Matthew 15:24-28 “Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
A couple of Sundays ago, I sat and listened to a sermon that was delivered by the Pastor of a church my wife and I attend on occasion. In it he referred to this passage of scripture. Something about it struck me deeply at that time.
Jesus had come to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon for a retreat of sorts. Here he had come to spend time with his disciples and to feed them His Word in an intimate setting so that they would be ready to step out into ministry upon His departure from earth. I can imagine that they must have hung on his every word and devoured everything that He spoke to them. He was, after all, the Living Word —the logos — the incarnate Word of God. Perhaps the hunger and desire they had can be best understood when we listen to the words of Christ in John 6.
In John 6: 31- 35 Jesus responds to a question from the people regarding a sign that He would give them so that they could believe in His Word to them. They pointed to the work that God did for their ancestors in the desert. God had provided for the Israelite children by giving them bread from heaven. And now they wanted some kind of sign from Him as well. They quoted the scripture to Jesus in the belief that Moses had provided them with this spiritual bread. Jesus corrects them in this instance by telling them that it was not Moses that gave them this bread from heaven. It was the Heavenly Father who gave them this bread. In fact, he proclaimed, just like the bread that came from heaven and gave life to the Israelites in a place where they would have otherwise died, He was the Bread of Life unto the world. “I am the bread of life,” he proclaimed, “he that cometh to me shall never hunger;” He was and is the Giver of Life.
Looking back, into the past at the story of their ancestors being fed by God with manna, the people failed to recall that the Israelites had despised the bread. They had looked upon this heavenly manna with disgust and had even gotten to the point where they rebelled against God’s Word and did not trust Him to provide manna the next day. Many gathered more then they needed in an action that showed they did not believe that God would give them this bread the following day. Although the miraculous was taking place before their very eyes they continued to complain and begrudgingly follow the Lord God. In fact, they began to hate and despise the food so much that they began to speak against Moses and against God.
Numbers 21: 4-5 “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.”
This was rebellion. This was a fist in the face of God to say ‘God, your bread is not good enough. We want more. We demand more! Will you continue to give us this loathsome bread?! Is this why you brought us out of bondage from the cruel masters of Egypt to kill us here in this desert!?’ They had lost sight of the Redeemer, the Blesser, and they were now demanding blessing on their terms. They wanted God to meet their demands. They were seeking the place — the seat — of the Master. They had been called to the highest calling of any human being upon the face of the planet earth to be the servants of the Sovereign, Holy, and Righteous God. But the sinful nature of man is that we desire more. And they, the Israelites, displayed an attitude that indicated they wanted God to bow to them.
God had been faithful to the Israelites from the time of their captivity to the time of their miraculous escape from Pharaoh’s army through the Red Sea. He fed them, clothed them, and when they were thirsty he gave them water. In fact, we see prior to their rebellious accusations against God that God had miraculously delivered into their hands the Canaanite people who had raided their camps and taken many of the Israelites captive.
Numbers 21: 1-3 “And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.”
God had heard the voice of the Israelites in the time of their trouble and they vowed unto the Lord what they would do if He, God, would deliver the Canaanites into their hands. God gave them the victory that day and they named that place Hormah. Hormah, in the original Hebrew means, devotion. It is such a contrast to what would happen next in the events described in Numbers 21. In the time of their trouble they cried out to God, made a vow to Him, and even went so far as to name the place of their victory, devotion. That devotion, however, was quickly forgotten.
And now here, in Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman was coming to Jesus. It was her ancestors that God had delivered into the hands of the Israelites many generations before. Although hundreds of years had past since the conflict, she was, in effect, coming to the enemy of her people. She was coming to her enemy. Her people had been so utterly destroyed by the Israelites that they never emerged again as a powerful force on the planet. They had been utterly destroyed and broken and the holy scriptures of the Israelites had recorded the utter defeat of the Canaanites. Their colossal defeat and their calloused attacks on the servants of God had caused the Israelites to label them as dogs. In fact, anyone outside of the Jewish ancestry without a distinct lineage to the Abrahamic covenant was, in the eyes of the Jewish people, a dog.
But here she was. This Canaanite woman with a need. Beyond anything any parent can imagine. Her daughter, full of promise and potential, was possessed by a demonic spirit that tormented the young girl daily. One can only imagine the pain and the trouble this caused the family, and especially her mother. I can imagine she spent many nights fearful for her daughter’s life. She must have shed many many tears hoping for a way that her daughter would be free of this terrible affliction. She recognized that there was something about her daughter’s affliction that was unnatural. She recognized that there was a supernatural element at work in her daughter’s life that she had no power over. She recognized her helplessness. She recognized the hopelessness. She had to do something or see her daughter die. But what could she do?
Only steps away from Him now she was about to approach the man whom much of the region had heard of. They had heard of the miraculous things that this man had done. How he had fed thousands, walked on water, open blind eyes, made the mute to talk, and the deaf to hear. Now He was here. And she was going to follow Him and beg Him to heal her daughter. She would not be denied. Imagine for a moment what may have been going through her mind. Her ancestors had cruelly imprisoned the Israelites and then were subsequently destroyed by these servants of the Most High God. Her mind must have been racing with a torrent of thoughts. ‘Nothing about my past is going to allow me or hinder me from coming to this man. My people may have done His people harm, but I know all of my hope rests in Him at this point. I have no other way. I have no other choice. My daughter will die unless He does something. Without Him I am hopeless ‘
Is there something like that in your life? Maybe you are struggling with something from the past that is keeping you from coming to Christ. You think that maybe this awful thing from your past is too horrible and God will never forgive you for it. Come to Him as you are. He sees you and He knows you.
This Canaanite woman was willing to come to Him as she was. If she was a dog in the eyes of the Jewish people then so be it. The religious people around you may condemn you and say ‘your past will never be worthwhile to God.’ They may say ‘You have done way too much to be of any use to the Kingdom of God.’
But this woman was not about to be stopped by anything! In her mind she probably thought ‘I might be a dog, but I know who the Master is. I know that whatever meal He prepares, as my Master, it is always good. In fact, whatever falls from my master’s table may not be good enough for the Pharisee or the religious folk, but I know — I know — it is good. I will not despise the crumbs from my Master’s table. If all I get are the crumbs from your table, then give me the crumbs from your table Lord.‘
The call has gone out for many to sit at the Masters table. Jesus said that the Pharisees all wanted the best seat in the house. But here was this woman who said, I will eat even of the crumbs from your table Master. She used the word Master meaning the Sovereign One. In effect she was saying, ‘these people may not know you the way I see you, and I may be hated by them and despised by them, but I recognize you Jesus for who you are. You are the King of Glory, You are the Sovereign One, You are the Creator of all things, You are the Holy One of God, You are my Saviour, You are my Lord, You are the Master! I know I am not worthy, nor do I possess the right to sit at your table. I know that I am a dog. I know that I am weak and lowly. I know that outside of you, I am lost and helpless. I know I am lower than all men. I come to you as a dog. I come to you in the lowest and humblest position possible. I willingly acknowledge my desperate situation. I don’t want the best seat in the house, because I don’t deserve it Lord. I don’t deserve anything from your table, because I have done nothing to deserve your goodness. But I will come to your table on my hands and knees and seek just a crumb from your table my Lord. I may be a dog, but I know that my Master will not let me starve. I know My Master will not let me go cold. I know that there is a seat at my Master’s feet where I will find crumbs from His plate.’
There is one thing about a dog that cannot be questioned — its loyalty and devotion to its master! A dog is loyal. A dog knows its master and submits to the master. At every supper meal with my family, our family dog will sit at our feet at the supper table, patiently waiting on us. Hoping for just a crumb to fall from the table.
I recently watched a movie with my wife that perfectly captured the loyalty of a dog. The dog was so loyal to its master that the dog would follow his master every day to the train that would whisk the master off to work. At the end of every day, that dog, upon hearing the train whistle in the distance, would rush off to the train station and wait patiently for his master to come off of the train. One day the master suffered a fatal heart attack while at work. Waiting at the train station for him that day was his dog. Sadly, his master never got off the train that day. Yet, from that time forward, whenever he would hear that familiar train whistle that dog would rush to the train station day after day. For nine years, until the day that dog died, he would run to meet the train and sit faithfully waiting for his master to return. We need to have the same type of determination, the same type of devotion, and the same type of loyalty that we will wait — no matter how long it takes and no matter the circumstances — for our Master, Jesus Christ, to return.
When you come to the Lord and realize the depraved and hopeless situation that you are in as a human being trapped in the snares of sin; when you truly understand the helpless and hopeless situation that enslaves and entraps you, and to know that your condition is of such an offense to a Holy and Righteous God, you can only come to Him like this Canaanite woman did — on your hands and knees begging for mercy. He alone has the power to release us, and our loved ones, from the deathly grip of the enemy. He is the Life in the midst of this dying wilderness.
When God sent the manna from heaven, the Israelites had to stoop down, bowed before God to gather this heavenly meal. Many probably were on their hands and knees. This is how we must come to Him, bowed humbly before His Presence realizing that what He has to offer us in this position is Life! Sadly, the Israelites became too proud to gather the bread in this fashion anymore, and many were destroyed for their rebellion. One day soon, many will be cast into an everlasting lake of fire for refusing to bow before God.
Jesus Christ is the manna from Heaven. He is the Bread of Life. He is the best that has come down from heaven. We must continue to bow humbly before Him and not despise “this light bread” like the children of Israel did. May the Lord open your eyes to His Holy and Righteous nature and show you the magnificent wonder of His Glory. Because in His Presence, no flesh can stand. Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is Master!
Press in Beloved, press in to His Presence.
©2010 His Beloved Remnant Ministries