#DailyDevotion Not Your 21st Century Jesus
Matt. 1521Leaving that place, Jesus went away to the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. 22There was a Canaanite woman of that territory who came out and shouted, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! A demon is severely tormenting my daughter.” 23But He didn’t answer her a word. Then His disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away. She’s yelling after us.” 24“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” He answered. 25She came and bowed down before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26“It isn’t good,” He answered, “to take the children’s bread and throw it to the puppies.” 27“You’re right, Lord,” she said, “but even the puppies eat some of the crumbs that drop from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, you have a strong faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” At that moment her daughter was made well.
Matthew introduces the woman in this account as a Canaanite woman. Mark is a little kinder and says Syrophoenician. He is possibly painting her in the worse possible light to his Jewish readers to make his contrast between her faith in Jesus and their lack of faith in Jesus, in whom they should have faith. You might remember the LORD in the Old Testament commanded the Israelites to wipe these people out because their idolatry would lead them astray (which it did). They never completed this work. Another interesting contrast between Mark and Matthew is how the woman addresses Jesus. In Matthew the woman addresses Jesus with Messianic titles, “Lord, Son of David.” Now it appears to me she is trying to pull a fast one on Jesus. She is appealing to him as an Israelite, a Jew. She is hoping to get what she wants through deceit. Jesus realizes this and ignores the woman. Not a very 21st century Jesus thing to do (but Jesus isn’t the 21st century Jesus, he is Jesus). Apparently she is making quite of fuss and the disciples ask Jesus just to give her what she wants which he counters with “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Well that’s strike two compared to the 21st century Jesus). Jesus recognizes her for who she is and she is not getting anything from him based on deceit.
Finally Jesus responds to her pleas with it is isn’t right to give the children’s bread to puppies. Now grant it, dogs is in the diminutive (perhaps it is because Jesus is referring to her daughter) but Jesus is still insulting her calling her a dog. (That’s strike three from the 21st century Jesus) It is no doubt a reference to her being a Canaanite. Seriously, how could Jesus be so insensitive? The woman finally gets honest with Jesus and humbles herself before him and confesses who she really is. She’s also pretty sharp in accepting that title and makes the extension of the metaphor, that even puppies get scraps. With the faith and humility she now has she catches Jesus in his own words. Jesus honors her faith and gives her what she wants, her daughter healed.
So what about you? In your prayers do you come to Jesus as something you are not? Do you try to put yourself as a great Christian who deserves to be heard by Jesus or a poor miserable sinner? Do you humble yourself before Jesus, hear is rebuke and confess your sins? Do you come to Jesus in prayer with his own words, his commands and promises or do you have your own agenda? She had great faith because she trusted Jesus, who he was, what he commanded and what he promised despite who she was. We are called to do the same.
Heavenly Father, by your command we pray. We confess we are not worthy to be heard but by your command we make our request. Hear us when we pray with faith in Jesus Christ your Son and answer our prayers according to your good and gracious will. Give us faith like this woman. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.