Summary: A Gentile woman had a daughter who suffered from a serious problem. Desperate, she went to find Jesus. What did He do for this woman, and her daughter?
Most of the people who received healing from Jesus were Israelites, kinsmen of Christ according to the flesh. Jesus did indeed heal many people from many different diseases such as blindness, deafness, paralysis, muteness; He even cast out demons. The Gospels have numerous examples where Jesus performed these types of healing for fellow Israelites.
But there was at least one occasion when Jesus ministered to a foreign woman, a Gentile from another country. The text is from Mark chapter 7, beginning with verse 24 through 30, from the King James Version (KJV):
Mk 7:24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know [it]: but he could not be hid. 25 For a [certain] woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast [it] unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
I Jesus departed from Israel temporarily
Several things had happened in a seemingly brief period of time just before this event took place. Beginning in chapter 6, we can read that John the Baptist had been executed. Following this, the disciples and Jesus had fed the 5000 men using only five small loaves and a pair of fish. Now they were going to row across the Sea of Galilee to Gennesaret but ran smack-dab into a contrary wind, so that they were going nowhere fast. Then they saw Jesus walking on the water, He joined them in the boat, and they reached the other shore.
The last few verses of chapter 6 give in a summary what Jesus did, mostly healing people. This in quite a contrast to another visit of Jesus and the disciples some time earlier: Gadara was in the same vicinity, where Jesus had cast a “legion” of evil spirits out of a man. The reaction of the citizens? They begged Jesus to leave! But Jesus had at least one disciple, namely, the man whom Jesus had healed! Could the change in this visit be a result of one man’s testimony?
There was one serious problem, though, and that involved the “mission” of some Pharisees and scribes, who had come all the way from Jerusalem to Gennesaret or Gadara (the east side of the Sea of Galilee)—apparently, to either spy or find fault with something, anything, that Jesus was doing. Sure enough, they pounced on the first problem they saw, namely, that the disciples were eating with unwashed hands. The first several verses of chapter 7 have the record of how Jesus answered these folks, plus how He explained some other things to the disciples.
It’s with all of this in mind that Jesus, being human, simply needed some time alone! In fact, verse 24 states that Jesus didn’t want anyone to know where He was. We can compare this with another time Jesus was in a house, but did not make an effort to let people know where He was. Chapter 2 says that He was in a house, preaching the Word of God to the people, and the people were lined up near the door to the house, keeping the ones who needed healing away from Jesus (accidentally?) and His healing touch. Now He’s in a secluded spot, where He and the disciples could get a little rest and refreshment.
Or could they?
II Jesus listened to a woman in distress
Verse 25 tells us that a woman made one of the most sincere requests for help that we’ll read in the Gospels. Mark also tells us that this woman’s daughter had an “unclean spirit”. Among other things, this tells us that the Devil, the enemy of our souls, was after youth of that day as well. Think of it: not only was this young girl possessed by an evil spirit, but in Mark 1, there was a man in the synagogue; chapter 5 tells about the “maniac of Gadara”; and Luke 9 has the story of a young man who was seriously afflicted. Surely this handful of youth were not the only ones who suffered from problems like this. Yet, there was one thing in common: according to the Gospels, when the parents discovered the demon possession and oppression, they did something about it. They got the children to Jesus and asked Him to heal their children!