I. The Broken-Hearted Mother
– The Place
Jesus was met by a woman from the Syro-Phoenician region of Canaan (along the coast, between Tyre & Sidon).
– The Plea
She came to Jesus because she had a demon-possessed daughter… and she knew Jesus was her best hope. But, what followed was an awkward discussion between Jesus and the woman.
The encounter between this woman and Jesus raises lots of questions: Why does Jesus seem eager to brush her off at first? Why does it appear Jesus implies her ethnicity was a valid reason to refuse her request? Why does it appear Jesus is more focused on side-issues than He is the little girl? And, if all of the previous is true, why did Jesus change His mind? Did He realize He had made a mistake and, to correct His thinking, He decided to rant the mother’s request after all?
Or, was all of this designed to test this mother’s persistence?
Of course, Jesus did NOT look down on this woman because of her ethnicity. Jesus came to seek and save ALL lost people, regardless of race, color, or creed. Of course, Jesus was NOT ignoring her request or brushing her off; neither had He forgotten there was a suffering girl at hand. And, of course, Jesus NEVER made a mistake!
This mother was desperate. And her desperation wiped away any pride she might have felt. She needed help… BIG help… for her demon-possessed daughter. And she was willing to climb over any cultural barriers to get to Jesus.
This woman’s response to Jesus’ initial “brush-off” showed her persistence, but also her quick-thinking. In today’s talk, Jesus might have looked at her and said, “Well played, young lady.” Playing off Jesus’ metaphor of children and their dogs, this mother responded that she would accept whatever Jesus had to offer. Such unconditional acceptance was what won Jesus’ admiration and respect.
But, Jesus did want to make clear what His ministry was; He had been sent to His fellow Jews first… and to the Gentiles by extension.
This encounter with this woman served as a teachable moment for this mother… but also for Jesus’ disciples. In fact, Matthew’s Gospel points out it was the apostles who encouraged Jesus to send this woman away. They needed to see that people matter… ALL people!
II. The Kind-Hearted Savior
In the end, the woman received what she had asked for – her faith and persistence mattered more than anything else. And, impressed by her tenacity, Jesus healed the woman’s demon-possessed daughter.
The first step toward healing… whether physical, emotional, or spiritual… is realizing we need outside help. And the best outside help is ALWAYS God.
Is there anything keeping you from bringing your life and your problems to Jesus?
* The biggest obstacle to getting God’s help is our own stubborn pride.
You can read the story of the Syrophoenician Woman in Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30.