March 10, 2021
And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us” (Matthew 15:22-23).
Jesus was silent at the woman’s request to heal her daughter. The disciples were indignant and wanted Jesus to send her away. Maybe the disciples were tired of people clamoring around Jesus, wanting something from Him all the time. Wasn’t that the reason they went out of the country and into Phoenician territory - to get away from the ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ of others? Maybe they wanted to spend time alone with Jesus just as He wanted to spend time alone with them. Whatever their feelings toward the woman, they were not the same feelings Jesus had.
Jesus did not answer the woman because He was racist or indignant or uncaring. His silence was a test of the woman’s faith. She had come out of paganism and made Her way to Jesus. She had forsaken her gods and put her trust in Christ as the Messiah. Her declaration of faith had to be tested, as does any declaration of faith. To do that Jesus had to erect barriers that would not discourage her but encourage her to draw nearer to Him. He would do the same thing later on with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22.
Silence to her initial request was test no.1. Test no. 2: we must be patience and trust in the Lord to do His will and not our own. Turning to His disciples Jesus said, I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Our Lord’s primary will was to save Israel. There were instances when Jesus did show compassion toward Gentiles, but Israel was still the chosen people of God and the Kingdom of God was still to be offered to them first but not exclusively.
The seeming rebuff had to have cut deep in the spirit of the woman. Was the God of the Jews going to treat her as her pagan, national gods did by not hearing or answering her faith? Maybe yes, maybe no, but she was not deterred by Jesus’ comment. Her love for her daughter made her all the more determined to make her case before Jesus. Tenacious faith is powerful. Hesitant faith is weak and superficial. Jesus was her only hope and she was not about to let her hope be destroyed.
“Father, thank You that Your grace and mercy toward us is infinite. Thank You that You have demonstrated Your love toward us in that while we were sinners You sent Jesus to save us. Thank You for the gift of faith that we may believe in and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And thank You that the faith You give us can weather the tests of time and circumstance. May Your name be praised and the glory be Yours through Jesus Christ, Amen.”