We read about the mother in Matthew 15:
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.”
This woman was of Canaanite, not Jewish, descent. Even though she was from outside the family of Abraham, God drew her to worship the promised Savior, Jesus. She identifies him as “Son of David”—a title reserved for the Messiah. This mother believed, and she became an unlikely recipient of God’s mercy.
You may know, though, that her story is more complex than that. It can be a difficult story for modern hearers to understand. In fact, this is probably one of the more challenging accounts in all the Gospels. So, let’s start from the top. Jesus has journeyed to the region of Tyre and Sidon—a non-Jewish region. Enter this Canaanite woman. The Canaanites were known for their worship of idol-gods. In recent years, archeologists have verified much of what the Bible tells us about their violent worship and its horrors.
Still, this woman comes to Jesus. She begs him for help. The disciples try to intervene. They tell Jesus, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” Jesus seems to pile on, saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:23-24).
It’s as though the Lord was saying, “I am not some wandering miracle worker, some itinerant healer to the nations. I was sent to be Israel’s Messiah, to heal the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Even then, the woman does not go away. Instead, she comes back, begging, “Lord, help me” (v. 25). But Jesus rebuffs her yet again: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26).
Her response is nothing short of astonishing. It is hard to amaze Jesus, but this woman does it! She sets herself unconditionally under Christ’s lordship, at the feet of God’s mercy, saying, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27).
Note: She asks for just a crumb of mercy. She knows who Jesus is: Lord and Son of David. She knows the purpose for which God sent Jesus: to save the lost sheep of Israel. And still she worships Jesus, asking for a crumb of mercy, knowing it will be more than enough for her. The Lord has drawn from her a firm declaration of faith. A Canaanite by birth, she is now—by rebirth—a member of the family of faith. The Holy Spirit has given her new life, eternal life!
Now let me ask you some serious questions:
- How about you? Have you unconditionally placed yourself under the lordship of Jesus Christ? Or do you try to set limits on what Jesus can and cannot do in your life?
- Do you unconditionally worship Jesus on his terms, not your own?
- Do you unconditionally surrender your calendar, your relationships, your bank accounts—your life—to Jesus? No strings attached? No stipulations as to what is in bounds and what is out of bounds?