Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #135

#135 "Just A Crumb"
February 19, 2008
"Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."  Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."  He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.  He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."  Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour." (Matthew 15: 21-28)


If you've known me for much longer than a minute you know that I absolutely LOVE God's Word. More than just words on a page of history, I believe that the Bible is God-breathed. Words straight from His mouth to my heart. I especially love the accounts of the great women of the faith. Rahab, Ruth and Naomi, Deborah, Abigail and the like. Reading about Esther and King Xerxes draws me in more than any modern day love story. Mary Magdalene reminds me that I can be healed of every demon that would control me. Martha and her sister Mary show me that I need balance in my life. 


Today I am captivated by a woman whose name I do not know. I am intrigued by her story. She is from Canaan (Matthew 15: 21-28) or Syrophoenicia, part of the province of Syria. (Mark 7:24-30). She's not a Martha or a Mary, a Ruth, a Jezebel or a Bathsheba, popular names that bring to mind specific stories. She is unnamed and identified only by where she comes from. Have you ever been there? Labeled only by where you've been?


Maybe we're not given her name so that we can more easily focus on her condition. We are all in a condition at one time or another. This woman was desperate. Her mother's heart was breaking over her little daughter. The Bible tells us that the girl was demon-possessed and suffering terribly. By looking at other accounts of demon-possession in the Bible, we can assume that this young girl would be seized by a demon and would be thrown to the ground, foam at the mouth, become rigid and exhibit violent behavior, much like an epileptic seizure in our day. And our woman was helpless to do anything about it. All she could do was watch and be filled with anguish. She felt powerless, with no where to turn. Can anybody identify with that today?


What was there about her that earned her a place in the Bible? What was there about her that warranted her receiving an answer to her prayer? First of all, she was persistent. Mark's account says that she begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter's body. The word used there for "begged", meant to ask earnestly, to continue asking. She persisted even when Jesus didn't answer her. She had probably become quite annoying with her pleading because the disciples told Jesus to send her away, "for she keeps crying out after us". Don't ever let anyone keep you from Jesus. They'll tell you to give it up. They'll tell you it's hopeless. They'll tell you it doesn't make any sense to trust Jesus for your answer. She probably entreated her false, foreign gods to no avail. But she heard about a Man. A Man who was healing the sick and driving out demons. She didn't know all of the theology, but she knew that in Him there was some inkling of hope for her little girl. And she wouldn't be deterred. Not even when it seemed that Jesus was telling her No!


Not only was she persistent ...she was humble. In Mark we find that she fell at the feet of Christ. She knew that He was able and she was not. She knew that He had the power to save and her only hope was in Him. Her Greek idols had let her down. No doctor could help. No ones good advice could stop the terrifying condition that gripped her little girl. She fell at His feet. I've dropped to my knees and to the floor many times. Often because my legs wouldn't hold me anymore and in humble submission I hit the floor to demonstrate my absolute dependence on the Lord's help. I have fallen at His feet and pleaded that those I love would be able to escape the trap of the devil, who at one time or another had taken them captive to do his will (see 2 Timothy 2: 26). Like Jacob I have held on so tightly and refused to let go until He blessed me. (see Genesis 32: 22-32)


Then Jesus says the most amazing thing. "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Was He calling her a dog? Before we start to think that Jesus was being mean to her, we must understand that He was not referring to the wild, scavenger dogs who roamed the city. He used the word, "kunarion" which was a little dog or a puppy. Jesus was picturing a family sitting down at mealtime around the table. The food was provided by the head of the household. This woman was not a part of the family (Israel) because she was Greek. She wasn't allowed the best of the food. But she saw herself as a little dog or a puppy, under the table, eligible for the crumbs that might fall. She just wanted some of the blessings. Everything belonged to the master...even the puppy under the table. Because of this, she took no offense.


She would not take no for an answer. If she could have just a crumb, her daughter would be healed. She went unnamed. She was an outsider. She was like a puppy under the master's table. She was not part of the in-crowd. But her faith told her that there was enough blessing in this Man for her. Her faith told her to never give up. Her faith told her that He was the answer to her prayer and her daughter's deliverance. And that faith is what got her prayer answered.


You may feel nameless and faceless in a crowd of insiders today. People may identify you with your past. People may identify you with your condition. You may be powerless and hopeless in a seemingly hopeless situation. Remember that just a crumb from the Master's table is sufficient for the answer to your prayer. No matter where you have come from or what you've done, you belong to the Master, Christ. Throw yourself at His feet. Be persistent. Don't ever give up. Don't take offense even if it seems that He is telling you No! This account tells me that He loves that kind of faith! And even if your name never appears in the annals of something important...be certain that your Savior knows your name and you are so important to Him.


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