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May 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty-two – Matthew 15:21-28

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.  Matthew 15:26-28

What a cold response this woman received from the Lord when she first approached him, “This gift I have is not for you. You do not belong to the right race, because I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” His words are chilling because the way we have come to know Jesus through the Scriptures is that he is for everyone and anyone. The promise of God is open to “whoever believes in Him” (Jn. 3:16). But in this instance, Jesus ignored the woman because she was a Gentile.

Then what?

Then she beat him at his own game, which never happens to the Lord. But she did it.

Read through the gospels. People were frequently trying to trip up Jesus, challenging him with difficult questions, and attempting to embarrass him (Mt. 12:10; Jn. 8:6; etc.). “By what authority are You doing these things?” “Should we pay taxes to Rome or not?” “Should we stone this woman?” But Jesus wins every time. He is always the One with the clever comeback, the quick wit, the perfect answer that catches his opponents in their words, and those who challenged him are the ones who walk away in shame.

But here Jesus is the One caught in his words by this woman, and he instantly acknowledged that she got the better of him and so won from him the deliverance she requested for her daughter. In fact, Jesus congratulated the Gentile woman for her “great faith” (compare the disciples’ “little faith” in nearby references–e.g., Mt. 14:31; 16:8). It is precisely her faith that enabled her to take his words and use them to press her case.

This courageous woman strongly believed that Jesus was the answer to her crisis and so she kept charging forward, accepting everything he had to say. Even when he referred to her as a “dog,” her response was “Yes, Lord,” as if to say, “I am whatever You say I am, and all I ask is what such a one as I can hope to receive.”

What have we overlooked in this conversation? The fact that Jesus used an analogy to explain to her why she was not on his list. If Jesus had talked straight with her, if he had simply said, “This is not for you. Leave, now!” there would have been no more dialogue. The door would have been slammed in her face. Instead, by presenting an analogy, Jesus gave her the opportunity to catch him in his words. An analogy rather than an imperative left an opening for her, which she immediately recognized and entered. Did your father ever let you beat him in a race to the door? That is what Jesus did for her.

Lord Jesus, when we feel we have been denied a request that would nurture our spiritual growth or that of our family and that You could so easily give to us, remind us to look for any possible opening we can push our way through, realizing that what You want from us is “great faith.” We thank You, that through faith we can win You over.


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