrived home, she saw her daughter completely healed. That’s the blessing from a crumb!



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