And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
(Matthew 15:22-28 KJV)
The place is Tyre and Sidon, where is now modern-day Lebanon. These two principal cities were on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea during the time of our text. In its history, Tyre was the leading seaport of the world. Tyre witnessed success and conquest by some of the world-renowned power, the Babylonians, the Persians, and Alexander. Yet, with all its historical connections, there remains one account that has, and will withstand the test of time. The account of a woman, a mother of an unflinching faith. A Syrophoenician, a title denoting likely a mixed race, half Phoenicians and half Syrians. A woman, perhaps of a higher affluent class, yet in need of a miracle. Sin and illness regard no class. Thank God, Jesus the Great Physician, His healing has no boundaries. If we reach out to Him, He will reach down to us by grace and love.
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
How can we be pulled out from our situation of desperation and despair if we are not willing to acknowledge the mess we are in and the mess we have become? The statement to this lady was the question the Lord asked of Jacob in the Old Testament before blessing him; What is your name? Did He not know the name of Jacob? Of course, He did. The name Jacob means fraud and a deceiver, so by Him asking Jacob what is your name? In essence, Jacob had to acknowledge who he was, a fraud in need of The TRUTH, a deceiver in nature and in need of legitimacy.
Back to our texts, these were strong words from the lips of Him who is Love. By the Lord metaphorically comparing the case of this lady with a dog (of that time), this doesn’t mean He did her wrong, nor did He display ill way toward her. Instead, his metaphorical statement was first to show the true striking reality of all of those who are without the God of the Bible, like this lady was. They are not heirs of the blessing from God, neither do they dictate to the source for that which they receive. Like a scavenger without any affirmation of hope, they receive only that which is given.
Yet, like Jacob of old, this lady knew her desperate situation and who she was, an outsider. Even in her lowliness she recognized she was in the presence of the Lofty One. Despite what others thought of her. Yet, she acknowledged her dire situation, she reached out in faith to the Master, and His grace reach way down for her, to lift her up in compassion, out of despair and gave her hope and affirmation.
If we reach out to the Lord and face the hindrance of discouragement, let us not turn aside, but for this cause, let us desire to draw ever closer to the Lord.
The lessons of intercession found in these passages are:
An effectual intercession on behalf of others must first be the representation of self, as a transparent vessel wherewith blessing and answer which the individual prayed for may flow through the prayer, unto the one being prayed for.
When we seek the Lord on behalf of another, let us know it is for us as well in all sincerity, by willing to surrender our will to the mercy of the Lord.
The best illustration is seen through Christ and the Cross. On behalf of us, He Give it His all by surrendering to the will of the Father.
For I have come down out of Heaven, not that I should do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
(John 6:38 LITV)
She does not claim to be one of the children, and has no thought of
depriving them of their bread. She accepts the position of one of
the family dogs. But such animals are members of the household
and they get what the children do not want. Without confusing the
difference between Jews and heathen, and without depriving the
Jews of anything that is theirs, He may grant her request. The
metaphor which Christ had used as a reason for rejecting her
petition she turns into a reason for granting it. (Stanley D. Toussaint)