BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 16, Day 4: Matthew 15:21-28

Summary of passage:  Jesus leaves Gennesaret for Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman came and asked Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter.  At first, Jesus did not answer and she kept on crying out to him.  The disciples, annoyed, asked Jesus to send her away.  Jesus said he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.

The woman begged Jesus again to help her.  He replied that it’s not right to help her when he came to help the Jews.  He called her a dog (a derogatory name Jews called Gentiles).  Yet she said she wanted only the crumbs.  For her great faith in him, Jesus granted her request.

Questions:

9a)  Well, he had just insulted the Pharisees so he may have been hiding from them or leaving to decrease their wrath against him.  Commentaries I read said Jesus left Israel for this area specifically to heal this woman’s daughter.

[Note:  Nothing else is recorded in the Bible about what Jesus did here.  The very next scene Jesus is back at the Sea of Galilee.  Hence, it seems he traveled to Tyre specifically for this woman.]

b)  She called him “Lord, Son of David.”  The Canaanites are Gentiles, unbelievers in the Lord, enemies of the Jews since Abraham was called to Canaan.  This shows that she understood exactly who Jesus was.

10a)  He was explaining that he had come only for the Jewish people which we studied in Matthew 10:5-6 when Jesus told his disciples to go to the lost sheep of Israel and not the Gentiles.  Jesus came first to save God’s chosen people (the Jews).  The Gentiles would come later.

b)  She called him “Lord” again and she beseeched him to help her.  She probably knew Jesus had never turned anyone down who approached him with faith for healing, including Gentiles (Matthew 4:24-25; 8:5-13).  She appealed to his compassion and to who he was.  Thus, she was answered.

c)  We learn Jesus went to a house and wanted to keep his presence secret.  We learn the woman was a Greek who was born in Phoenicia.  Jesus says it’s not right to take the children’s (Jews) portion from them.  The woman just asked for the crumbs.  She goes home and her daughter is healed.  We can speculate that the woman was educated somewhat if she was Greek and that’s how she knows about Jesus.

11a)  She knew she wasn’t asking for a lot so she used that analogy.  She called herself a dog and the Jews her master.  She called him “Lord” again.  She admitted she was beneath him.  By her reply, we see her faith.  She responded with even more dedication and determination.  She kept knocking and thus she was rewarded for her persistence.

b)  The fact is was her daughter who was suffering and in need of healing.  Most parents will do a lot of courageous things to help their children.  So she had strong motivation to be courageous and to have faith for she probably knew if Jesus couldn’t help her, no one could.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Job losses.  Still praying for my book.

12a)  Her daughter was healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  She had faith in who Jesus was and she was rewarded for it.  The lesson is that we are rewarded for our faith as well.

Conclusions:  I had high hopes for this lesson because it’s the first time we see Jesus not responding immediately to a need.  We see him putting off the woman, testing her, telling her she is not Jewish and thus does not receive a portion of God’s grace.  Yet, we see the persistence of the woman and we see ourselves in her; we see our responsibility in being God’s children.  I just feel BSF didn’t drive this home enough.  Instead, we were sent to Hebrews (if you were here in Genesis, you know I constantly complained about the number of times we were sent to Hebrews and to these very same verses) and again asked about faith.  I would hope by now that it would be clear that Jesus healed based on faith of those whom he healed.  Can we move on now?

I’m not for sure how many of us wouldn’t have taken offense at the dog comment.  I know for me I am one to quickly take offense.  Yet the woman accepted it.  It might have been the times:  women were constantly berated and looked down upon so she was probably used to being compared to dogs and not challenging any authority who said so.  Yet in today’s time, it would be tough to accept it and still ask for more.  Quite the challenge and lesson for us today.

Map of Tyre and Sidon:  http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/image/Tyre-Sidon.jpg

Another Map of Tyre and Sidon but showing Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee) so you can see the distance Jesus traveled:  http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN175-HEALING.htm

Scroll down once to see the map.  Not my favorite but the best I could find.

Concise explanation of why God chose the Jews over the Gentiles found HERE.  To simplify this though, you need only remember that the Jewish people is/was God’s chosen people–chosen to receive the gospel and carry the good news to the rest of the world.  They will always be special (which most of us Gentiles don’t like to admit–human pride and jealousy as we desire to be special as well).  The Gentiles (every non-Jew today) are included in God’s kingdom, but He will always hold the Jewish people closest to His heart.  They have a special place in His redemptive plan.

End Notes:  Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities so why would Jesus go there?  The Phoenicians especially did not like Jews.  Jesus had a purpose.  It was this woman.  Jesus stops at nothing to achieve his purpose.  Do you?

Note the woman did not argue with Jesus or take offense at being compared to a dog.  She accepted it and pursued him until he took compassion on her.  Just as we should.

Fun Fact:  This is the only time in the Bible Jesus directly tells someone they have great faith (he told the crowd that the centurion had great faith; he never told the centurion directly like he does here).

Note also that the centurion and this woman were Gentiles–those who would not know Jewish law.  Hence, they indeed had great faith to believe in Jesus!  Again, another example of how God’s salvation is for Gentiles as well and how much He values us.

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