Bible Society of South Africa

Boundaries that burden – Day 12

Bible text(s)

A Woman's Faith

21Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him. “Son of David!” she cried out. “Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition.”

23But Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples came to him and begged him, “Send her away! She is following us and making all this noise!”

24Then Jesus replied, “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”

25At this the woman came and fell at his feet. “Help me, sir!” she said.

26Jesus answered, “It isn't right to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs.”

27“That's true, sir,” she answered; “but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their masters' table.”

28So Jesus answered her, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” And at that very moment her daughter was healed.

Matthew 15:21-28GNBOpen in Bible reader

1. A non-Jewish woman, a Canaanite cries out to Jesus, asking him to help her daughter who “is suffering terribly from demon-possession”. As a woman, a gentile and a foreigner she certainly did not know her place! “Send her away, for she keeps crying after us”, the disciples advises Jesus. What follows is a profound theological discussion. What is it about the woman’s argument that was persuasive?

2. A closer look at the text and its context points to the fact that Jesus’ reference to ‘dogs’ was describing a normal practice, not confirming it. Jews, who believed themselves to be superior in the eyes of God, usually referred to Gentiles as dogs. Besides, Jesus had already granted a similar request from a Gentile man who, like the Gentile woman, asked Jesus’ help on behalf of someone else (Matthew 8:5-13). What burdens of discriminatory prejudices do boundaries based on race, class and gender do you see in your own context?

3. The Canaanite woman understands Jesus’s mission better than both the Pharisees who are blind guides (Matt 15:14) and the disciples who “are still dull” (Matt 15:16). Does the heading, “The Faith of the Canaanite Woman” convey all there is to this story?

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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