This is part of The Mark Challenge.
Let the children be fed first, because it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. Jesus, Mark 7:27
It’s one of the most bizarre interactions in the Gospel. Jesus is hiding from the crowds and finds himself in an out-of-the-way town of Tyre. His hiding didn’t last very long as he is interrupted by a Syrophoenician woman.
Here’s what we know about her. She’s a Gentile. She’s a mom. She’s smart. She’s quick-witted. She’s got a heart full of faith. And she’s got a sick daughter which changes everything.
How she knows about Jesus isn’t clear. It’s possible that the stories of the miracles of Jesus were traveling far and wide. It’s probable she knew the family of the house Jesus was hiding out in.
She’s desperate. Desperate for Jesus to heal her daughter. She has enough faith to seek out Jesus. To interrupt his life. To ask for healing. To not even demand that he go back home with her to do it.
And Jesus’ immediate response seems…rude. Calloused. Racist. ‘Dog’ is what the Jews typically called the Gentiles and it wasn’t a friendly term. Jesus uses a slightly different word – puppy – but it’s her response that gives us clue as to what is going on here.
Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.
Just give me a crumb, Jesus. Just give me a crumb! That’s all I need right here – a crumb.
What incredible faith! Jesus tells her as much when he tells her the demon has left your daughter. Here’s the kicker – she believes him. She took his word for it. She had no proof, there was no messenger running up to tell her that her daughter was well. She had no visible confirmation. All she had was the ‘crumb’ of Jesus’ word.
And it was enough.
Here’s what I think. I think Jesus knew exactly the kind of woman she was. I think she not only needed this kind of interaction but his disciples needed it as well. I think he knew that this small room of Jews needed to see this woman, not as a Gentile but as a person. And when she walked out of the house confident that Jesus had healed her daughter, it stood in stark contrast to another Jewish leader who demanded Jesus to show up and be physically present for the healing.
Don’t miss how Jesus loves boldness. He constantly asks his disciples to be bold and in this woman they get a glimpse of how they should be. of this woman. I think Jesus loves boldness in general. He It was the first of many lessons to stretch his followers into understanding that ALL people need Jesus and those who follow Christ ought to serve ALL people.