The Canaanite Woman

A reading for Monday, June 9, 2014: Matthew 15:21-28.

The Canaanites were ancient enemies of Israel. There were theological issues between them over idol worship and true worship. There were political issues over the rightful ruler of God's people. Canaanites also believed in God. There were territorial issues over land and property ownership. The feud between them was ancient and deeply held.

To keep the peace most Jews did not even speak to Canaanites. Better to say nothing at all than something that causes more strife... Perhaps this is the reason Jesus snubs the Canaanite woman who comes asking for healing. He doesn't even speak to her.

But she is undeterred. This Canaanite woman comes with persistence. She knows that it is the ones in the ancient world that will not take "no" for an answer that get what they came for. Most importantly, this Canaanite woman comes with humility that transcends ancient feuds.

She acknowledges Jesus as Son of David. To us and our modern ears, that is almost invisible as an address for the Lord. Of course Jesus is Son of David. But to a Canaanite to acknowledge Jesus this way is to acknowledge David's kingship over your own people. It is to admit defeat. It is to set aside the ancient ugly feud, in favor of a new way of peace. Not even the people of Israel were recognizing Jesus in such a way at this point in the story. Yet the Canaanite woman knows Jesus is Messiah.

When the woman acknowledges that the mission of the Messiah is primarily for Israel, and Jews over her own people, Jesus is finally moved. “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

The lesson for us is clear. Be bold. Be persistent. Be humble in the way you approach God, asking God for what you desire. Know that Jesus is the one, the Messiah, the only one who can save. No matter who else grace falls upon, know that grace is for you too. Do this, and you might hear the same message...

"Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."


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