The passage in Matthew 15:21-28 is a tough one. You have this woman who is not a Jew come to Jesus and beg Him to heal her possessed daughter. Jesus doesn’t answer her. She keeps after them to the point of driving the disciples nuts, and they want her sent away. When they ask Jesus to get rid of her, His answer is interesting. He says “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” That answer would have made sense if they were asking Jesus to heal her daughter, but they weren’t. They said “Get rid of her.” You would think His answer would be like “You send her away” or “Let her follow us, she is doing no harm” or something dealing with whether or not to get rid of her. Instead, He throws out a “theological” answer dealing with whether or not she qualifies for His help. “I was only sent to help lost followers of God” is what He says.
She comes in front of Him and begs for help. His answer again is based on this idea of who He is there to help. “I am here to help those who are seeking God”, at which point she proves with her humility that she is a God follower. He then tells her that her daughter is healed, and He doesn’t even go see the daughter. He healed the daughter based on the mom’s faith.
It’s a really different story. It seems that He loves to work with people who aren’t Jews, and heal their kids from a distance. He does it with the centurion’s servant, and some others as well. So, what’s His point?
It’s not about the systems we think God cares about. He is focused on who lives out a vibrant faith, not what their background is. Does a person believe that Jesus is God, and do they act on it? Yes? Great! Drop the rest of the requirements, He will bless them.
The challenge is in digging in my own life and rooting out where I am more traditional Jew than I am Canaanite mom. Where am I counting on my understanding of God’s system and not really running to Him, begging and trusting for mercy and power? I don’t like this question, because it pokes deep in my soul and brings up long ignored sin.
Why does the Bible have to be such a living book, anyway?