Summary: The woman had faith that only the crumbs would do, but Jesus has a better meal planned for those who are His.
“Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.”
We have a small dog of the Basenji breed, named Pippin. When it comes time for a meal at our house, Pippin finds a place to lay outside of the kitchen area in obedience to the ‘no dogs allowed during mealtime’ rule.
When the meal is done however, and when he sees that we’ve all gotten up from the table and begun to clear the food and dishes away, Pippin makes his appearance under and around the table performing what I call ‘Crumb Patrol’. He wants to get at any morsels that might have found their way to the floor as we ate, before we can get out the broom and deny him the treat.
Little does he realize that he is the broom, and allowing him to do crumb patrol usually saves us that small amount of work.
I almost called this sermon ‘Crumb Patrol’, but I changed the title as I thought it through and concluded that since the sermon is not about our dog the title should not center on him either.
I open this way though, because we’ll be talking about someone whose desperation brought them to a faith that believes God can and will give from His abundance, even though the crumbs from His table would suffice.
WHAT THEY WERE DOING THERE
Jesus and His disciples had gone to the far north of the Galilean region for the purpose of getting away from the multitudes. This was late in the earthly ministry of Jesus and it is logical to assume that He wanted the time to speak privately and directly to the twelve, preparing them for what was to transpire soon in Jerusalem and establish the truths in them that the Holy Spirit would later bring to the surface for their own understanding and for what they as the Apostles of Jesus would go on to teach.
Verse 21 says that Jesus withdrew with them into the district of Tyre and Sidon, and that word ‘withdrew’ is used numerous times in the Gospels in reference to His going to a quiet place to pray, or getting into a boat to leave one region for another, or to take His disciples away to a quiet place for teaching.
It is during this time that He feeds the multitudes miraculously, it is where near Caesarea Philippi He extracts from Peter the confession of belief in Him as the Christ of God, it is here that Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain and is transfigured before them as He meets with Moses and Elijah to discuss His imminent departure from Jerusalem, meaning His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.
So if you have a Bible with maps in the back you can go to whichever one shows that area to the far north and along the east bank of the Mediterranean you will see Tyre and Sidon due west of Mount Hermon, and it is probably near the border or just over the border of this region where they went, rather than all the way to the sea.
It is Gentile territory, and in fact they are now among people who are descendants of those who had warred with the Children of Israel when they first came into the land led by Joshua.
They are the Canaanites, and this was a Canaanite woman as mentioned in our text.
You may imagine what must have been going through the minds and perhaps passing around the disciples in whispers as they continued farther north and into this region in particular. They may have been getting a ‘I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’ feeling. But imagine their disgust when this Gentile dog, - for ‘dogs’ is what the Jews called Gentiles and especially the groups around them that they despised so much, - when this ‘dog’ came out ‘shouting’, it says, and trying to get the attention of their Master.