24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[g] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Desperate Hearted Woman
This woman in this passage is desperate. We must see, though, who she is. She is Greek by culture. This means that she is probably pagan. She allows for many gods and godesses. She is certainly not familiar with the rules that Jewish people followed in order to show themselves as set apart, holy, pure in God’s eyes. Secondly, she is from Tyre. She is a Syro-Phoenecian. Tyre and Sidon were the principle cities in a wealthy trading nation called Phoenecia. They had technologically developed ships and supplied their needs by taking the supplies from their hinterland. This hinterland was shared with Galilee. In other words, powerful Tyre was an economic rival with Jesus’ home land and took all their supplies when ever they could. There was hatred between the Jews and Syro-Phoenecians and it would seem that the enmity was with good cause. In effect, this woman’s nation oppressed Jesus’ people and scoffed at God. It is a woman from this background who then comes to Jesus and begs him to heal her daughter. On top of the racial and cultural obstacles to Jesus’ help, she was also a woman.
It was something for her to do this. She had to go to a man and ask of him something. She had to go to a Jew who would probably look down on her for her pagan religion and elitism. She did it anyway. She was courageous and her desperate heart more truly reflected the passionate pursuit of a disciple than many of Jesus’ disciples. She got the reply that she probably anticipated. Jesus told her a riddle that showed her relative status in the eyes of the Jewish majority, but then she shows the nature of her heart. She is humble and faithful. She is not resentful, bitter, and resistant. Most of all, she is not proud. Call her a dog, if you like, she will own it. Call her anything you want, but don’t leave her child with a demon. After this heart is revealed, Jesus reveals his. He commends this heart for its desperate pursuit of him. We have no account that she became a Jew, a monotheist, or that she moved house. She humbly accepted Jesus’ touch on her household and we can see her house would never be the same.
Jesus accepts us with our flaws. We just need to see how Jesus continually meets the desperate condition of our heart and heals us moment by moment. He has no prejudice about who will come to him. There are no preconditions about whether we come from polytheism, pluralism, poverty or riches. We all come in the same condition. We are desperate and Jesus may test our understanding of that. Just how desperate are you? Is faith in Jesus just a comfortable addition to your life? Or do you realise that you are constructing a nightmare and wedded to failure? Come to Jesus he will wipe away the nightmares and turn failures into success. However, abide in his grace or pride and complacency will calcify your heart and the cross that once spanned such a great divide will seem to shrink in your estimation.
Jesus, I am desperate. My heart is divided, but you can make it whole. I want so many things that I believe will satisfy me, give me an advantage, or keep me safe. Often I grasp at things without even knowing why. Then I lack the courage to pursue you and your calling because I think that it is all about me and my efforts. Let me just fall face down in the dust – I hesitate to pray for you to break me. I anticipate that it will be painful and not sweet. I know in my head that the desperate situation of the Syro-Phoenician woman led to a deeper connection with you. However, I do not want my children hurt, my wife taken, or my house burned just to show me that I need you more. It is hard for me to pray for you to do whatever it takes to give me more of yourself. It seems so often that is a prayer where our misguided loyalties are revealed to us through painful events. Yet not my will …
- Where has Jesus’ gone?
- Why does Jesus respond to the woman this way?
- What does her persistence reveal?
- How has Jesus been harsh with you?
- How did you push on to something deeper because Jesus hid his heart?