In today's study from Matthew 15:21-39, we review the healing of the Canaanite women, the issue of faith, and the lesson learned from the feeding of the four thousand.
A Gentile’s Request
vv.21-22 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.
Lest we overlook it in the text, our Lord walked some fifty miles from Galilee to the area of Tyre and Sidon to encounter this woman. It was not an accident. These were Gentile cities. It was a divine appointment. No such thing as coincidences, my friend.
On another note, it is interesting that at the same time this woman is proclaiming exactly who Jesus is, his own countrymen are plotting his demise.
Jesus Healed Her Daughter
vv.23-28 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.
Jesus is not being cold or rude toward this woman. He is merely stating his purpose. The term “dog” in v.26, while it was a slur towards the Gentiles; Jesus used it as a term of endearment by saying, “little dogs” (NKJV).
However, bear in mind, that Jesus did walk fifty miles to heal this woman’s daughter. I believe he purposely used this to show that the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” were in the process of rejecting him while the “dogs” were not. We read no other reason than this as to why Jesus went to this area. It can be said that he simply had a divine appointment with this woman and used it to make a point.
vv.29-31 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. (30) And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: (31) Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
It’s interesting that while faith was mentioned in the healing of the Gentile women in the previous verses, it is not in these healings. As a matter of fact, the faith appears to be more on the part of those who brought them. Point being, Jesus can do anything that he wants to without any preconceived “formula”. But like all healings should be, they glorified God as a result. I believe that all that God does ultimately is to bring glory to himself and not the recipients. Pastor Chuck Smith used to say that when we began taking bows, God removes Himself from the situation.
The Feeding of the 4000
vv.32-39 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. (33) And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? (34) And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. (35) And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. (36) And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. (37) And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. (38) And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. (39) And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
This miracle, though separate, is essentially the same as the feeding of the 5000 in the previous chapter. John Bonner was the first to point out to me that the disciples not only gave but also received. Cf. 14:20 and 15:37 The point is that God wants to minister as much to us as He does to them that we minister to. Another point to be made is that we cannot out give God!