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g) The Phoenician Woman’s Great Faith Shown by her Humility
(Matthew 15:21-28)
21Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”23But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”24But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”25Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”26But He answered and said, “it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”27And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”28Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew8:10,13;10:5-6, Mark7:24-30, Romans15:8)

After Christ reproached the leaders of the Jews for abrogating God’s commandment with their traditions and for cheating themselves, they flared up with rage. They instigated the rulers of the synagogues and the people against Jesus, to reject Him, spy on Him, and deliver Him to destruction. The multitudes that had already eaten the wonderful bread of the grace of Christ turned gradually away from Him from fear of their leaders. They abandoned Christ and their hatred was inflamed.
We have here that famous story of Christ’s casting the devil out of the daughter of the Canaanite woman. Surprisingly it looks favorably upon poor Gentiles. It is a gift of the mercy that Christ had in store for them. He was a light of revelation to the Gentiles (Luke 2:32), who “came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
He that deliberately turns away from Christ will find that he has no part in Him. Jesus went to the sinners in Lebanon and left His nation in their idolatry. The Phoenicians began to believe in Him, while His own nation rejected Him. An uneducated countrywoman came in faith and threw herself at Jesus’ feet and asked Him to heal her severely demon-possessed daughter. He did not say a word to her. The disciples considered the woman’s call for help as an annoyance, so they urged their Lord to get rid of her by sending her away.
The torments of children are a trouble to parents, and nothing should be more so than their being under the power of Satan. Tender parents sensibly feel the miseries of their own flesh and blood. “Though vexed with the devil, she is my daughter still.” The greatest afflictions of our relatives do not dissolve our obligations to them and therefore ought not to alienate our affections for them. It was the distress and trouble of her family that brought her to Christ.
Christ made clear to them the commandment of His heavenly Father; He was sent first to His lost people, the Jews, to save them from their sins.
But the woman did not stop crying and did not leave Him, because He was her last hope. She threw herself down before Him, blocking His way and obliged Him to listen to her plea to heal her daughter. This indicates that she believed in Christ’s supernatural power. This faith evoked a response from Christ who had mercy on her. He purified her faith, leading her to the knowledge of Himself through this severe test. The things of God were first for the people of God, those who followed the teaching of Moses. The things belonging to the children of the house were not meant for dogs! But she says that even the puppies can eat the scraps that fall from the table. Surely there was something for her! God’s word alone enlightens people, purifies the heart, and changes the mind.
Those whom Christ intends to honor, He first humbles. We must first see ourselves to be unworthy of God’s mercies before we are fit to be dignified and privileged with them. Christ allows us to be tested so our faith will be proved, so that like Job of old we can come forth after the trial of faith, purified like gold.
The woman accepted the lowly title of dog, for it was spoken with love and truth, rightly indicating the state of all men. The believing woman overcame Christ’s seeming reluctance in healing her daughter. He first delivered her soul from pride and then healed her daughter. Be humble like this Phoenician woman, and consider yourself a sinner before God, then you will come to the knowledge of the truth and seek cleansing.
After this woman passed the divine test by humbling herself and remaining steadfast in faith, Jesus honored her greatly, for she was the first-fruits of the Gentiles. He described her faith as “great faith” that could move mountains and obtain healing.
We learn from the Phoenician lady to continue in praying for the demon-possessed. The mother, in the fullness of her love for her daughter, had sacrificed her honor and pride and received from Christ by her persistence. She took hold of Christ, and did not leave Him until her daughter had been cured. Her belief, love and hope urged Christ to respond to her need. This is the clear evidence that the prayer for our friends and relatives will be answered if we persist.
Some argue that there is a contradiction between Matthew and Mark. Matthew says that the woman was Canaanite, whereas Mark says she was a Gentile and designates her as Syro-Phoenician in citizenship.
We reply that the land that included Tyre and Sidon was in the possession of the Canaanites, and called Canaan. The Phoenicians were descended from the Canaanites. The country, including Tyre, was called Phoenicia, or Syro-Phoenicia. It was taken by the Greeks under Alexander the Great and included those cities. In the time of Christ, they were Greek cities. This woman was therefore a Gentile, living under the Greek government, and probably speaking the Greek language. She was by birth a Syro-Phoenician, born in that country, and descended from the ancient Canaanites.

Just, Merciful Lord, I confess my pride that hinders Your salvation from coming to my people. Deliver me from selfishness that I may know my impurities. I am not perfect, so cure me of my malice that I may serve You with abiding faith, that my friends will be saved. Give me faith to continue in prayer until You have saved them.
How could Jesus liken the Gentiles to dogs?