Leaving that place , Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession". 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". He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel". The woman came and knelt before him, "Lord help me!" she said. He replied, It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs". "Yes, Lord," She said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table". then Jesus answered, "woman you have great faith! Your request is granted". And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matthew 15:21-28
I confess I never understood this portion of scripture. I wondered why Jesus would call this woman a dog. Didn't Jesus love everyone and want to help them? Yet it seems as if he is turning her away. Today however I received a new perspective on this scripture and the attitude with which we are to approach Jesus in prayer.
I believe that when we come to the Lord he is willing to grant whatever we ask when we have faith and believe we will receive it. What is often missing however is humility. This woman was a Canaanite, not a Jew. The Canaanites were enemies of Israel. The term dog was often used when referring to gentiles because it was believed that they were no more likely than dogs to receive God's blessing. Jesus knew their hypocrisy. When he uses the term dog it is to show the contrast between their attitude and his. The Lord is moved by a broken and contrite heart. This woman is not deterred. She falls on her knees before him. She says, that's okay I know who I am in comparison to who you are and I don't expect to receive the same as your chosen people. If you would just toss a crumb my way, I know that it will be enough. You see she got it. She knew that even crumbs from the Master's Table are far better than anything the world has to offer.
I am humbled and ashamed when I compare my attitude to hers. Often I don't know my place. I don't come to God with a true reverence for who he is in comparison with who I am. I am a gentile, not even one of God's chosen people, and yet he died for me. I expect that I should receive more than I deserve instead of realizing he doesn't have to give me anything. I am not thankful that even though I am a lowly sinner that he went to the cross and took my punishment so that instead of crumbs the door was open for me to enter the banquet hall and receive the fullness of God's blessings.
At our prayer gathering Sunday night it was made clear to us the attitude we are to have if we want to enter into the Presence of the Almighty God. That we are to know that we are nothing without him. The Canaanite woman just knew that she was desperate and that without Jesus there was no hope for her daughter. She knew her need and humbled herself before him. By contrast many of the Jews, God's chosen people would reject him because of their pride. A prideful heart cannot draw near to God. It cannot appreciate his majesty and glory or appreciate what God does. Let us look at this portion of scripture today with new eyes and just bask in the knowledge of who Jesus is and what he did for us. Let's give him the glory and honor he deserves and desire to draw close to him.