8 November 2011

Matthew 15:21-28

"Woman, great is your faith!" (v. 28)


If any of you are Christian and not of Jewish descent - then thank God for this woman!

This unnamed Canaanite woman is worthy of our admiration:

  • Firstly, she stood up to Jesus (which, as it happens, is a very Jewish thing to do)! I was once told (by a Jew) that the difference between a Christian and a Jew is that when things go wrong for a Christian, they decide there is no God; but when things go wrong for a Jew, they shout at God. Today's disciples of Jesus can sometimes placate their own realities. They tell themselves that 'God has a master plan' or that somehow, even though they are in deep turmoil, 'God knows what he is doing'. Perhaps we should learn from this brave, gentile woman and say to God, 'This stinks! I might not deserve every blessing - but I certainly don't deserve this misery!'

  • Secondly, she's smart! Jesus has a habit of talking in riddles, using stories and parables to get his point across. Often the hearers are at a loss to the meaning, and certainly do not have a comeback; but this woman did. When Jesus uses an analogy of dogs (non-Jews) taking the food (blessings) from the children (Jews), this woman uses the analogy to help Jesus understand where she is coming from. "I don't want to steal the blessing rightly offered to Jews, I want to be blessed by their blessing," she says.

  • Thirdly, she has faith! It never occurs to her that Jesus might not be able to do what she asks. She seems utterly convinced that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of David has the power to heal her daughter. What is more amazing is that her faith does not stem from her upbringing (as she isn't a Jew) but from the rumour that she has heard of the healer-man, the one that some Jews call Messiah.


To Ponder

How easy is it for you to stand up to God? Is it desirable? To what extent does it show a depth of faith or a lack of respect?

Who is blessed because you are blessed? Who gets to eat from beneath the table where God feeds you?

Are you a holy gossiper? How do people in your neighbourhoods get to hear of the things God does and so have a sense of God's transformational power?

Bible notes author

The Revd Simon Sutcliffe

Simon Sutcliffe is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church currently working part time as the tutor for evangelism and church growth at Queen's Foundation, Birmingham and part time as a pioneer minister with Venture FX establishing new forms of Christian community in the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District. Simon has four children who help to keep him grounded and in a constant cycle of tidying up(!), and is deeply disappointed that none of them support Bradford City..