Our scripture this week is Matthew 15:21-28.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 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.” “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.

Jesus tells the Canaanite woman He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, which is true but not the end of the story. Was He really going to refuse her plea because of that? Why did He go to there if not to minister to the people?

In John 4 we hear of Jesus going to Samaria, a “pagan” region according to Jewish law. More than that, He spoke with a woman there and brought faith to her village. John 3:17 tells us “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”. Jesus came to Israel but He came for all.

We may not know why Jesus said this – to test her faith? to teach His disciples? – but we know that after this exchange He healed the woman’s daughter. This is the example He gives us, to go to the “unclean” places and discover that the people there are just like us.

Loving Lord, help us to see we are all the same, children of God, united by Your love. Make our faith strong and persistent like that of the Canaanite woman. Amen.

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