Christ’s purpose in the story of the Canaanite women was to teach the disciples a lesson in reaching for non-Jews, and this He did by acting out the contrast between the usual Jewish attitude and His own (v. 21). The typical Jewish teacher of the law would have done exactly what the disciples suggested that is to, send the pleading woman away without granting her request. In contrast, Jesus showed his willingness to help the Gentiles that sought Him. Jesus did not adopt the exclusiveness that the Jews felt toward Gentiles (Matt. 15:22, 26). And He showed how they were eligible for the privileges of the kingdom of heaven (Luke 4:26, 27).
The Jews believed that the blessings of salvation would be wasted if given to the Gentiles. So, Christ’s assumed an attitude of contempt for the woman only so that she will show her strong faith when he said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26). But the woman felt the tender compassion of Jesus’ love. The very fact that He was talking with her at all—instead of dismissing her, as the rabbis would have done—He gave her the determination to believe that He would answer her request. She seemed sure that Christ could grant her heart’s desire if only she would ask and persist (Mark 1:40).
Instead of being discouraged by His statement, the woman replied “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27). Jesus had confidence that her faith would not fail (1 Cor. 10:13). Pride and social prejudice didn’t stop her. Her faith and perseverance were truly commendable.
“Then Jesus answered and said to her, O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire. And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (v. 28). She passed the test; her faith stood firm and from that moment her daughter was healed. Jesus wanted to show the disciples that because her faith was “great,” she got what she asked for regardless of her being a gentile. In fact, her faith was stronger than many of the Jews who had all the privileges of God’s knowledge.
In this story, Jesus didn’t address the woman with a racial slur. He merely tested the woman’s faith to show her great faith and to teach His disciples that there are worthy souls among the Gentiles that needed God’s mercy.
In His service,
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