Crumbs for the dogs - 25 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. ‘First let the children eat all they want,’ he told her, ‘for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ ‘Lord,’ she replied, ‘even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he told her, ‘For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.’ Mark 7:24-29

The city of Tyre was, in Jesus’ day, an impressive place. It was a prosperous port town, a centre of culture and technology, famous for its valuable purple dye. It was also a pagan city, and a place good Jews tended to avoid.

In a curious conversation, Jesus suggests that he has come to serve his own people first, not hers. It was common for Jews to refer to Gentiles as "dogs". Jesus wasn’t recognizing this description as accurate; rather, he wanted to see whether the woman was ready to take such a lowly position to receive healing.

This Gentile woman refused to take no for an answer, even though she knew she wasn’t Jewish. She was willing to accept whatever "crumbs" he would offer – that is, whatever attention Jesus was willing to give her and her daughter.

If Jesus had simply healed her daughter, she would have experienced him as just another miracle worker. But, through this encounter, she experienced Jesus as the Messiah of the God of Israel.

We can learn a lot from this Gentile woman. She was humble, she was persistent in bringing her needs to Jesus, and she had faith that Jesus had ample power and good will to meet her needs.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you see me as I am and receive me as I am. Please enable me to come to you with humble faith to receive your mercy. Amen.

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