From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived
when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, "Mercy, Master, Son
of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil
Jesus ignored her.
Did I read that right? Did it really say that Jesus ignored her?
The disciples came and complained, "Now she's bothering us. Would you please
take care of her? She's driving us crazy."
Jesus refused, telling
them, "I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of
Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees,
and begged. "Master, help me."
He said, "It's not right to take
bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs."
And now he's calling her a dog?
She was quick: "You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table."
Jesus gave in. "Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!" Right then her daughter became well.
So what's up with this?
Was Jesus really calling her a dog - the equivalent of a slur in those days?
Yes, I believe He was. There's not much of a way around it. I've read the commentaries about it but frankly, I don't buy their take on it. They seem to be pretty concerned with protecting Jesus and I happen to believe that Jesus doesn't need protecting from the likes of us.
But isn't it out of character for Jesus to slam someone like that?
Maybe, but then again, He did call the religious leaders a "brood of vipers". And they were highly offended.
Here's my take on it...
I think Jesus, being God in the flesh, knew this woman. I believe He knew her character well enough to know that she would not be offended by the slur. I think she was one of those non-religious yet truly spiritual followers of Jesus who didn't try to put on pretenses but who was honestly able to admit her sinful state and had enough faith in Jesus to believe that He would honor her request. I think Jesus knew this in advance. I think He knew this lady practiced a more honest relationship with Him than did those who put faith in their holiness. And I think He knew this was a good opportunity to show that kind of faith to those who were watching.
He had just gotten finished offending the Pharisees ...
After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from
Jerusalem, criticizing, "Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the
But Jesus put it right back on them.
"Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God's commands?
You cancel God's command by your rules.
Frauds! Isaiah's prophecy of you hit the bull's-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn't in it.
They act like they're worshiping me,
but they don't mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy."
I think God always honors honesty. I think He prefers it to piety. And I think He just loves to use the most unexpected people to teach us about Himself. That does fit with His character.
What do you think?