humor with depth

A Determined Mother

Syrophoenician Woman

Read Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30

Do you ever crave time to yourself? Do you ever get caught up in life and just need or crave some time to yourself? Or even better, a weekend retreat? “Time away from the everyday stress in order to renew your Spirit” Jesus was the same way! The more miracles he performed, the more people were talking about Jesus and the less time He had to get away and renew His spirits.

In Mark the Bible describes a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. This indicated that she was from the territory Northwest of Galilee where the cities of Tyre and Sidon were located. Matthew calls her a Cananite woman which the Jewish would have immediately understood the significance of Jesus helping this woman. In verse 22 of Matthew 15 a determined mother begs Jesus “Have mercy on me, my daughter is cruelly demon possessed.” When Jesus heard this, He was really trying to get away to refresh His spirits and at first He said nothing. It was His disciples that wanted Him to just send her away because she was really making a scene. You see, Jesus was really on a training mission with the Jewish people.

In Matthew 15:24 Jesus says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus was trying to train and teach the Jewish people so that they could then take the “good news” to all nations. But this determined mother needed Jesus desperately to help her daughter as she was demon possessed. Realizing she had heard the comment He had made about Jews to the disciples and that she was still not discouraged, He continued the thought with her. “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 their dogs” (Mark 7:27 NIV). Obviously, the “children” referred to the Jews; he was simply speaking in the ordinary parlance of the day. The Jews didn’t like the Gentiles, and the Gentiles didn’t like the Jews. He softened the phrase by using the Aramaic word for puppy and not the word for street dog. Nevertheless, He was implying that the salvation He offered was to Jews first and then eventually to the Gentiles. Basically Jesus was saying, “Your day will come.” This determined mother picked up on His choice of words, and used them to challenge Jesus. Mark 7:28 says, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She made a valid point. Jesus wasn’t shocked by her answer, in fact He loved it. This mother knew that Jesus had to the power to restore her daughter to full and complete health by casting out the demon that was possessing her.

In Matthew 15: 28 Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed [restored] at once. So when is it okay to speak up? The goal for this determined mother was to have her daughter restored. In order to do this she had to speak up and ask Jesus for healing. This determined mother had to be forceful. When you come across a situation that you are unsure about when it’s okay to speak up and speak out, you might ask yourself questions like these:

Can I express what I want to say in a way that will be respectful of the other person and of his or her position?

Can I do it with lightness or wit as the Syrophoenician woman did and not threaten the others in the group?

Do I have the right motive? Am I doing this out of love?

Will my response reflect my faith or encourage the faith of those I am questioning?

Will it give Jesus a wider avenue for exercising grace?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then take spirit of the Syrophoenician woman’s courage, and speak up and trust that Jesus will say, “Way to go! You are a woman of great faith? How do you approach Jesus? Are you confident or timid? What motivated her faith? Was her faith perfect? Is perfect faith necessary to having Jesus respond to us? Just because you think something, should you say it? When should restraint be exercised?

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