How important is “faith”? In almost all of the healings that Jesus performed and in His answering of request and answering of prayers……..faith is the common denominator! These next verses detail an encounter that Jesus had with a Gentile (pagan) woman may seem harsh to you. However, as we look closely and focus, I see something different. I see a Gentile woman with faith and humility…..more faith and more humility than many of the Jews, Jesus’ own “people”, that the Bible tells us Jesus was to minister to first.
Mark 7:26-30 (TNIV)
26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Here are a couple of background things that will help understand the scene here as well as Jesus’ words.
First, this woman was not a believer in God, she was a pagan. Yes, she had obviously heard of Jesus.
Second, in the parable that Jesus uses to reply to her request of Him to drive out the demon from her daughter, Jesus uses one of two words available for “dogs”. This is significant. The Greek word “kynarion” has a meaning of domesticated pet dog while the Greek word “kyon” has a meaning of wild scavenger dog. Jesus uses the word “kynarion”. He is saying that it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the pets. In other words, it is first important that the children eat, then the dogs. This leaves also the responsibility to care for and feed the family pet, it only distinguishes the priority.
It is important to understand that God set’s the priority in Scripture of spreading the Gospel FIRST to the Jews, the people that God chose to carry His message of redemption into the world…..then to the Gentiles, or pagans. This makes perfect sense by the way, because the Jews (and Jesus was a Jew, hello), had been prepared by God to carry this message. However, I believe that they twisted God’s intention and considered themselves chosen as in “special and EXCLUSIVE”….that is where they stumbled and we must be careful as followers of Jesus never to stumble there also! Throughout Scripture, old and new Testaments, God makes it clear that redemption is for ALL people.
OKAY…….now to the real MEAT of this situation and this parable: This woman, a pagan Gentile……HAS FAITH and exhibits humility! She answers Jesus humbly and squarely with her faith and says that the children indeed drop crumbs to feed their beloved pets! In other words, though Jesus first priority is to his own people, and the Gentiles are His second priority, she has faith that Jesus will provide the crumb of this request for prayer….that he will heal her daughter! And……INDEED HE DOES!
We can learn from this…..Jesus INDEED really wants to answer our prayers. Go to Him in faith, optimism, humility, love and friendship.In Jesus….there is hope for all of us!