Matthew 15:21 - 28
ESV - 21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.
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Jesus wanted to execute everything as per the plan from the Father. He was at a mission to reach the Jews within His short span in this world. So, when the Phoenician woman pleaded Him to heal her daughter He said this verse to her. Please note there is no racial separation here. The word 'dogs' might sound harsh, But actually it was not. It was a tradition that Jewish leaders consider themselves as the children (human being) of God and others as dogs which requires human support to live. Jesus used this word to NOT to discriminate her, But to test her faith and the woman's reply pleased our Lord so He healed her daughter immediately. When we read this verse we require to study the circumstances carefully and the time period of this event too.
A Phoenician woman earnestly pleaded for Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus replied that it was inappropriate to give the children’s food to little dogs. He meant that he could not care for non-Israelites at the expense of deserving Jews. Discerning the point of his illustration, the woman nevertheless begged: “Yes, Lord; but really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters.” Her strong faith and sincerity moved Jesus to say: “O woman, great is your faith; let it happen to you as you wish.”—Matthew 15:22-28.
Lord uses the customary language of the Jews, since the Jews regarded the Gentiles as dogs. He used this language to test her faith. Jesus used this customary language in other areas too. Because He was sent to the Jews first.
In Matthew 10:1-4 we have the account of The Lord choosing and empowering his disciples. In verses 5-6 "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." As previously stated, Christ's earthly ministry was primarily to the Jew, his chosen people. Christ is declared in scripture as "the son of David" i.e. descendent of David. Understanding the covenant relationship of God with Israel which began at the calling of Abraham in Genesis 12, the Gentiles had no claim on Messiah as "Son of David". However, when the Greek woman came and worshiped him then correctly addressed him as Lord saying: "Lord, help me", He responded. She then acknowledged she had no claim: "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." ".....O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Ephesians 2:11-13 "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ".
Your Question: "Why does Jesus seem so mean to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:22-28? She needed his help and he referred to her as a dog." Matthew 10 gives the account of Christ commissioning his disciples giving them explicit instruction. " These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (v's 5-6). John 4:34 records: "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. In v. 24 of the chapter/passage in question Christ responded: "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." I believe it is clear from scripture that Christ was doing what the determinate counsel had foreordained. His ministry and mission was to his chosen people, Israel, the Jews. There's nothing metaphorical or allegorical about it. Aside from the words of the Lord the apostle Paul also states: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16). Many seem to have a problem with the sequence but Paul further states that only until AFTER the shedding of Christ's blood was salvation available "CORPORATELY" to the nations (Gentiles, dogs, heathen). "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:11-13). With the understanding that Christ was a Jewish Messiah (as he told the Greek lady in Matthew 15:24) he as the son of David was not the object of her worship because "son of David" is a Jewish title. Being a Gentile (alien from the commonwealth of Israel) she had no claim on him as such. However when she called him "Lord", he responded. Why? I believe John 6:37 tells us. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Yes, our gracious Lord saved a few Gentiles along the way but the flood gate of salvation was not opened to the nations until after his death, burial and resurrection. "We who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ". Thank you Lord Jesus!
Jesus departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus was approached by the woman of Canaan. This woman was a Gentile and descended from the Canaanites who inhabited Syria and Palestine before the conquest of the latter by Joshua. Verse 26-28. By children the Lord means Jews, and by dogs, Gentiles. Jesus attitude was intended to test the woman's faith, which was rewarded by a miraculous healing. The term used for dogs (Gr. kuhariois) means little dogs (pets) not wild scavenging canines. Verse 27 She replied that such dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. The Gentile woman of Canaan knew what could be hers, even if she was not a Jew, and thus this illustration was of her faith in Jesus. This clearly reveals that millions plus more Gentiles who would later be blessed by Israel's Messiah. "GREAT IS THY FAITH": Jesus again commends GENTILE's belief. (cf. Matthew 8:10)
Personally, when i read this story, it spoke more to the value of faith than Jesus calling her a dog. I believe because she was a Caananite, and not of the house of Israel, Jesus' mandate was to shepherd (heal, restore) the lost children of Israel, even though He preached everywhere. I think this story is a prime example of His assertion that He came for ALL who would listen with open hearts, ears and eyes to see the truth, this woman the prime example. The lesson being that faith in Jesus transcends all barriers. I'm no scholar, but this is what i read from this story. Blessings!
In this passage of Matthew 15: 21-28, it is clear that the woman who was not a Jewish woman knows well who Jesus is (verse 22) and was believing and having faith in Him. As a believer and follower of Jesus, the woman had had a right to become a child of God (John 1: 12-13); besides, Jesus did not call the Canaanite woman a dog, but He just wanted to clarify whether her request was worthy or unworthy to be granted. A dog is God's creation, a helper to man (Genesis 2: 18-20) and Jesus did not come just for humanity, but to all creation as well (Mark 16:15).
In the same story in Mathew 15:28, I see how the woman knew exactly what Jesus was doing with the refusal and the statements he responded with, and she understood, being a gentile, why he said the things He said. I do not believe he intended to compare her (or ALL of us non-Jews) with a dog; in fact I don't believe he was necessarily referring to 'her' personally at all! I believe his comparisons relay to the supreme importance of His MISSION! The dog represented becoming sidetracked, losing his focus. NOT that the woman was somehow a second class human person. He knew ALL will be blessed once he completed His goal of salvation. Plus, the disciples with him (who were Jews under the law) were watching, and absorbing His every move, word and action. The "Bread" here was LIFE and RECONCILIATION with God), and it needed to be handled preciously (decently and in order) as only He could. However, the woman's faith obtained after all what ALL faith in the Master obtains; it was the same thing the Samaritan woman and the Centurion and his dying servant (non-Jews) obtained from Him...Jesus couldn't help Himself! Glory be to God. Amen!
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