Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from the region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And the praised the God of Israel.
The story of the Canaanite woman always confused me, probably because I used to see Jesus as this perfect guy who was always kind and never even raised his voice, and spent most of his time hanging out with lambs and singing Kumbaya. But I’ve come to learn that He had a bit of a sarcastic streak, and that really doesn’t even surprise me. He must have been so disillusioned with the entire culture! You can almost hear the bitterness in His voice when He says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He is still mad at the Pharisees with their rules, the disciples for never understanding, the Jews for being so blind, with everyone!
Now, I don’t think He’s taking His anger out on this woman. I think think He is testing her. But I think He is also trying to prove a point to the disciples and anyone else who may be watching. Do you she how humble she is, comparing herself to a dog? Yet all the while her faith is so strong. I don’t think for one second Jesus truly believed He shouldn’t cure her. I think He was pointing out how idiotic the belief that one human is better than another just because they are born differently. Could he truly not heal a very sick girl just because she wasn’t Jewish? How did they not see how wrong that was? And the fact that she bore such a terrible insult and still never lost hope that Jesus would cure her daughter … well, it makes her a person to look up to, for sure.
This whole story is a huge statement that God’s love is for anyone with faith. Jesus further drives the point home by healing so many Gentiles. And do you notice who this causes the Gentiles to praise? The God of Israel! Excluding non-believers is now way to convert them. Treating them well is.