A Canaanite woman appealed to our Lord to heal her daughter. The child was possessed of a demon, an unclean spirit, and was suffering greatly. The mother cried to the Lord for help. But on this occasion, our Lord acted very differently from his custom. Although usually prompt to sympathize and to heal, Jesus paid no attention to the woman.
The woman continued to press her pleas. Finally, our Lord did respond by explaining that his miracles and services were not intended for the world in general but only for God’s covenanted people, the Jews. “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) He further elaborated, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs,” Matthew 25:26 (NKJV).
Jesus followed the Jewish custom of the time, of speaking of the Gentiles as dogs. However, instead of using the word for wild, brutish dogs, he said she was like a little pet dog or puppy. The woman was not offended. She exhibited strong faith, and reasoned that even little pet dogs got some of the scraps from the family table. She was urging that even outsiders might receive the Lord’s favors without working disadvantage to the Jews.
Such an exhibit of faith pleased the Lord. He lovingly responded, “‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour,” Matthew 15:28 (NKJV). The mother’s faith was strong in its perseverance and humility. She honored our Lord’s teaching, but also believed in Jesus’ mercy. Her faith was strong enough to overcome the great obstacle of our Lord’s apparent repulsion. We would consider this woman’s conduct to be in every sense of the word a pattern for the Lord’s people.