Summary: This is one of the most difficult passages in the Gospels because it seems to portray a harsh, callous and uncaring Jesus. But it’s not. Find out why.
OPEN: In 1948, Harry Truman authorized an expenditure of $10,000 to have a balcony installed on the south side of the second floor of the White House. He’d barely gotten around to enjoying it when he became the first president since James Madison to evacuate the White House out of fear for his life.
“Found the White House ‘falling down,’” he wrote in his diary. “My daughter’s sitting room floor had broken down into the family dining room.”
Truman had lived in the White House long enough to know that it wasn’t in the best of shape – the floor in the upstairs study swayed and creaked when he walked across it, and the chandelier in the Blue Room swung back and forth for no reason. But he was astonished at the what structural engineers told him:
The beams that held the building up had been cut into so many times, and were carrying so much more weight than they had been designed to carry, that they had begun to split under the strain.
The entire building was on the verge of collapse. The family quarters on the second floor were in such bad shape that they were being held up “purely by habit”.
Truman had 3 choices:
1. Move away and have the White House designated a museum
2. Tear the White House down and build a replica in its place;
3. Save the exterior walls, tear down everything else, and replace it with an exact replica of the original interior.
Truman chose the third option and moved across the street to Blair House, normally the government’s guest house for visiting heads of state. According to Kenneth Leish:
“Mantelpieces, wall paneling, fixtures, moldings – all taken apart and stored for later reinstallation. Then the whole interior was demolished and steel beams were erected to support the new interior. The entire structure was fireproofed and air-conditioned and the outer walls were shored up. It took four years and more the $5 million…”(Uncle John’s Great Big Bathroom Reader p. 398)
APPLY: On the outside the White House of 1948 was a beautiful building that appeared to be structurally sound and stable.
But on the inside, it was falling apart and dangerous.
It was in serious need of drastic surgery to become useful again.
Keep that thought in the back of your mind for a moment.
The story we read here in Matthew seems to paint a picture of a Jesus I’m not entirely comfortable with.
I mean – the Jesus I know is:
The good shepherd.
The loving teacher
The healer who would reach into broken lives and make them whole
The Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins.
Everything we’ve read about Him in the Gospels speaks of a tender and loving savior who gave all He had for us
But here in this text we seem to be seeing an entirely different Jesus. Here, He appears to be harsh, callous, uncaring.
We’re told of grieving mother who comes to Him seeking help.
And what does He do?
First He ignores this woman.
Then He tells His disciples that His ministry is only for the lost sheep of Israel.
Then He calls her… a dog!
When I first read this… it made me cringe
This isn’t the Jesus I know.
This isn’t how I’d expect my Savior to respond to a woman in crisis.
But then… I looked a little deeper and I realized a couple of things that I hadn’t seen at first.
1. This is NOT the first time Jesus has been approached by Gentiles for help. In Luke 6:17 we’re told that shortly after Jesus chose His 12 disciples “a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases”
Jesus healed people from Tyre and Sidon– just like this woman was - only a few months earlier
AND in Mt. 8 - just a few chapters previously– Jesus heals servant of a Roman centurion.
Romans were Gentiles just like this lady was
They were hated by almost all the Jews.
And yet Jesus didn’t object to healing that man’s servant.
2. This is the ONLY TIME we know of that He ventured into the land of Tyre and Sidon, and (as far as we can tell) this is the ONLY person that He met while He was there.
Do you think Jesus knew about this woman before she came to Him?
Do you think Jesus knew she was going to come and seek His help?
AND do you suppose that maybe He came to Tyre specifically to meet her? (I think so)
This is Jesus - the Son of God.
He knows everything.