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When Jesus Gives People a Reason to Leave

No matter when you were born, there will always be a culture, group or segment of society that is not welcome.  This perception begins through stereotypes, prejudging an entire race or nation based upon previous actions, beliefs and practices.  Such is the case of Canaan and Israel.  While Noah’s grandson gave birth to descendants who embraced evil, idolatry and wicked ways, God called Israel to be set apart from the rest of the world.  This tension continued during the first century when a needy woman approaches Jesus.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Matthew 15:23-24.

Based upon the passage above, a Canaanite woman appeared to have heard about Jesus’ healing powers.  Desperate to find help for her demon possessed daughter, this woman makes a scene in public, hoping to get Jesus’ attention.  Approaching on her knees, Jesus offers two interesting responses to this Canaanite woman’s request.  If you just read Jesus’ reply, he is blunt, initially disregarding her plea.  If you read between the lines, Jesus is giving her a reason to leave, to walk away without receiving an answer to her prayer.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table,” Matthew 15:26-27.

The underlining theme of this passage is perseverance.  This woman refused to take no for an answer, doing everything in her power to convince Jesus to extend his power beyond the Jews.  She could have walked away disappointed upon hearing that Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel.  Hanging on despite the initial response, Jesus’ second comment in the passage above would have sent most people away in tears.  Nonetheless, this woman showed resolve, coming back with a witty response to win Jesus over.  In the end, you have two choices in life: accept reality by walking away disappointed or persist until God answers your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

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