Sunday 20 August 2017

Bible Book:

“Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” (v. 28)

Matthew 15:21-28 Sunday 20 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm 133



How do you react to Jesus' initial rejection of the Canaanitewoman? It is difficult, particularly verse 26 which becomes only alittle more palatable when we realise that the word for 'dog'refers to a household pet.

Yet, our story finishes with a commendation - Jesus recognisedthe strength of the woman's faith and healed her daughter. We areleft with the distinct impression that Jesus started an argument,the woman won it and Jesus was impressed. Why would thathappen?

Part of our problem here is that there is an issue that facedthose who originally wrote and read the Gospel, which we no longerworry about. Is the gospel (good news of Jesus) only for Jews? Andif non-Jews can also follow Christ, do they have to become Jewsfirst? Imagine for a moment being in a church which is arguingabout this and hearing a story in which Jesus appears at first totake one position, but is apparently won over by the arguments ofsomeone who is not Jewish. What might the very fact that helistened so attentively to a non-Jew say? Imagine, in particular,that you have been brought up reading the Jewish Scriptures whichtell of human beings doing that most surprising thing of arguingwith God.

Perhaps, this story does something subtle but important. Itplaces the woman in a long line of Jewish people of faith who daredto disagree with God, when it seemed that God was acting or wasgoing to act in a way that they did not understand. See, forexample, Abraham (Genesis 18:16-33), Moses (Exodus3-4), Elijah (1 Kings 19), Jeremiah (chapters 12,20) and Jonah (chapter 1). All these stories are quite difficult if weconcentrate on the picture of God which emerges, but they alsocommunicate something very important about what faith is like in adifficult world where we do not always understand what is goingon.

Do we portray faith as only meaning that we should passivelytrust God? Or does faith in a difficult world ask something else ofus?

To Ponder

  • Why do you think Jesus commended the woman's faith?
  • Thinking of your own basic sense of what it means to have faithin God - what place does being willing to argue with God have?
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