Key verse: Matthew 15:28
Big Idea: Faith is the defining boundary of the people of God.
Matthew introduces us to a woman with a demon possessed daughter by describing her as a woman of Canaan. Canaanite was not a current term in Jesus' day, but was well known to the Jews as the old name for the pagan nations that the Israelites had expelled from the land. Matthew using this term to describe her, as Jesus was on the outskirts of Gentile territory, was clearly deliberately loaded language. The historic enemy of God's people was coming up and asking Jesus for help; how would He respond?
Jesus did not respond the way that we would expect. He ignored this woman's pleas. It must have seemed like a hard posture from this One who was so loving, but she persisted. The disciples came and asked Jesus to go ahead and heal her so she would go away., but He announced that it was not right to give the children's bread to the dogs. If silence was cold, this was seemingly cruel. How could Jesus - the lamb that takes away the sin of the world who had already healed a centurion's servant - treat her like this?
But still, she persisted, and said that even the dogs got the children's crumbs. She simultaneously expressed her own unworthiness and her confidence in Jesus' super abundant resources. Then, Jesus praised her for her faith and healed her daughter with a word. Jesus put her through a painful circumstance to draw out her faith, and when it had been revealed rewarded her dramatically. Although Jesus' ministry before his crucifixion was as the Messiah of Israel, He kept one eye on the greater plan to build a new people, not marked by food, clothes or ancestry but by faith.
Discussion idea: How does God use painful circumstances to shape us into the people He wants for us to be?
Prayer focus: Pray for us to see God's love, even when His hands are firm.