All year I have been working my way through 2 Peter (by “accident”), but this morning I detour with Jesus to the region of Tyre and Sidon. I read the heart-stirring incident of magnificent faith and wonder about my own faith…and about Jesus’ generosity toward me.
Here. You read it. The telling of a great faith that moved…a Phoenician woman:
- Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
- And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
- But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
- But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
- Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
- But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
- And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
- Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
- And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
- And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
- Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
I know the record here hits a high point, skipping over many details. But I’m blessed that “Jesus went thence” (21), made a Canaanite woman’s daughter whole, and “departed from thence” (31). Browsing backward through Matthew to find His last stated geographic location, I find “the land of Gennesaret” (Matthew 14:34). That’s on the east side of the Jordan River. It looks to me like Jesus skipped a direct route to the Sea of Galilee and made a big, long loop out close to the Mediterranean Sea in order to give a crumb to a dog, as it were. Wow!
My heart sings at the woman’s faith and tenacity. She didn’t turn away from Jesus’ “insensitive, rude, racist rejections” — nope, none of that quitting stuff for her. Listen…
She keeps asking for help, driving the disciples to distraction.
Jesus finally speaks to her: “I was sent to help Israelites, not Cannanites.”
“Lord, I worship You. Please, help me too!”
“It wouldn’t be right for Me to give to you (of all people) that which is meant for God’s own chosen people.”
“You are right, Lord. But may I have some of the few little pieces of leftovers that God’s children will sweep away anyway? Just a crumb, Lord? Please, that’s all I need.”
“You have such great faith! I grant you what you wish.”
And those few little crumbs sufficed to drive away a demon! I believe that mother “glorified the God of Israel” every bit as much as the Israelites did.
Suppose Jesus gave me only the scattered crumbs left over from someone else’s meal. Would that unmerited generosity be sufficient to my need? Yes! But…I pause at the all-too-familiar snag. You know the one, I’m sure: I know He can, but I don’t know if He will.
I have huge needs. I look at them and stagger. So I look away and move along, doing the best I can to be faithful under their weight. I believe Jesus will help me, but I don’t know what form that help will take. So far, it has not taken the form I think I need for my need. (Yes, I sigh sometimes.)
This Canaanite mother believed in Jesus’ power. She also trusted His heart. So did many of the multitude at the end of this account.
I do too. I believe even stray pieces of His power to be more than enough. I believe even crunched crumbs of His grace suffice.
Do I have faith that moves…me?
Eight years ago yesterday I blogged briefly about this same passage in Faith That Moves God! CLP must be recycling their Sunday School lessons for their youth/adult quarterlies.