“Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.”
Matthew 15:28, (context, vv. 21-28)
Negotiating with God is not for the timid. It takes spiritual guts, and very few do it right. This chapter begins with a strong teaching on Jewish tradition and moral purity. The scribes and the Pharisee’s have cornered the market on social and religious correctness, and they have a solid grip on the Jewish faith. You must do what they say.
Suddenly there’s a noisy commotion, up jumps a Gentile woman who is terribly loud and terribly desperate, she’s caught somewhere between rudeness and hysteria. She has a disturbing need for her daughter to be released from a demon’s control–there’s a satanic oppression that wants to destroy her. Only Jesus can stop it.
The Judaism of Jesus’ day was not doing its job. Israel was meant to be a “light to the Gentiles,” and a source of healing and truth to the nations of the earth. Clearly it had become confused–its traditions and ceremonies that had nothing to do with the salvation of the world.
Perhaps the failure of the Jewish people to reach the world parallels the failure of the Church to carry out Jesus’ Great Commission? Religion has always stood in the way of God’s heart and His plan to bring salvation to everyone. I think this is the main reason Jesus hated it so.
This woman has a need that only Jesus could meet. She embarrasses herself insisting that Jesus take action. She seems almost rude to the point of being obnoxious. She is repeatedly told to be quiet, that her daughter’s deliverance was not in the plan of God. But that’s an answer she will not accept.
How honest are my conversations with God? Do I say what I really think? Do I intercede for others?
This is one of more unsettling verses in the New Testament–at least for me anyway. Everyone in this passage seems somewhat rude, even a bit boorish to me–even Jesus seems off, which really does unsettle me. There’s a stilted awkwardness in this passage that makes me want to apologize about Jesus’ attitude to all my unbelieving friends. I just don’t get all the national, racial, and social issues that are involved here.
An addendum though: Not every scripture is ever grasped once, and for all time understood. I’ve learned there are verses that reveal their layers years later. Onion-like. I think that this is probably true–for me anyway. The same verse will speak to me over and over again.