We join Jesus in the region of Tyre and Sidon today. He is trying to go unnoticed but that didn’t happen. Jesus goes into a house to fly below the radar.
Jesus is so famous that even in this region He is known. He hasn’t come here before, but people from other regions have brought news of Him and His activities here. I’m assuming that someone recognized Him as He came into town. Because there isn’t a large crowd gathered at the time of our story, His fame wasn’t on the level here with what it was in Galilee. Our one mother though can’t wait to see Him.
I want to know how she gets into the house where He is. Did she beg the person in charge of the door? Did she brazenly walk in? Did she catch Jesus just as He came out of the house? How did she get to Jesus’ feet?
While reading this story I was very interested in the word “dog” that Jesus used when referring to the woman. I wondered if Jesus was calling her a wild dog, a working dog, or a household pet. To me that made a difference.
If Jesus was calling her a wild dog, that would have meant He was equating her with something that ran in packs, killed whatever it could for survival, and was generally a nuisance. These kinds of dogs were sometimes hunted and killed.
If Jesus was referring to her as a working dog, that would put her in the place of a servant to the shepherd. This isn’t a terrible place to be, because at least this dog is valued and cared for. But it is only valued for what it has to offer, not for itself.
If Jesus was referring to her as a household pet, that would be best. This kind of dog is valued for its companionship. It is treated like a member of the family. It lives with the family in the home. It is cared for regardless of its ability. Often these dogs serve as watch dogs for the family too.
The dog Jesus referenced in His interaction with the woman was a puppy. Blue Letter Bible.org provided me with a link to Strong’s Concordance where I was finally able to answer this question. I am very grateful to see that both Jesus and the woman used this form of the word. Why? Because it shows Jesus’ love for the woman within His testing of her faith.
This woman would have heard in the stories about Jesus that He was ministering to the Jews and that He himself was Jewish. Jews and Gentiles didn’t associate with or help one another. Jesus could have flatly refused to even talk to her. But He didn’t. Instead He challenged her to press in for her answer.
Jesus, as God, knew the woman’s heart and was fully aware of her situation. He also had the ability to know the outcome of His “gauntlet” laying. So He knew how hard of a hurdle to put in front of her.
I wonder if we today ascribe more insult in Jesus’ interaction than He meant. I want to look at what He said to her. Jesus told her that it is not right to take the food from the children and feed it to the dogs. He was saying it was not right to feed the dogs first and leave the children hungru. In response she said she wasn’t asking to be first but that she was willing to take whatever was left over. I don’t know of any house that has children and dogs that the dogs don’t get something from them, especially a puppy. This is what she was counting on.
Jesus saw her tenacity and willingness to humble herself on account of her daughter. He rewarded her immediately for her faith. He healed her daughter immediately. He didn’t tell her to go get her daughter or even go to her home to touch her daughter personally. He spoke the word, from where He was and the demon had to flee!
Something that impresses me too is her acceptance of Jesus’ pronouncement of her daughter’s deliverance. She didn’t argue when He told her that her daughter was healed. She didn’t ask someone to go check for her while she stayed with Jesus, just in case she needed Him to pray again. She simply took Him at His word and went home. When she got home she found her daughter whole and free. That too took faith!
Jesus, thank You for caring for this woman and her daughter. I truly believe that if she didn’t have the faith and tenacity needed to meet the gauntlet You laid down, You would have still met her need. You meet each of us at the point of our need and faith. You also challenge us to grow in that faith. Thank You for her growth opportunity.
I am also very glad that Your power knows no bounds. The demon was subject to You no matter how far away it was. They are still subject to You today. Thank You for giving us this authority too. Thank You for being with me when I’ve encountered demons before. I never want to go through that kind of experience again, but if I did, I KNOW You would walk through it with me again. I pray I will trust You as much as the mother did.