Miracle 21:
                                           Delivering the Syrophoenician's Daughter
                                                

I. OBSERVATION

A.     Passage Selected: Matt. 15:21-28

 

Matthew 15:21-28

 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 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.

 

B. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context

a.       Jesus He wanted to be alone, but couldn’t escape the crowds and people in need so He goes to Tyre. This is the first and only time He left Israel during his ministry.

b.       This is interesting because He came to Israel as her King. When He sent His disciples out, He instructed them to go into the cities of Israel but not beyond her boundaries.

c.       Then the Lord was rejected by Israel, and there arose conflict. The breaking point between Jesus and the religious rulers came only a few verses ago. What happens?

d.       Jesus Himself steps over the boundaries of Israel and lays down another great principle. He will now receive the Gentiles. His invitation is, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [lit., “rest you”]” (Matt. 11:28).[1]

e.       The discussion on kosher food and defilement in the previous context is very related to our story.  The importance of these things was that they made Israel separate from the rest of the world.  But Jesus is going to do away with some of these distinctives.  In Jn 4, with the woman at the well, Jesus foretells the doing away with worship in Jerusalem.  Here we have a removing of the dietary laws.

f.         This miracle is a hinge to show the movement from the Jews to the Gentiles.

g.       She has everything going against her.  She is a Gentile woman - a Canaanite woman - with a demon-possessed daughter. There are many barriers - racial, social, cultural, and spiritual.

2. Content

a. The plea of the woman  15:21-22

1.                   “Lord, Son of David...”  She is coming with understanding of who He really is.  This is very impressive. But Jesus doesn’t answer her.  Why not? 

2.                   I think He is leading her along to develop the understanding of the disciples.  He is setting up what is going to happen. He will respond to her later.

3.                   The Syrophoenician woman was a mixture of several races and a true Gentile (see Mark 7:26 for her nationality). She had no claim on Jesus as the Son of David, and when she addressed Him as such, He answered her not a word.

b. The pride of the disciples 15:23

1.       The disciples were annoyed.  Over and over again we see their great pastoral hearts.  She is persistent.

2.       The disciples said, “Send her away, for she crieth after us.” She was causing a disturbance and probably a little embarrassment.[2]

 

c. The place of the woman  15:24

Jesus was sent only to minister to Israel.  Rom 15:8  He came to make a legitimate      offer of the kingdom to Israel.

d. The persistence of the woman  15:25-27
(1) Her reverence

         She has understanding and faith. (vs 25)

(2) His rejection

a.         When she addressed Him as the Son of David, He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She as a Gentile had no claim upon Him as the Son of David. However, now she comes and worships Him, calling Him “Lord”, and asks for help. Now she will get help, as we shall see. [3]

 

But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs [Matt. 15:26].

b.         That is a very strong statement! Such a rebuff would have driven many of us away. We would have turned on our heels and said, “You can’t talk to us like that!”[4]

c.         This seems to be a harsh statement, but it was a statement of fact. Jesus was offering Himself first as the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the coming of the King in David’s line. He was forcing this gentile woman to recognize that fact.

d.         Jesus came as King of the Jews. You mark that down—it was the primary issue that had to be settled. He died with this superscription written over Him on the Cross: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

 (3) Her response

a.       She responds with amazing understanding and faith.  She is asking if Jewish failure can’s result in Gentile blessing.  Can’t Gentiles have what Jews reject.

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table [Matt. 15:27].

b.       You remember that our Lord told of a poor man who ate of the crumbs that fell from a rich man’s table, and the dogs came and licked his sores. The Israelites used the word dog in reference to the Gentiles. This woman was willing to bear that reproach because she believed in the Lord Jesus.[5]

c.       Now listen to this gentile woman—[6] Who were the children?  Who were the dogs?  Is this politically incorrect language?  Gentiles were dogs to the Jews.  This argues for authenticity of the scriptures because it would be tempting to tone down Jesus’ seemingly cruel words here.

d.       She reveals what God is doing in the world.  Israel’s failure will result in Gentile blessing.  Rom 9-11.  He fed 5000 Jews, now he will go feed 4000 Gentiles.  There are no more restrictions on the basis of food.  Peter didn’t learn this till Acts 10.  Jesus doesn’t call Gentiles “dogs” anymore because they are no longer outsiders. Matt 8:, Luke 7:, John 4:, Matt 16:21f. 

e.       All miracles of healing of Gentiles.  All done from a distance.  Gentiles were viewed as far away and Jews as being near.  There may be some significance to this.

e. The power shown to the woman  15:28
(1) Jesus hails her faith

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith

Our Lord really marveled at the faith of this gentile woman. He had said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden—I’ll help you; I’ll lift your burden,” and that is what He did even for a Canaanite. Her answer had revealed a great faith, and to that our Lord responded.[7]

 

(2) Jesus heals her daughter

 be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour [Matt. 15:28].

 

II. INTERPRETATION

·         Israel has rejected the provision of Christ, which is now becoming available more openly to the Gentiles. Salvation is still of the Jews, but it is now available to Gentiles. How could God bring such good out of such rejection?  God causes all things to work together for good.

III. APPLICATIONS

·         Faith is the great equalizer of cultural and personal backgrounds.

·         Spiritual insight leads to spiritual blessing.

·         Rejection of privileged responsibility may bring replacement in God’s service. (a few of the parables show this also.)

·         We do have the privilege of bringing our troubles to God.

·         There is a place for well grounded boldness in the Lord.  She doesn’t quit.  He wants me to be bold in coming.

·         She is bold, but not proud. She is humble and understands she is a “dog.”  She didn’t say, “Can’t you have other children?”  We as Gentiles can’t afford to get cocky. Rom 11 says that if the wild branches that get grafted in get cocky, they will be cut out. 

·         Success in prayer comes from a humble approach.

·         Beware of a lack of compassion (disciples’ model)

·         There are a lot of “little people” who know a lot of theology and live it.


 



[1]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[2]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[3]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[4]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[5]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[6]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[7]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.