Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon Not to those cities which were to have no share in his mighty works, Matthew 11:21-22; but into that part of the land of Israel which bordered on their coast. And behold a woman of Canaan Or, a Syrophœnician, as she is called, Mark 7:26; Canaan being also called Syrophœnicia, as lying between Syria, properly so called, and Phœnicia, by the sea-side. Came, and cried unto him From afar; Have mercy on me, thou son of David Consider my distressed case, and extend thy compassion to me, though a stranger. By addressing him as the son of David, she shows she had some knowledge of the promised Messiah, and that she believed Jesus to be that divine person. But he answered her not a word He did not seem to regard her, intending that the greatness of her faith should be manifested: an end highly worthy of the wisdom of Jesus; because it not only justified his conduct in working a miracle for a heathen, but was a sharp rebuke to the Jews for their infidelity. Our Lord often tries the faith of his followers in a similar way. His disciples besought him, saying, Send her away The disciples, being ignorant of our Lord’s design, were uneasy at the woman’s importunity, thinking, if she were permitted to follow them, that they would soon be discovered. Desiring, therefore, to get rid of her, they entreat their Master to dismiss her as he was wont to dismiss such petitioners, namely, with the grant of her request. But he answered, I am not sent Not primarily; not yet; but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel By the lost sheep of Israel we are to understand the whole nation of the Jews, who, being as sheep dispersed, and having no shepherd, are therefore called lost sheep. To them the Messiah was first promised; to them he came; and to them his personal ministry was to be almost wholly confined: and hence he is styled a minister of the circumcision, Romans 15:8. Thus at the first Jesus seemed both to refuse this woman’s request, and the intercession of the disciples in her behalf. She, however, far from being discouraged by the repulse, drew near and worshipped him That is, fell on her knees before him; saying, Lord, help me Her necessity and distress were great, and she was unwilling to take a denial. But he said What was still more discouraging, and seemed to cut her off from all hope, and would, doubtless, have driven her to despair, if she had not had very strong faith indeed; It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs “The Jews gloried greatly in the honourable title of God’s children, because of all nations they alone knew and worshipped the true God. They gave the name of dogs to the heathen for their idolatry and other pollutions, by which they had degraded themselves from the rank of reasonable creatures: this appellation, therefore, marked the impurity of the Gentiles, and their odiousness in the sight of God; at the same time conveying an idea of the contempt in which they were held by the holy nation. But though, in some respects, it was applicable, it must have been very offensive to the heathen. Nevertheless, this woman neither refused it, nor grudged the Jews the honourable title of children. She acknowledged the justness of what Christ said, and by a strong exercise of faith drew an argument from it, which the candour and benevolence of his disposition could not resist.” She said, Truth, Lord It would not be fit to put the dogs and the children on a level; Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs, &c. “Let me have such kindness as the dogs of any family enjoy: from the plenty of miraculous cures which thou bestowest on the Jews, drop the offal of this one to me who am a poor distressed heathen; for by it they will suffer no greater loss than do the children of a family by the crumbs which are cast to the dogs.” Macknight. Then Jesus answered, O woman, great is thy faith There were several other graces that shone bright in her; wisdom, humility, meekness, patience, perseverance in prayer, but these were the product of her faith, and therefore Christ particularly commends that: because of all graces faith honours Christ most, therefore of all graces Christ honours faith most. This woman’s faith was great indeed, considering that she had no promise to rely on, and had suffered so many repulses, joined with such seeming contempt, and yet still she retained a confidence in the mercy, kindness, and power of Jesus. Be it unto thee even as thou wilt Thy request is granted in all its extent. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour Thus the mother’s faith prevailed for the daughter’s cure, and the patient’s being at a distance was no hinderance to the efficacy of Christ’s word, He spake, and it was done. We learn two important lessons from the success which the suit of this Canaanitish woman met with: 1st, that God is no respecter of persons, but always accepts sincere faith and fervent prayer, proceeding from an humble, penitent heart. 2d, That it is our duty to continue in prayer with earnestness, although the answer thereof should be long deferred.
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