“And Jesus went away from there … And behold, a Canaanite woman … was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ 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.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And He answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, “’Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:21a, 22-28 ESV) Jesus is acting really weird in this story, isn’t He? When did He ever ignore someone in need—let alone insult them? He’s not like that, and the disciples knew it. They should have smelt a rat. Jesus is clearly up to something.
But no, they’re just so pleased that He’s finally behaving the way they think a good rabbi should! They miss the test.
What should they have done? Well, they could have said, “Please help her, there’s a child involved.” They could have even said, “Lord, if You do what she wants, she’ll stop bugging us and go away.” But no. “Send her away.”
And so Jesus gave up—for the moment—and went back to His usual kindness and mercy. He praises the woman and heals her child. He will heal His disciples’ stony hearts too—at the cost of His own life. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus will make them—and us!—like Him.
Prayer: Lord, make my heart like Yours. Amen.
* Who do you have trouble loving?
* How is Jesus helping you in this area?
* What small thing could you do to help someone you don’t naturally appreciate?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on March 6, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights