MUSINGS – March 20, 2019
Jesus left that place and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that territory came to him and began to shout, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. Then his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away. She keeps shouting behind us.” Jesus responded, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.” She came to him, bowed down, and said, “Lord, help me!” Jesus replied, “It’s not right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “You’re right, Lord. But even the dogs eat scraps that fall from their masters’ tables.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, you have strong faith! What you wanted will be done for you.” At that moment her daughter was cured.
What a remarkable story we have here. Jesus, who always sought out those in need and meet that need, seemingly rejects this Canaanite woman.Notice that she doesn’t come near to him but shouts from afar. And what she yells out to him has two important ingredients. The first thing is a cry for mercy. She doesn’t come for a lesson nor a judgment. She comes for mercy. Also note that she calls him Lord. This it’s not an uncommon way of addressing anyone of a higher station than themselves. However, she clarifies why she calls him Lord when she adds, “Son of David!” By addressing him in this manner, she is recognising him as the rightful king of Israel, which is more than most of his countrymen have done. She comes not for her own need, but for a daughter tormented by a demon.
Yet here is the oddity in this encounter, he acts as if he didn’t hear her and doesn’t respond. Indeed it isn’t until his disciples said, “Send her away. She keeps shouting behind us.”
Jesus, ever the teacher, took the same dismissive tone as his disciples and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.” Those are his words to her but recall that he healed the servant of a Roman officer, and a foreign man beset by demons, and let’s not forget that his first recorded miracle was at a wedding … where … in Canaan. He is now ready to teach his disciples a lesson about acceptance and persistence. She didn’t give up but persisted. And it was rewarded. “Woman, you have strong faith! What you wanted will be done for you.”
If this whole thing seems familiar, hear this from Luke 18:1-8 Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up. He said, “In a city there was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice.’ “For a while the judge refused to do anything. But then he thought, ‘This widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people, I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.'” The Lord added, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge thought. Won’t God give his chosen people justice when they cry out to him for help day and night? Is he slow to help them? I can guarantee that he will give them justice quickly. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Have you ever felt that your prayers haven’t been answered? Jesus said, “Won’t God give his chosen people justice when they cry out to him for help day and night? Is he slow to help them? I can guarantee that he will give them justice quickly.”
Be persistent! Be persistent!Be persistent!
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