#13 Women of God: Canaanite woman
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Jesus intentionally went into Gentile territory (Matt. 15: 21; Mark 7:31). While there he met a woman who persistently requested her daughter’s healing. Jesus was about to engage her in a conversation that would lead her to understand that she needed Him as her Saviour.
She asked for ‘mercy…O Lord, Son of David” (Matt. 15:22). Jesus, the Word made Flesh, had His mind in David’s Psalm 103 where the LORD is described as “abounding in mercy” (v8) but He doesn’t answer, yet. The disciples wanted to send her away but Jesus continued to draw out her thinking. He was the Son of David.
He told her that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel: “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel" (Psa. 103:7). Just as God had saved the children of Israel, so He could redeem her life from destruction (v4) if she sought Him to. At this stage, however, the woman was still focussed on her immediate physical need. “She came and fell at His feet” (Mk. 7:25) and implored Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
Jesus knew that mercy for healing and salvation was towards any who feared Him: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (Psa. 103:11). However, this woman hadn’t yet acknowledged her relationship to her Saviour so Jesus continued.
Jesus reminded her that it wasn’t good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the harmless little pet dogs (Matt. 15:26). Jesus was ever so gently leading her to understand that “the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psa. 103:13-14). She needed to be a part of the family who fears God.
The woman quickly grasped the point and responded that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fell from the master’s table (Matt. 15:27). She realised that it was in putting all her trust in the Saviour and His generous grace and mercy that her daughter would be healed. She now wanted to be a part of the Saviour’s family.
What could Jesus say in the face of such a demonstration of faith in Jesus the Messiah? “O woman. Great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (Matt. 15:28).
We are reminded today to “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases” (Psa. 103:2-3).