Scripture To Consider:
“Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from the region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’ But Jesus answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’ But Jesus answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

“Then the woman came and worshipped Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ And she said, ‘True Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s 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.” Matthew 15.21-28

Something To Consider:
Only once during His earthly ministry did Jesus leave the land of His birth. It was in those days when He wished to avoid both the opposition of His enemies and the interruption of the crowds in order that He might find quiet and solitude in which to teach His disciples the great truths they were to proclaim after His rejection and death which He now saw clearly approaching. Therefore, Jesus withdrew across the border of Galilee into parts of Tyre and Sidon.

There Jesus was met by a woman whose trust in Him was so surprising that she won from our Lord a word of unique praise: “O woman, great is your faith! Jesus seldom spoke in that way, and it is well worth our inquiring what it was in the faith of this woman which He regarded as so unique. Of course, it is notable that she was a Canaanite woman; that is one who would be considered a Gentile, or in some circles a heathen; thereby she may have known little of the religion of Israel.

Therefore, she probably had never seen our Lord perform a miracle, yet she addressed Jesus as the true Messiah, the Son of David, and asks Him to heal her daughter who was grievously vexed with a demon. It is remarkable that a stranger and a foreigner should have made such a seemingly difficult request. However, these are not the circumstances which distinguish her faith.

The greatness of her faith lies in the fact that when it was tested, her faith withstood the test. When her faith was tried it was triumphant. Can the same be said of our faith at the time of testing? What would be Jesus’ response to our faith or lack of faith in our times of trial?

This unnamed Canaanite woman’s faith was first tested by the silence of Jesus, “But He answered her not a word.” This was then and in our own modern thinking surprising. She may have heard of the sympathy of Jesus, or of His willingness to help and to heal. So, she came to Him with a broken heart and pleads for a daughter who was being grievously vexed with a demon. But Jesus made no reply to her motherly petition for help. It is like the test which comes to the followers of Christ today when, to the earnest cry of their hearts, there seems to be no response. At that time, we are tempted to doubt the effects of prayer or worse, the love of our Master. And yet, great faith is patient!

The silence of Jesus, however, did not still the cry of this eager woman and concerned mother. She followed Jesus so persistently that the disciples, moved by a selfish desire to be freed from the annoyance, requested Jesus to simply send her away, and apparently without meeting her need. Jesus then stated a law of His earthly ministry which would render it apparently impossible for Him to grant the request of the woman. “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

In other words, in the few years allotted for his task, it was wise and necessary that Jesus should confine His efforts to a limited area and to the people best prepared for His mission. It was, therefore, not His immediate purpose to perform miracles for people of other lands. And yet, the woman does not pretend to explain or elaborate on the difficulty involved. She simply turns to Jesus with undiminished fervor and falls before him and cries, “Lord, help me!”

In hours of great need, men, women, and young people who are troubled by the problems of life and death, should thus turn to Jesus in simple and trustful patient and yet persistent faith-filled prayer. Therefore, what is it that we could seek Jesus for today for ourselves or for someone else in need?

Something Else To Consider:
Jesus however, replied in words which, of all those which ever fell from His lips, seem to be most nearly cruel. The unkindness, however, was not real. His actual love must have been revealed by the accents of His voice, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” This response might have seemed to be a heartless reply to this sorrowing mother, but she saw the tender irony it contained and also the possible promise for her daughter’s relief.

Jesus seemed to be saying that His own people, who had rejected Him, regarded the Gentiles as dogs, and that His ministry had been intended for them and not for the Gentiles. He uses however, the word which implies little dogs, which in Eastern lands means they belong to the household. On this suggestion the woman seizes her opportunity. It is not exactly right to say that she entraps the Master in His words; but rather that He points out the path which her ready wit and eager faith at once followed.

Her patient and persistent faith replied, “True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” She admits that she is a Gentile and has no claim upon the help of Christ; but she believes that the granting of her request will be no real departure from the law of His earthly ministry. She suggests that even Gentiles may receive something from His overflowing grace. In fact, she makes her humble position the very ground of her plea, and therefore, further proves that great faith is patient and persistent.

Modern followers of Christ are sometimes tempted to cease from prayer by the consciousness of their own unworthiness. True faith however, clings to Christ. True faith places no confidence in self. True faith makes personal unworthiness a plea for God’s grace which is always sufficient for the need. True faith is never disappointed! Thus, Jesus turns to the woman with His matchless word of praise and love, by stating, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

Her faith had triumphed over all the tests and trials, and according to Matthew, “And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Why, however, did Jesus so test her faith? It was not to discover its quality, for He knew that in advance. But was it that it might be developed and that His disciples and the multitude might understand the conditions on which her request was to be granted? Or was it for future followers down through the centuries who would be in as much need as this concerned mother for her daughter?

If the faith of a Christian is tested today it is not that the Lord may learn his or her breaking point, but that the relationship of the believer to Jesus may be more clearly defined. If our faith is tried even by the fire of persecution, it is not to destroy our faith, but that our faith itself may be developed, and that others like the disciples may be instructed, and still others, like the multitude, may be shown the willingness of Jesus to answer and reward those who put their trust in Him.

Trials will come to the believer, and tests are part of life and the spiritual instruction process. Will we attempt to dismiss them as did the disciples for convenience, or will we continue our dialog with Jesus, looking unto Him for an open door of opportunity to avail His goodness on our behalf or on the behalf of others?

Something More To Consider:
Of each of the characters in our Scripture to consider, who do we most likely resemble or associate with at this point in our lives? Is it the unnamed Canaanite woman who would not or could not take no for an answer before humbly presenting her plea patiently and yet persistently to Jesus?

Is it the seemingly compassionless disciples and future leaders in training, who only offered a trite request for Jesus to send her away without meeting her need or at least hearing her out? Or do we better resemble or associate with the daughter who was grievously tormented by a demonic influence in and over her life?

If our answer reveals our spiritual need for more of a spirit of compassion or mercy to be granted us as the disciples were in need of, then we have gained important spiritual insight into lack of sufficiency in our lives. If we more easily see ourselves reflecting characteristics of a child of God in much need of someone of great faith, patience, and spiritual persistence, then we must find comfort and much needed relief from our text and the overall outcome which resulted in total deliverance of any and all spiritual bondage.

A Few Final Words:
If we can honestly claim a likeness to this Gentile woman’s great faith according to Jesus, then we too are already in our heart of hearts worshipping Jesus for the grand gift of great faith and patience to persist. And if that is the case, that great faith has probably come to us by way of a great price! Great faith is not easily obtained, but it should be sought after no matter the cost or conflict it may take to create that faith!

But for the majority of us, who more rightly resemble or represent Peter and his little faith from a previous Scripture to consider; we too desire this sometimes seemingly allusive great faith! Therefore, it is a daily process of becoming and remaining faithful in the little things of life. Our journey to obtaining great faith continues by our being more compassionate, more merciful, and more grateful for small and large graces afforded us as true end time followers of Jesus.

In Closing:
And finally, great faith one day appears without fanfare, without advance warning, and yet, not without our little faith being tried and becoming triumphant in Jesus Christ. Yes, great faith is patient and persistent! And yes, great faith may possibly one day be both rewarded and publicly acknowledged by Jesus Himself.

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the trying of our little and at times fragile faith. Your goal is that we become overcomers and triumphant in our earthly lives while we journey to and with Jesus. Thank You for Your constant reminder that great faith is patient and persistent. Help us in our learning these lessons of a lifetime from Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!

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