“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread 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, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:21–28, ESV)
If I am honest for years I struggled with this passage. This is most likely due to the fact that I (like most of us) have felt the sting of rejection at times, and as a result I focused more on the words Jesus said to her than her response to them. But now this is one of my favorite passages . There is a lot to glean from it. Including the fact that:
- Jesus came to her – The passage says “Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out” So Jesus, who was fully God (as well as fully man), and therefore would be all knowing, came to a place where she was. She was no surprise to him.
- Jesus said that her Faith was great – Even though Matthew uses the “great” word twenty times in his book, this is the only time that he links it with the word “faith.” Also it “is interesting that Jesus does not commend the woman’s persistence or her humility.”1 Those are things that are about her character. Jesus only complemented two people on their faith. She was one and the Roman centurion, (Matthew 8:10) was the other. So what does great faith look like? Well:2
*Great Faith Looks Like Self-forgetfulness – She sought Jesus at all cost, regardless of how she looked to others.
And Jesus only complemented two people on their faith. She was one and the Roman centurion, (Matthew 8:10) was the other. There are several reason he could have done so, such as:2
*Great Faith Focuses on a Higher Power – She knew that Jesus could do for her daughter what she had to power to.
*Great Faith Does Not Quit When Obstacles Interfere – Jesus tested her faith by giving her reasons to give up. But she persisted. Phillips Brooks said “Do not pray for easy lives. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” Never quit!
*Great Faith Wins – If you are doing what God has called you do do, you will accomplish it in his timing.
3. Jesus answered her Prayer – Jesus gave her the desire of her heart through her faith in him.
So now looking at this passage I see that she was a woman who pursued God with all her heart, and although she did struggle, she was heard, and her prayer was answered.
Not every prayer may be answered in the way that we desire, but every prayer of ours will be answered. We will not be turned away.
All verses from: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 15:21–22.
- Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 405–406
2. Outline taken from LeRoy Lawson, Matthew: Unlocking the Scriptures for You, Standard Bible Studies (Cincinnati, OH: Standard, 1986), 196.