Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
5) Matthew 15:21-28
And behold, a Canaanitish woman came out, Sidon is one of the most ancient Canaanite cities in the world (Genesis
10:15-19). Compare the history of Elijah in this same territory during a period of great Jewish unbelief where he too
found great faith in another Syrophoenician woman (1st Kings 17). That well-know event in Hebrew history should
soften the surprise of pious Hebrews who would be tempted to be offended by the Messiah's travels and sharing
God's gracious power beyond the physical limits of Israel.
Her request came despite the distinct disadvantages of her position:
- She is a woman. Could she have known about Jewish prejudices that frowned upon a woman's talking with a
rabbi, or the reluctance of a common rabbi to be addressed by a woman (John 4:7-9 and 27)? Yet she
approached this Rabbi, confident that He is potentially so much more than the run-of-the-mill Jewish teacher,
calling Him "Lord, Son of David."
- She was Greek by culture and language, but to Hebrews, mindful of the earlier Maccabean struggles against the
paganizing tendencies of Hellenism, "Greek" means "pagan." Romans 1:13-16, Romans 2:9 and following, 1st
Corinthians 1:22-24. She was Syrophoenician because of the geographical position of her home.
Syrophoenician means that part of Phoenician domain that lies west of Syria and is connected with it.
Her RESOLUTION remained undaunted by Jesus' seeming indifference and her apparent temporary failure.
Unsatisfied to cry to Him from afar once or twice, she continued to appeal. The perplexed disciples, aware of Jesus'
purpose for this journey and His desire for anonymity, probably worry about the woman's continual shouting, since
her calling attention to the presence of the Son of David in this area could easily compromise everything Jesus
intended to accomplish toward the training of the Twelve. Two faiths were being tested: the woman and the
Matthew 15:24 - But He answered and said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This
answer is addressed primarily to the Twelve who urge Him to send her away. His personal mission is only to the
Jews in the sense that He will live, work and die among them only. His followers will evangelize the Gentiles. The
peculiar demands of His mission limit His work to the Jews, in order to guarantee salvation to all.
Only those who are willing to become lost sheep of the house of Israel can come under the terms of His mission.
This woman had something that we need. She shows proper humility, despite the rightness of her request and the
painful desperation of her need, should Christ refuse. But she came and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, help me.
"Let the children first be fed" (Mark 7:27) cannot set aside this rigorous precedence. Yet the Gospel is the power to
save anyone (Romans 1:16). Her character had a great deal to do with the toughness of her faith. So many people
pray really because they do not wish to miss a chance. This woman came because Jesus was not just a possible
helper; He was her only hope.