Thursday, November 4, 2021

My Story Matters: The Canaanite Woman

Several months ago I wrote a blog: "59+ Seconds That I Can Never Retrieve..."  

It centered on a Tik Tok video presented by a progressive pastor who walked listeners through the story of Jesus' interaction with the Canaanite Woman. 

He had several points, but the main one he hoped to get across to his listeners centered on the fact that Jesus' response to her sprang from a racist heart needing confrontation.

When exposed, Jesus repented and made a course correction that lovingly embraced this woman and responded to her heart's desire for her daughter's healing. 

I briefly mentioned it, because my intent that Thursday argued for the importance of strategic "Lego-building" anytime we break apart and build on God's Truth from His Word. 

Over the next couple of months, as I dive into the lives of women in Scripture whose stories matter, I recognize that now is the time to unpack the story of the Canaanite woman.

What first drew me is the statement made by Jesus to her: 

"O, woman! Great is your faith!"

I'd like to borrow that line from her story to put in mine.

So, what made her faith so worth quantifying?

Her story: Matthew 15:21-28 (NIV). 

While↑ records the faith of this gal, and her daughter's ultimate healing; I rather get the idea that there might be actual teaching taking place for Jesus' students.

I see Him testing them (albeit not at her expense)...and, if I were Matthew, I'd be embarrassed to have this recorded in the book to which I attached my name. 

First, we must look at what has already transpired in Jesus' ministry:

When the disciples were quite willing to settle down in Capernaum after Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, and just let ministry take place straight out of her home, Jesus explained to them, "No, I must go to other towns and preach there, also. This is why I have come, to seek and save all who are lost." 

Jesus has been to Samaria (!!!), and brought salvation to a despised, and SIN-FILLED, SPIRITUALLY DRY Samaritan (!!!) woman...

He has touched untouchable lepers and made them clean again...

He's included traitorous, hated tax-collectors and, formerly, demon-possessed women in His traveling entourage...

Indeed, Jesus has reached out to the despised, the hated, the betrayed, the sick, the demon possessed, the untouchable and the unlovable throughout His brief ministry... 

Yes, He was sent to help the lost sheep of Israel, but He has already set the tone for extending salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike. 

The disciples have seen this to be true!

Secondly, it's important to recognize the history of Canaanites. 

This woman was considered a "daughter of Jezebel." Her family worshipped at the altar of Baal. Who knows, maybe one of her great-great-great grandfathers was one of the priests who'd danced around the altar, calling out for their god to consume the sacrifice, cutting themselves, while calling fire down from heaven (and, Elijah sat by making bathroom jokes)? 

Because of her religious background, the disciples consider her lowlife. 

Actually........lower than low. 

On the ladder of importance, dogs were the bottom rung, because they were unholy and unclean in Jewish eyes. 

So, Jesus stoops pretty far down when he calls her a "dog." 

Jesus responded, “I was sent only to help the lost sheep of Israel. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs (vs. 26).”

He looked at her as He spoke; but, definitely loud enough His disciples heard. 

I am shocked (!) and feel awkward by Jesus' response...weren't they? 

No; their annoyance level ranked high - and, so, they asked Jesus to send her away (do you hear the whine in their voices?):

“Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging (vs 23b, NLT).”

Jesus had to be disappointed. His students receive an "F" when it comes to following their instructor's lessons on "loving their neighbor".

They should know better....

...BUT, they don't; and yet, the woman does...

Somehow (maybe it's the stories SHE HAS HEARD), her faith is great and her response to Jesus is quick (also, right on the money!!!):  

Instead of being greatly offended, she humbles herself. 

She kneels before Jesus (ESV), and:

...she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me! ...even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table (vs 25, 27).”

That's when Jesus lifts her to her feet, and informs us, His followers, about her great faith, and gives immediate healing to her demon-possessed daughter. 

Here's the bottom line of this woman's story: 

She: "Jesus! You're right. I'm just a dog in the sight of the King of Kings. 

I'm entitled to nothing. 

I am a sinful woman, from the wrong side of the tracks, having worshipped the wrong god, and been blind to the ways of the Almighty.

But, my eyes are opening to Your majesty...and I know, You can if You wanted, for You have done so for others. 

Even I can benefit from Your leftovers. 

Even the crumbs from Your hand are powerful enough to deal with cruel demons."

The humility of this woman should amaze us all. 

The One True God shouldn't give me the time of day. 

Am I willing to bow the knee and take my chances in His presence...for there is no one like the God of Jehovah?

Based on her story, her humility seems to kick in Jesus' sweet compassion...and, immediately He rides on a cloud to rescue (lesson to disciples forgotten at the moment)! 

There's a one line take-away from the story of the Canaanite Woman. 

It is not that Jesus was racist.

It is not that He repented of His sin when confronted with authority.

Here is the lesson the disciples needed to learn and myself, as well:


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