It’s certainly no coincidence that so many of the encounters with Jesus recorded in the gospels centre around someone’s need for healing. Jesus responds with compassion to these presenting needs, but he also recognised, in many instances, a deeper, underlying need. The paralysed man, lowered by his friends through the roof to Jesus below, had an obvious need. Jesus’ first words to him were, “Son, your sins are forgiven”. Mark 2:5b. Only then did he speak the words that saw him take his mat and walk out the door, fully healed.
Our first reading of Jesus’ encounter with a Canaanite woman whose daughter was suffering from demon possession may disturb us. Jesus seems out of character. Where is the compassion we’ve come to expect? When the disciples came to him with her urgent plea for mercy, he seems dismissive: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Matthew 15:24 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 the dogs.” vss. 25, 26
We’re a bit shocked! And disappointed. This is not what we expected. God has sent Jesus to establish his Kingdom amongst the “lost sheep of Israel”. Could he not make an exception in this instance? Could he not extend mercy to a desperate gentile woman? She was not about to give up easily. “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. vss. 27, 28
Added to this woman’s great faith we see great humility. She acknowledges she has no right to sit at the table; she will be satisfied with the scraps that fall from it. Love for her daughter, confidence in Jesus’ ability to overcome demons and persistence with her cause ultimately see her daughter released from a terrible affliction.
Her daughter has been healed. Her faith has been tested, proven and – we can safely assume – increased. God’s kingdom to has been increased, from a most unlikely source, outside the immediate focus of Jesus’ ministry. Everyone was a winner that day! We may not fully understand all the dynamics at play in this little drama. But we can’t miss the significance of humility in it all. Grace is God’s gift, totally undeserved and administered solely at his discretion. How often does pride keep people separated from God?
How often does pride keep people of faith from experiencing God’s best?
“You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:2b
PRAYER: Teach us, Father, to couple humility with our faith. Forgive us for thinking we’re entitled to anything from you; guard us against any sense of self-righteousness. Teach us to ask, by faith, and to accept the answers you give us. Amen
SONG: I am Carried by Yvette Proctor – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCCfd7EnHsA