Then Jesus went from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Caanan came from that region and cried out to him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed.” But he said to her not a word. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” But he answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But he answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire!” And her daughter was healed from that very hour (Mathew 15: 21-28.)
In first century Jewish culture, dogs were considered dirty animals; they scavenged through garbage heaps; feeding on the scraps that human’s refused to eat. The Hebrew people commonly referred to non-Jews (gentiles) as dogs. Jesus called the begging woman a dog; an insult designed to test her heart. She didn’t react in anger; she didn’t hurl insults at him. Instead, she laid down her pride, embraced his assessment, and continued chasing her miracle. Because she exhibited true humility, Jesus granted her request and praised her for her faith.
When I was a small child, my family usually ate meals around a dining room table. Of course we were expected to devour everything on our plates; even the things we didn’t enjoy. Brutis, our overeager collie, always sat patiently beside the table. When my mother exited the room, my siblings and I would gently lower our dishes and Brutis would lick them clean. When she returned, she was pleased to see our empty plates. Our dog wasn’t prideful; he never complained about the taste of the food; nor did he consider leftovers and scraps undignified. Instead, he joyfully consumed whatever we rejected.
The Jewish people were God’s priority in the first century, and they hold a preferred place even today. Jesus was Jewish; as were John, Peter, Paul, and the other 10 disciples. In fact, only one of the books in the New Testament was written by a non-Jewish author. Whenever Paul entered a new city, he would walk straight in to the synagogue and proclaim the gospel. Only after they had rejected the message, did he preach to the gentiles. By the grace and mercy of God, we as non-Jews have come to inherit eternal life. If you are Jewish and you have faith in God’s son, you are blessed. If you are gentile, you can humbly and joyfully devour the divine leftovers (they are just as wonderful as the main course.) Know your place and God will honor you. By discarding pride and embracing His mercy, you will experience the desires of your heart, and you will “dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.” [Note: Despite God’s love for the Jewish people, Jesus Christ has broken down the barriers of inequality that divide Jews and gentiles. ‘We are all one in Christ Jesus.’]
“Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for the Jewish people, and for the salvation You have offered them through Your Son. We love them because You love them. May we all, Jew and gentile alike, humbly accept Your message; knowing that we are undeserving of Your grace. Grant us the miracle of reconciliation, that we might experience Your wonderful mercy. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these thing, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you.