Jesus can be really offensive sometimes. He acknowledges and even calls out sins in others, He seems to go out of His way to lambaste the Pharisees, and even His own family isn’t free of His insulting illustrations. “Who are my mother and brothers? Those who do the will of my Father.” Ouch.
Here again, Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman seems pretty insensitive. She comes asking for help for her little girl and Jesus simply ignores her. When asked by the disciples about it, He says that He’s here for the Jews, not the Gentiles. After studying Paul for so long with his constant insistence that there isn’t a difference between Jew and Gentile, it seems odd for Jesus to seemingly dismiss the Gentile community out of hand. After all, didn’t He do exactly this kind of healing for a Roman centurion just a few chapters ago?
It gets worse as she approaches Jesus herself. She rightfully assumes a position of pleading, kneeling before Him, yet still Jesus refuses. The metaphor of the children’s bread going to the dogs seals His statement made to the disciples that He is here for the Jews alone. Yet the woman persists. “Not so, Lord. The dogs do get the children’s crumbs.”
Rather than looking at Jesus for our example, let’s look more closely at this woman. Though a Gentile, she comes to this Jewish Rabbi for help. It’s amazing what our desperation will lead us to do. She then proceeds to pester Him until He will listen, even after He ignores her and His followers attempt to shoo her away. Then, when rebuffed, she doesn’t get offended, or call Him out for His rude comment, but keeps pressing. This is the parable of the persistent widow played out in real life.
And in the end, Jesus sees her trust in Him and rewards her for it. “Your request is granted,” He says and her daughter is healed immediately.
As we pray, let us learn from his woman and the persistent widow and never give up. Keep praying, keep faith, and then wait to see just what God might do.