Jesus was astounded by the faith of a Canaanite woman. He used her as an example of the kind of single-minded, determined, unrelinquishing faith that He hoped to develop in all believers. Faith like that is affected by despair and hope. This certainly was the case of this Canaanite woman.
She was a desperate woman. Her daughter was demon possessed. This must have beensimply a torturous experience for a mom. I bet she tried everything to get helpfor this daughter she loved. What help is there for someone who is demon possessed?There was no medicine to save her. There wasn’t a 12-step program advertisingpromising results. The only solution was religious. Though a Gentile, she waswilling to study the Jewish beliefs if that would bring relief to her sufferingchild.
Perhaps she learned about Jesus from a Jewish friend. She may have heard thatHe had successfully cast out demons. She had done her homework to find out whereHe was staying because the Scripture says He had withdrawn to the region of Tyreand Sidon, which indicates to me that He was not actively involved in ministryor making it known where He could be found—His office hours were over.This did not stop her. Before she found Him she had done her homework on Himand, more than that, she fully believed that He alone had the power to changeher daughter’s desperate situation. She believed that He was the Son ofDavid, the promised Messiah, because that is what she called Him. She cried indesperation, Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is sufferingterribly from demon possession. Her request was clear and full of faith.She had done everything right. She was praying to the Lord, the Son of David,and asking for mercy, telling Him the degree of suffering and the diagnosis ofher daughter’s problem. But Jesus did not speak a word to her (Matthew15:23).
Now many of us take a response like that at best as a No, and at worstas a God doesn’t care answer. The Canaanite woman did not seeJesus’ silence that way. He was her only hope and her faith was all shehad to cling to. The disciples understood Jesus’ silence to be an indicationthat her request was not important to Him, and they gave the advice that He sendher away because she kept asking for healing. Rather than sending this womanof great faith away, Jesus answered her by pointing out that He had been sentto Israel and she was not a Jew. Others might take that obvious fact as a No. Nother; she pressed closer to Jesus and knelt down before Him and simply said, Lord,help me!
This time Jesus reasoned that it wasn’t right to take the bread from thechildren and feed it to the dogs. This could have been taken as a deep insult,but she did not see it as an insult. She seemed to understand that He was a Godwith a plan and it was to minister to the Jews first, but she did point out thatbread crumbs do fall to the dogs and that was all she needed.
That was all Jesus needed for the disciples to see what great faith is—unrelenting,determined, abandoned faith. He bragged on her great faith and her daughter washealed at that moment. How’s your faith?