“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28)
What we have in Matthew 15:21-18 is, at first glance, an unsettling picture of Jesus.
Here’s the scene: a Gentile woman, whose daughter is possessed by a demon, seeks out Jesus. She knows full-well Jesus will recognize her as being from a nation given to pagan tradition and worship of idols – the region of Tyre & Sidon. But, still, she is desperate. She’s heard of this “Jewish miracle worker”, and has mustered enough courage to approach Jesus and beg Him for mercy. When she sees Jesus, she blocks his path, kneeling right in front of him.
But here’s where things get confusing and downright weird.
Jesus – the “God so loved the world” Jesus – looked at her and said….nothing — nothing! Matthew doesn’t record how long the silence lasted. But, no doubt, it seemed like eternity to the woman. The early church father, Chrysostom, wrote of this moment, “The Word has no word. The Fountain is sealed. The Physician holds back His remedy.”
But, this woman’s not giving up. She kept begging – and a lot of good that did. Because when Jesus does finally speak to her He said (get ready for this), “I was sent to help the people of Israel – not the Gentiles….It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to dogs.”
Now, before you begin thinking anything unbiblical about Jesus Christ, let’s pan out and see the bigger picture of all that’s going on in this scene.
Pastor/author, John MacArthur, explains: “The disciples, who were watching this entire ordeal, must have been wondering why Jesus so willingly healed the servant of the Roman centurion and showed compassion to the Samaritan woman at the well but now refused to help this woman.” (Here’s why.) MacArthur continues: “Jesus had had enough of superficiality and shallowness, of the pretended faith of those who selfishly got what they wanted from Him and left.”
MacArthur sums up – and this is huge: “Jesus put up the barriers not to keep her away but to draw her closer. He also used the occasion to show the disciples the value of persistent faith. After putting up a barrier of silence and then a double barrier of seeming rejection, Jesus heard what He wanted to hear. The desperate mother’s seeking heart would not give up. Like Abraham, she grew strong through the testing of her faith. And, as a result, Jesus granted her request that her little child be delivered from the demon, and her daughter was healed immediately.”
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick