""The Faith of a Canaanite Woman"-Matthew 15:21-28

Sunday December 16, 2018

Matthew 15:21-28

What I Practice: Today’s Competency

Kindness/Goodness – I choose to do the right things in my relationships with others. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

The English words "kindness" or "goodness" are found in 75 verses of the NIV; the words "be kind" or "do good" appear in another 33 verses. In some places in the Old Testament "showing kindness" amounts to "showing favor"; in others it entails "helping" or "doing something good for" someone.  In the New Testament "love," "kindness," and "doing good" are closely related. Luke 6:35 is an especially helpful passage in this regard. Jesus said, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." In the New Testament as in the Old, kindness entails "doing something good for" someone rather than "doing something evil". It includes being "compassionate" and "forgiving", but excludes "quarreling" (2Tim. 2:24), whereas "goodness" refers to a character quality (Rom. 15:14; 2 Pe 1:5).

Scripture: Scripture: Matthew 15:21-28

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

The Message of this Passage:  

    In today’s passage we see Jesus journeying west toward the region of Tyre and Sidon. In verse 22 we read that a Gentile woman, a woman of Canaan, came to meet Him. Desperate, she was crying out for His help, addressing Him as Lord, and as Son of David. But Jesus ignored her, and consequently she kept crying after His disciples. They were so perturbed that they urged Jesus to send her away. But He answered in a manner expressing the exclusiveness of the Jewish leaders with whom He had just recently been in conversation—“I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The scene changed when the woman came and worshiped Jesus, making her entreaty. There are four interacting scenes in the account: (1) her request, (2) His rejection, (3) her reaction, and (4) His response. Jesus expressed the common Jewish attitude toward Gentiles, saying, “It is not good to throw the children’s bread to the little dogs.” She responded by saying in essence, “Yes, Master, what you say is true, but the little dogs still eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Even if she was not privileged to sit at Messiah’s table, she would be satisfied with the crumbs! Jesus responded, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed. Her faith that moved beyond ethnic and cultural obstacles, bypassed the forms of ritual religion, and humbly confessed the Master’s lordship, received His grace. Taken from M.S Augsburger, commentary on Matthew (Vol. 24, p. 18).


Answering Interpretive Questions:

  • What do you see in this story that is shocking or a surprise to you?

  • What other information do we get from this story in Mark 7:24-30?

  • Why do you think Jesus did not initially answer her, in verse 23?

  • She calls Him “Lord, Son of David.” Why is this surprising? What does this tell us about the woman?

  • Who does the woman represent? Ephesians 2:8, Mark 7:29-30.

  • After being ignored by Jesus, what was significant about the woman’s response?

  • What moved Jesus to grant the Canaanite woman’s request?

  • What does this story teach us about faith?

  • How does she understand the Messiah’s ultimate concern is for all peoples, including her?

  • Why does Jesus attribute to the woman “great faith”? Why do you think Jesus finally granted her request after refusing her three times?

The world sees committed Christians and churches, but very little activity that can only be explained in terms of God.


Grant SchweisthalMatthew