Leftovers are a blessing


                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 worshipped 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 Jewish culture, dogs were considered dirty animals; they scavenged through garbage heaps; feeding off of the scraps that human’s refused to eat.  The Jews commonly referred to non-Jews (gentiles) as dogs.  Jesus identified the begging woman as a dog in order to gauge her reaction.  How did she react?  She didn’t become angry; she didn’t hurl insults at him.  Discarding her pride, she embraced his assessment in pursuit of her miracle.  Because she exhibited true humility, Jesus granted her request and praised her for her faith. [Note:  In another verse, Jesus literally referred to himself as the “bread from heaven;” God provided his Son as a heavenly meal for His people.  However, many refused to accept God’s invitation.  In turn, God chose to offer the same gift to the gentiles (non-Jews.)  The scraps from God’s table have become available to all those who hunger for salvation.]

                When I was a child, we often ate meals around the dining room table.  Our dog, Brutis, was an overeager collie that ‘waited in the wings’ for my mother to leave the room.  Of course my mother expected us to eat everything on our plates (even the things we didn’t enjoy.)  When mother Laura exited the room, my siblings and I gently lowered our plates beneath the table and Brutis would lick them clean.  When my mother returned she was pleased to see empty dishes.  Our dog wasn’t prideful; he never complained about the taste of the food; nor did he consider leftovers undignified.  Instead, he joyfully devoured what we had rejected.

                The Jewish people were God’s priority in the first century (and they are His priority today.)  Jesus was Jewish; as were John, Peter, Paul, and the other 10 disciples (In fact, only one of the books of the Bible was possibly written by a non-Jewish author; the Gospel of Luke.)  Whenever Paul entered a new city, he walked straight in to the local synagogue and proclaimed the gospel to his Jewish brothers.  Only after they had rejected the message did he reach out to the gentiles.  God promised to redeem the Jewish people; Jesus is that redemption.  It is only by God’s grace and mercy that 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 a 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.  If you discard your pride and embrace His mercy, then you will take hold of 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 have divided his followers for centuries.  Gentiles and Jews are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for the Jewish people, and for Your plan in saving many of them through Your Son.  We love them, because we love You.  We desire that we might all, Jew and Gentile alike, accept Your message in humility, knowing that we deserve none of Your grace; we are but lowly dogs who desperately desire Your salvation; grant us now the miracle of reconciliation.  Do not deny us Father; may we experience Your great mercy today.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You; and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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