2021_02_23 Insight Post- Jim Morgans
This week's reading- Matthew 15 & 16
My wife loves to serve, this is best expressed in her love for hospitality to others through a well prepared meal. Deb and I love to visit with family; our son and daughter, their spouses, and of course our four grandchildren. And some of the most memorable times happen while we’ve shared an incredible meal planned and prepared by Debbie, or Grambee, as the kids have coined her.
Included with family at our gatherings are our pets; my son, my daughter, and Deb and I each have a dog, either full Labrador or Lab mix; Wallace, Bounty, and Rey. You can imagine the level of noise and activity that takes place when we all spend a weekend together. At meal time, the dogs are put in the adjoining room so that they don’t beg for food during the entire meal, but once the meal is finished, Wallace and Bounty, (not Rey as I frown on her having people food) are permitted to eat all the crumbs and spoils that the grandkids have so readily dropped on the dining room floor. They too get to enjoy the riches of Debbie’s most incredible meal.
Matt. 15:27, “for even the puppies beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall.”
In Matthew 15:21-28 we read of a Gentile mother from Canaan who recites these words as she pleads with Jesus to help her daughter who has a demon within her. When first approached, Jesus refuses to answer her nagging request, He speaks “not even a word” to her. The disciples in their frustration urge Jesus to just send her away. My same response when I send our dogs away from the dinner table because of their begging.
But when Jesus does reply He says, “I was sent to help the Jews – the lost sheep of Israel – not the Gentiles.” Here once again Jesus does the unexpected. Why would he respond with such insensitivity, for He healed and ministered to Gentiles on many occasions, and at this time He was on a mission to the Gentile people within Gentile territory? Why wouldn’t He help the woman’s daughter?
From what we can gather, Jesus was simply making a point that Jews were to have the first opportunity to accept Him as the Messiah, for God wanted the Jews to present the message of salvation to the world. Genesis 12:3, “…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Or maybe Jesus was testing this Gentile woman’s faith, seizing another opportunity to show that faith is surely available for all people.
Interestingly, the woman wasn’t offended or turned away by Jesus’ insensitive words. She was on a mission to help her daughter. And we should take notice of the manner in which she pleads her case to Jesus. She didn’t plead specifically for her daughter, but she was pleading for herself. She said, “Sir, help me!” She came to Jesus to intercede for her daughter, she made her daughter’s needs her own. She also knew very well who Jesus was at a time when others surely didn’t, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.” She knew Jesus was the Messiah.
Surprisingly, Jesus continued to speak discouraging words to this woman, “It doesn’t seem right to take bread from the children and throw it to the dogs.” His way of saying don’t take an opportunity from the Jews and give it to the Gentiles. (Note: “Dogs” - a term often used by the Jews to describe the Gentiles.)
Amazingly the woman agrees and accepts Jesus’ narrative and replies, “Yes it is.” But despite of it, she asks for mercy and continues to intercede, being humble, being patient, and surely persevering for the care of her daughter. She responds to Jesus with, “for even the puppies beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall.”
Finally, Jesus gives the woman an encouraging word, “your faith is large, and your request is granted.” And the daughter was healed right then.
So, what does this teaching mean to us?
Let us bow down and worship Jesus as this woman did, knowing in our hearts that He is truly our Lord and Savior. Let us realize that our faith can and will be challenged in unexpected places and in unexpected times, usually in those moments when we feel most undeserving. Let our prayers on behalf of others be vibrant and bold, showing our great faith, and finally let us never stop believing in the power and love of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
So, when I gather with family to enjoy those incredible meals together, I will watch our three dogs, oh so attentive, waiting patiently in anticipation of the gifts to come, and I will remember this story and this woman’s strong faith. And yes, the dogs beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall, including Rey once in a while.
Praise Jesus, what a story teller, what a teacher! May the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you, be gracious unto you and grant you His peace, in your going out and in your coming in.
Director of Pastoral Care