Before you read this post… I am quite proud of THIS POST at my other blog. Feel free to visit it.
So this week in the church lectionary there was a rather intriguing and difficult passage to look at:
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
My minister Andrew preached a good explanation of this passage here: HMC website
(Look midway through the blog to hear the audio of his sermon)
Now, for my three cents:
Jesus’ actions are confusing. But as I sat with this passage. I began to observe another view that one could look at this passage.
Perhaps, in a way, the whole scene was “staged.” Because, for anything is possible with God, right?
(Please don’t shoot me down here.)
These are my own thoughts and ideas. I promise I’m not starting a religion here. Just sharing a thought. Take it or leave it.
I believe Jesus has a godly (clearly) ability to look into each person and situation and discern it and bring out something from it. A lesson or encouragement or a challenge.
So when this lady approached Jesus (God on earth); He saw into her soul.
And He assessed it like this:
This is a strong woman. She will “work with me” here. She won’t back down from my silence or use of a cultural idiom. (Did Jesus already know how she was going to answer? Maybe He did.)
The audience of a life lesson that day, was not her, but in fact his disciples.
Jesus wanted them to learn these things:
i) This is not a male dominated world. Yes, I can took to ladies too.
ii) I am not bound my culture. And they shouldn’t be either. The grace of God is not just for the Jews.
iii) How determined is your faith? When the going gets tough will you stick at it or simply back off?
So he first responds in silence.
The strong lady does not back down.
He says I’ve come for the lost sheep of Israel. (Now this is what the disciples had also believed up to this point.)
But they were wrong. They had been following him with a wrong notion. Jesus came for more than the “lost sheep of Israel”
She calls on Him again. Jesus hears.
And then uses a cultural idiom of that time.
Yes, if you hear (read) it; it sounds very insulting. But this woman didn’t see it as an insult. She was part of this “greater scene” being played out with Jesus; for the disciples to learn.
Because maybe the disciples themselves were incorrectly thinking: “Yuck, a Canaanite woman, one of society’s dogs.”
And she answers with a brilliant line, the pinnacle of the drama “being displayed before them.” Turning the idiom on its head:
“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”
Curtains closed. Potent line dropped.
You see, dear disciples of back then and now in 2014; the grace of God is not only for the “Jewish men” or for an “elite few”
(Christians tend to do that often: “us and them” mentality.)
Lesson taught. Is it learnt?
God’s love crosses gender and cultural borders.