Since [the woman who asked Jesus to cast the evil spirit out of her daughter] was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, Jesus told her, "First I should feed the children — my own family, the Jews. It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs."
She replied, "That's true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children's plates."
— Mark 7:26-28 NLT
Wow! Think how this exchange would come off in our world with its racial tensions and political correctness. Now increase that multiple times, and you might get the impact of this exchange in Jesus' time with the extreme racial and religious tension between Jews and Gentiles. Even though Jesus' statement about dogs might seem insensitive, he was undoubtedly testing this woman's faith, and the original language uses a word play that we don't see in English. This Phoenician woman may have known that Samaritans were considered dogs by many Jews of Jesus' day. However, Jesus used a diminutive form of the word for "dogs," thereby softening the meaning and communicating to her he was talking about a beloved house dog or puppy. Still, she would not let anything keep her from her goal; nothing would deter her. She picked up on Jesus' word play and responded also using the diminutive, showing she understood. Her answer showed she believed the Lord should make her daughter whole. Jesus' earthly ministry may have been directed primarily to the children of Israel, but even in Israel the puppies under the family tables got the children's scraps that fell to the floor! What humility and commitment this woman had. She never lost sight of her goal! I'm afraid my pride and anger would have bubbled to the surface, but not for this woman! Her passion and cleverness did not go unnoticed, as the next verses reveal.
LORD God Almighty, I'm not sure I would have handled this situation as well as the woman in the story. Thank you for her faith and for her tenacity. Please give me more of both and help me be less reactive to situations that test my humility and faith. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Galatians 5:22-26
- Philippians 3:6-14
- Proverbs 11:2
About This Devotional
What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.
What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.